South Africa is severely underprepared for automation – which could cost millions of jobs

Article first published by – the full reference url is at the foot of this article – 22 July 2018:

While much has been written about the incoming impact of AI and automation, limited work has been done on the potential impact of automation on economies in the developing world.

This prompted Daniel le Roux, a senior lecturer at the department of Information Science at Stellenbosch University, to investigate the situation in South Africa.

In an article for The Conversation, le Roux explained that he used data collected by Statistics South Africa for its Quarterly Labour Force Survey and an automation index produced by academics from the University of Oxford.

“From this, I was able to estimate that occupations performed by almost 35% of South African workers – roughly 4.5 million people – are potentially automatable in the near future,” he said.

“But the country appears ill-prepared for this reality. There is little discussion at policy level. Hardly any research has been done to investigate possible future scenarios.

“There’s also a great deal of uncertainty about how the uptake of automation technology may further drive inequality and preserve the asymmetry in the country’s economy,” he said.

According to le Roux’s data, roughly 14 million South Africans work in around 380 different occupation types.

64 of these occupations, employing an estimated 3.6 million workers, have a 90% or greater probability of being automatable in the near future, he said.

These occupations include, for example, cashiers, tellers, secretaries and telephone salesmen.

He found that the occupations of another 2.6 million workers, of whom 900,000 are employed as farmhands and labourers, have an 80%-89% probability of being automatable.

However he cautioned that workers of all skills levels are at risk, and that accountants, auditors and dental technicians aare extremely susceptible to automation.

“But trends suggest that people in low and medium-skilled occupations are generally more at risk than those who require extensive education,” he said.

“So it is not surprising that the country’s previously disadvantaged population groups are more exposed to job losses due to automation than their white counterparts.

“Half of all black South Africa workers are in occupations with an 80% or greater probability of automation; so are 47% of coloured workers. For white employees, however, the proportion is only around 30%.”

No preparations made

Despite the risk involved, le Roux said it was unlikely that South African business-owners would not take advantage of this new technology as it becomes available to them.

But there seems to be very limited high-level discourse about how South Africa plans to navigate this wave of technological advancement, he said.

“For South Africa, with its large number of low-skilled workers, a dramatically improved education system is an obvious and critical concern,” he said.

“Despite high unemployment, there remains a scarcity of skills in a wide variety of areas. This suggests a mismatch between supply and demand in the labour market.

“It is also important to understand how technologies will displace work in future. This understanding can help to better inform young South Africans’ career choices.”

Nedbank’s new Scan to Pay mobile app functionality takes convenient, secure payments to the next level

Nedbank clients who make use of the award-winning Nedbank Money App are about to experience an entirely new level of payments convenience and security, thanks to the bank’s addition of a digital Scan to Pay function – a first-in-market innovation by Nedbank – within the App’s already extensive range of digital money management features.

The Scan to Pay function makes it possible for anyone who uses the Nedbank Money App on their mobile phone or tablet to pay any physical or online vendors who offer MasterPass, Snapscan, Pay@ or Zapper Quick Response (QR) codes as a payment option.

According to Chris Wood, Executive: Nedbank Card Issuing and Payments, Scan to Pay is not just a first-in-market, it also has the potential to fundamentally change the way South Africans choose to make payments.

“Nedbank is incredibly proud to be leading the way in the digitisation of payments after having originally launched the MasterPass payments ecosystem in 2015,” Wood explains, “and Scan to Pay is further evidence of the fact that we are actively building on this solid reputation as a market leader in secure and convenient digital payments enablement.”

Wood explains that the launch of the Scan to Pay functionality as part of the Nedbank Money App gives Nedbank clients the option to conveniently, and quickly scan and pay for goods and services offered by more than 100 000 retailers and vendors countrywide. And because Money App users already have their credit and debit card details securely loaded onto their digital devices, there is no need for them to add these details or load multiple apps. “With Scan to Pay, our Nedbank Money App users are literally a click away from the absolute convenience of instant, secure payments on their mobile.”

The Nedbank Scan to Pay App functionality was developed in conjunction with Entersekt, a leading provider of mobile authentication and app security innovation, with which Nedbank has had a long-standing relationship. According to Schalk Nolte, CEO of Entersekt, the new feature will be made available to app users via an automatic update, and the functionality makes Nedbank the first bank in the country to make all major domestic scan-to-pay services available to its customers within its banking app.

“Nedbank’s incorporation of Scan to Pay into its app is evidence of the bank’s understanding that effortless accessibility, underwritten by established client relationships, represent an important advantage for any bank that wants to achieve a greater share of the booming global market in mobile payments,” Nolte explains.

According to Wood, while Nedbank Scan to Pay is the next in an ongoing range of innovations that the bank has steadily rolled out to South African banking consumers, it is by no means the last. “We’re very excited to be able to offer our clients this dynamic, enabling technology,” he enthuses, “but we are even more excited by the strategic plans we have to continuously deliver even more dynamic digital solutions that will enhance their mobile payments experience.”

Wood emphasises that this digital experience is still complemented by significant real-world benefits for customers. “While payments made using the Scan to Pay functionality don’t require a physical card to be swiped or tapped,” he explains, “users still qualify for all the rewards that would typically accrue to them – including Greenbacks and Nedbank Affinity donations – if they were using an actual Nedbank credit or debit card to make their payments.”

This article was published in partnership with Nedbank –