Digitalization in Open Economies: Theory and Policy Implications

Digitalization and Digitization
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Yet, as we know, African countries are far from being fully digitised. The subsequent introduction of digital technologies also leads to socio-economic changes Hess, Digitalisation, on the other hand, refers to increased use of digital and computer technologies in organisations, countries, and workplaces in general. Casual observations would suggest that the impact of digitisation would be disruptive and lead to job losses in some sectors, and worsen unemployment in some economies.

For instance, in the North Africa region had the highest youth unemployment rate in the world at about 30 per cent ILO, Africa is the most youthful continent. Sub-Saharan Africa does not fare any better and the situation there is objectively worse when it comes to job quality. The vast majority of jobs are informal and of poor quality, with few benefits for employees ILO, ; Page and Shimeles, The ILO adds that employment prospects in sub-Saharan African countries are stagnating due to low productivity attributed to a lack of diversification in the economies Sow, Rifkin argued that unemployment would increase in most parts of the world as a result of the proliferation of information and communication technologies ICTs in work environments.

For him, the digital revolution would adversely affect jobs in sectors such as manufacturing, retail, marketing and many service areas. According to Rifkin, by 12 per cent of the global population would work in manufacturing and that figure would decrease to 2 per cent by Most recently, Carl Frey and Michael Osborne triggered much interest in the notion that automation and digitisation would lead to future job losses in advanced economies.

They looked at jobs that were at risk as a consequence of automated technologies and estimated that over 47 per cent of jobs across all sectors were at risk of being displaced by computers. Melanie Arntz, Terry Gregory and Ulrich Zierahn , Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee , and Steve Denning have discussed concerns that digitalisation might result in displacements, disruptions and jobless futures in several economies.

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Derek Thompson adds that job losses in certain sectors will continue to be witnessed as a result of digitisation, leading to the reduction of human labour demands with associated wage stagnation. By focusing on tasks that are easily automated and digitalised, scholars estimate that on average 9 per cent of jobs are automatable in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD countries, but they also recognise sufficient heterogeneities based on workplace organisation. However, these estimates are frequently disputed or challenged by new research insights. And in many instances there are contradictory conclusions concerning job displacement, especially because digitisation has known benefits.

The opposite view is that digitisation adds jobs and value, but that the future of work will change through innovation Eichhorst, They enhance our understanding of digitisation by classifying its stages. In their formulation, most of Africa falls within the constrained economies category, which means that realisation of the full benefits of digitisation is hampered and constrained. On their scale of digitisation, African countries score below 25, while the best performers—the advanced countries of Europe, Australia and North America—score greater than 40 and are considered as mature in digitisation terms.

For the most part, the seminal studies lack diversity in scope and range. African economies also have large informal sectors. This analysis recognises the need to develop a nuanced understanding of different sectors of the African economy in which the youth are impacted. We suggest theories on job displacement will be refined if data on especially informal sectors of African economies are included in the analysis.

With a few exceptions, previous research has not seriously taken into consideration the impact of digitisation in African settings. For example, Bahjat El-Darwiche et al. Furthermore, David Autor has observed that displacements have occurred mainly in lower-middle-class jobs that are repetitive in nature. According to the World Bank, in African countries examples of these jobs include clerical work, the preparation of registries, bookkeeping, banking and jobs in manufacturing The Nation, ; Ngunjiri, ; Nwachukwu, ; Omulo, ; Reuters, The sector-level approach seems to be a reasonable way by which to test the applicability of the job disappearance theory.

Economists Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo , among others, identify sectors, such as manufacturing, where automation eliminates job tasks more heavily than in most other job sectors. Using documentary and other qualitative methods, we interrogate the ambiguity in claims of job displacement, focusing mainly on three instrumental sectors—libraries, security, and entertainment. Bruce Berg , observes that instrumental cases may not be viewed as typical but are helpful for refining a theoretical explanation. These cases are essential for description, which helps strengthen our explanatory abilities and implications of theoretical positions King et al.

The sectors are examined because they offer a breeding ground for new insights, where digitisation plays a large part in tasks and jobs. In addition, the consumption of entertainment artefacts cuts across all nations and is a useful starting point from which to refine the assumptions in the disappearing job narrative. We then discuss the qualitative limitations of the disappearing job theory and develop an alternative perspective on the unfolding changes in African work arenas.

Finally, we discuss the implications of our perspectives for strategies by the International Labour Organization ILO and future outcomes. Digital libraries and archives reduce the costs associated with the maintenance of physical spaces for storing books.

Digitalization in Open Economies: Theory and Policy Implications

However, due to a weaker resource base, libraries in Kenya are at an early stage of digitisation and full assessment of the effect of digitisation on labour would be premature Mutula, , Because of limited government support, the digital libraries established by African institutions remain relatively disorganised. In addition, digital libraries expanded jobs in e-learning enterprises. A noted consequence of digitisation is the reskilling of library employees to facilitate navigation in the new media.

No observed job displacements reported for clerical staff manually handling card catalogues were wholly attributed to digitisation.

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One reason for this is that matters of digitisation were not included in collective bargaining agreements CBAs between the fragmented unions and the government, or employer. These unions are also ill-equipped to navigate the changing nature of work in the digital age and require collaboration to advance common interests Otenyo, , And these unions have to move away from silo mentalities and unions have to encourage training in the ICTs skills necessary in the knowledge economy Otenyo, , Due to a generalised perception of deteriorating public safety and insecurity, CCTV has become a common feature of cities on the continent.

Older analogue systems are being replaced with digital and hybrid systems. In Kenya, for example, recruitment into the police force has increased National Police Service Commission, Additional retailing vendor jobs have been created in the private sector as well. In Nairobi, for instance, the National Surveillance, Communication and Control System was presented as a collaboration between central government, police, and private sector vendors including Internet provider Safaricom and Huawei. By , the national parliament had urged the government to expedite the process to install CCTV in major cities Mugarula, As more data is generated, new tasks are created, especially in analytics.

Also, the digitalised components of the data require stable power and connectivity, which also translates into technician positions.

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This means more training and job creation in areas such as Big Data analytics and skills for facial recognition, among others. In addition, manpower training in analysis presents opportunities for manpower development. Because of growing needs for public safety, digitisation in the security sector does not fit into the pattern of technologies that lead to job losses or displacements.

However, the evidence suggests increases in the numbers of jobs in sales and in security consultants, CCTV technicians, operators, and controllers across the continent. Here, Robot Security cops, which report data in digitised forms, are an excellent example of how blending Artificial Intelligence AI , robots and automation defines the modern workplace Baldwin, The main challenge for African governments is to establish legal frameworks for managing the digitised security sector, such as data storage, safety, and reliability Otenyo, However, job displacements and disruptions have been extensively documented in the entertainment sector.

There is also outright copycat infringement in which music and film is dubbed and shared illegally on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and YouTube. Two opposing views emerge: on the one hand, the emerging free culture and digitisation have, to some extent, affected the ability of creative artists to reap the full benefits of their trades and changed the game for communications businesses Felten, ; Lessig, ; Jenkins, At the opposite end of this scale is the claim that the benefits of digitisation are recognisable and include sustainable livelihoods for artists.

Open issues

Napster United States Court of Appeals, , evidence was provided to show that the illegal downloading of music and film is disruptive and prohibited. In Africa, attempts at formulating relevant legislation have been made. For example, the Copyright Amendment Bill , 2 formulated in line with the DMCA principles, is designed to punish Internet service providers for failure to expunge copyrighted content from their networks.

Working Papers & Publications

Another example, in the digital ecosystem in Europe, there is a necessity of seamless payment transaction system so that there will be the efficient, stable and trustworthy operation in the cross-border context in Europe. Athanasios Orphanides John Williams. Matthias Doepke Martin Schneider. So users are more willing to stay in existing products or systems, rather than to seek other alternatives. The Publius project is a collection of essays and conversations about constitutional moments on the Net.

Bloggers and websites that publish copyrighted literary content have also been sanctioned. Also, for Congo, laws that prohibit copyright infringement have existed since Ngombe, However, these laws are weak and not strictly enforced due to bureaucratic incompetence Ngombe, ; WIPO, According to Shimkovitz, cassette technology became a huge movement within the music distribution industry. The popularity of tapes coincided with the explosion of piracy on the continent. Tapes also contributed to a decline in the manufacture of vinyl LPs, thereby reducing jobs at recording labels such as Decca and Philips.

And in furtherance of its broad objectives, UNESCO developed a series of policies to combat piracy in the wake of the increased use of digital technologies. This perception is a dominant argument among many of the emerging musicians and artists who had been left behind in the ICT-driven era of globalisation. While popular and scholarly accounts often describe digitization as a technical process, humans have delegated particular decisions about what signals should be kept and what should be thrown out to algorithms that carry out digitization processes. There is a pervasive sense that analog technologies produce representations that are more faithful to the original than digital representations that continually reconstruct bits in the moment.

Sterne, however, looks to similarities between the two, recognizing that all forms of mediation necessarily interpret the world Sterne, , Much scholarly work has recognized that digitization produces data with a set of distinguishing characteristics. While some observe and lament the way digitization necessarily strips communication of its interesting imperfections, others contend that digitization, by reducing communication to its basic components, produces a lingua franca, capable of facilitating universal communication van Dijk, That is to say, in being easily manipulated, digital data provides users with additional control over information Owen, 94; Beniger, In other words, digitization permits an expansive degree of interactivitybetween user and information.

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As digital bits have only two possible states, 1 or 0, receiving nodes will likely make fewer errors in transferring and decoding data than occurs in analogue systems. At the same time, this underscores that transferring digital information does not include any actual transfer of physical materials. Instead, there is only the transfer of information about the configuration of transistors—meaning there is only copying. Some see this as eroding the distinction between the original and the copy Groys, 91 , an idea that holds particular relevance for legal issues of intellectual property see Benkler, As Lessig , notes, this raises troubling implications for the expansion of intellectual property:. When you play a CD on your computer, the recording gets copied into memory on its way to your headphones or speakers. No matter what you do, your actions trigger the law of copyright. Perhaps the most developed line of work that captures the replicable, interactive, and distributive affordances of digital media has come from legal scholarship, particularly around the way digital media have complicated the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

In the quote above, Lessig identifies a central tension of digitized information. The ease of replicating digital information, the interactive affordances that have resulted in the proliferation of creative re-combinations of cultural content, and the easy distribution of digital creative work have challenged the monetization of copyrightable content and undermined the ability to assert an enforceable copyright over cultural goods Ananny and Kreiss, ; Benkler, ; Boyle, ; Fisher, ; Lessig, Indeed, these issues at the intersection of law and the affordances of digital technologies have animated two decades of work on the regulation of the Internet Mansell, in addition to struggles over fundamental issues of jurisdiction and governance DeNardis, Copyright protection is not the only legal concern implicated in digitization.

Recently, many have considered the relations between digitization and surveillance. Metadata is produced by the radical simplification or reduction of information in digital form. The system produces information about digital streams by distilling signals down to their most basic form. Metadata permit computer systems and infrastructures to index, search, and store digitized information. Digital metadata is often created by users themselves in ways that classify and index information Mathes, Metadata has been an extraordinarily important aspect of digital media in contexts ranging from knowledge production and social scientific research to government surveillance.

Metadata has also proved enormously useful for state agencies seeking to monitor people. Across disciplines, many scholars have united in heralding the radical uniqueness of digitization and digitized information. Many have suggested that digitizing information endows it with significant and meaningful qualities. Scholars see these as the characteristics of digital information and the necessary consequences of digitization.

For many, digitization radically transforms the entire landscape of media.

Certainly, digitization has become ubiquitous; now, almost all the media technologies we routinely interact with are digital. Increasingly, there are no analog counterparts to be posed against digital technologies. The ultimate implication is that digitization reverberates across social groups and social interactions. From this beginning, writing about digitalization has grown into a massive literature—one concerned less with the specific process of converting analogue data streams into digital bits or the specific affordances of digital media than the ways that digital media structure, shape, and influence the contemporary world.

In this sense, digitalization has come to refer to the structuring of many and diverse domains of social life around digital communication and media infrastructures. In this section, we focus on a few prominent works that address the implications of digitialization that scholars have traced across some of the many different domains of social life.

Castells is part of a larger set of scholarship that points to the underlying media and communications system as a way to explain or understand many, if not all, aspects of contemporary social life. There are a number of ways that scholars have analyzed how digitalization shapes the contemporary world.

The future of ICT in the digital economy