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The Future Of Work In Africa; Remote Work In The 21st-century Corporate World5 min read

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remote work - future of work in Africa

The rapid rise of the digital era and the internet has undoubtedly affected working culture globally. The style and manner of transacting business has significantly changed in the 21st century. Changes are happening so fast and anyone who fails to re-adjust and catch up with the innovations will be left behind. Day in, day out corporate entities are re-strategizing to come up with the most innovative ideas and means of carrying out their business objectives. Today, companies’ employees hold meetings online via conference calls and video calls. Thanks to ICT innovations. This brings us to the subject, remote work.

What really does remote work mean?

The Cambridge dictionary defines remote work as a situation in which an employee works mainly from home and communicates to the company through emails and telephone. This definition is no longer sufficient to fully capture the meaning of remote work since it limits the means to only emails and telephones. Remote work or telecommuting simply means the practice of working anywhere other than the office. In the 21st reality, this can be achieved through many means. Not just through phone calls and emails. 

Lister estimated that by the year 2025, about 70 per cent of employees will work remotely at least five times in a month.  Let us evaluate the merits and demerits of remote work. It will help one appreciate the work scheme better.

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Attract the Best Brains with remote work

One of the advantages of remote work is that it attracts the best brains to a job offer. Stephanie Kasriel, the CEO of Upwork stated that “companies that refuse to support a remote workforce risk losing their best people and turning away top talents. Let us look at it this way, with a remote working policy, you able to hire the best brains without considering geographic limitations and the heavy financial burden that comes with hiring professionals from far locations, for instance, foreigners. With a remote work policy, you do not have to hire just the available persons to fill in vital positions in your organizations. You can go for that specialized professional of your choice without worrying so much about large travelling allowances. 

remote work - future of work in Africa
A young African man working from home. Photo: Shutterstock

Reduction of Costs

One huge benefit of working remotely is that it saves corporate entities a lot of costs. It minimises the amount of office space needed, as well as reducing the cost of work tools and equipment such as computers and desks. Remote work can reduce the overall cost of running an office in terms of electricity and water bills. Conversely, working from home also saves employees a lot of expenses. An employee who operates from home saves money they would have spent on transportation, meals, parking spaces, childcare etc. it is indeed a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee. 

Environmental Impact of remote work

Working remotely impacts positively on our environment. Look at it this way, when you have fewer vehicles plying the roads, greenhouse gas emissions will reduce drastically. Air pollution will reduce. Take Lagos for instance, if half of the vehicles get off the roads, the state will become much cleaner and safer for residents. For dense cities where traffic congestion, it is a nightmare for commuters. Adopting a remote work policy will ease traffic issues as many people will prefer working from home instead of spending hours in traffic. 

The benefits of remote work cannot be overemphasized. However, there are a few challenges that need to be addressed to get the best out of remote work. 

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Communication Difficulties

Working remotely means an employee does his work at home, away from his team, boss and colleagues. Communication with these people forms a major part of the work. Remote workers communicate with employers and colleagues on the phone and through mail most times but are these means of communication sufficient? Body language, tone and expressions matter in giving and comprehending instructions as well as passing information. What then is the way around this challenge? Companies are encouraged to make use of cloud-based technology in circumventing this challenge. Tools such as Skype and Google Hangouts can be of great assistance. Employers are also advised to establish regular communication with their employees working remotely as a way to tackle the communication challenge. 

remote work - future of work in Africa
African lady working and smiling from home

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Security Risk

It is feared that a remote work policy increases a company’s susceptibility to hacks and disclosure of confidential data and information. A survey carried out by Apricorn in 2018 discovered that a third of organizations claim to have experienced data loss or breach as a result of mobile working. One way to circumvent this challenge is to ensure that employees keep all confidential documents and materials in a single secure cloud location instead of it being stored in employees’ personal computers. 

Assessing Employers Performers

One of the criticisms remote work has received is centred on the issue of employees’ assessment. If people are allowed to work from their comfort zones, how then do employers make sure that their remote working staff remain productive, devoted and attentive to their duties? One way to ensure this is to set daily, weekly or monthly targets as the case may be, for the employees. Also, when hiring, employers should look out for qualities like self-discipline and independence in their potential employees

The benefits of remote work cannot be overemphasized, outweighing the challenges associated with it.  Business organizations, the workforce, as well as the society, stand to gain from this 21st-century innovation. Sadly, the scheme does not enjoy the same level of acceptance in Africa as it does in Europe and America. CEOs, boards of directors, shareholders and other stakeholders of corporate entities in Africa should reexamine their corporate governance rules and policies with the aim of making adjustments to accommodate remote work.

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The growth of digital and online marketing in Africa

Is Digital Marketing for Africa? How have businesses gained by marketing online?

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Growth of digital marketing

Innovative changes have over the years, proven to be a constant. Ways of doing things are changing globally at a rather fast pace; things that affect the way we live, the way we travel, study, do business, run homes and families, interact with others etc.

The influence of innovation is simply overwhelming! One sector that has been touched by the transformative wind of innovation is the business sector. In this article, we are going to evaluate the growth of digital marketing in Africa. Before we dissect the topic, let us first look at the meaning of digital marketing.

What is digital marketing? 

Wikipedia defines digital marketing as the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium. From the definition provided by Wikipedia, one may sum up the meaning of digital marketing as the use of technologies in marketing as opposed to the traditional ways of marketing we all know.

Before the digital era, marketing and advertisements were only done using traditional methods such as public announcements, newspaper, radio, television, billboards, posters and flyers. Digital marketing on the other hand employ methods such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), e-Commerce marketing, content marketing among other methods.

Advertising has been taken to a whole new level through the help of online marketing. Business owners, especially startups in Africa now save millions hitherto used in running newspaper advertisements and paying for sessions on television channels that expire after a short time. They now spend less than half of that amount to advertise on various digital platforms, which enjoy more audience than the traditional means, including television and newspapers. 

The state of online marketing in South Africa

 In South Africa, a study by World Wide Worx in collaboration with Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found that as at the year 2010 the number of South African internet users have grown beyond 5 million. Ever since figures continued to advance upwardly.

By 2016 the number of internet users stood a little below 29 million. That was more than half of South Africa’s 52 million population. With that number of internet users, digital marketing will continue to grow in leaps and bound in South Africa.

Kenya and Digital Marketing

In Kenya, the story is pretty much the same as in South Africa. If you are familiar with Kenya’s marketing terrain, you will understand how big it has grown in a very short period.  Just a couple of years ago, expensive traditional methods of marketing still thrived in the country but today the story has changed as around 22% of all media consumption in Kenya is digital.

What is more, this number is growing fast! The German online portal, Statista reported that Internet advertising spending in Kenya is expected to grow from US$72 million in 2015 to US$151 million in 2020.

Digital marketing in Nigeria

Digital Marketing started to gather momentum in Nigeria around 2012 with the entry of e-commerce platforms such as Jumia and Konga in the country. The period between 2015 to 2019 saw a massive increase of Small & Medium Enterprises in the country with a population of 190 million people.

According to Statista, Nigeria had 92.3 million internet users in 2018 and it is projected to grow to 187.8 million internet users in 2023. This was 47.1 per cent of the population in 2018. It is expected to climb to 84.5 per cent in 2023. With 92.3 million people using the internet, the place of digital marketing in Nigeria’s business space has been secured. The prospect for the growth of digital marketing in Nigeria seems pretty good.

From the situation reports in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – three of the largest economies in Africa, digital marketing is growing really fast in the continent. The future of Businesses in Africa can now be viewed better through the lens of the digital.

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Nigeria extends border closure to January 31

Illegal importation of cheap rice is seen as a major cause of the decision by the Nigerian government to close its borders

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Nigeria extends border closure to January 31

Nigerian President, Muhammad Buhari has announced an extension on the country border’s closure with neighbouring countries until 31 January, 2020.

The Nigerian government closed all its land borders two months ago in a bid to stop smugglers and criminals who pose a threat to the country and its economy.

“Mr President has approved the extension of the exercise to January 31, 2020. Consequently, you are requested to convey the development to all personnel for their awareness and guidance,” Victor Dimka, the Deputy Comptroller of Customs in charge of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspectorate, directed in a memo.

Even though the border closure had bore fruit, a few objectives are yet to be achieved.

Illegal importation of cheap rice is seen as a major cause of the decision by the Nigerian government to close its borders.

While some businessmen in the West African country say they have made huge losses since the directive took effect, officials are confident there is more to gain once the desired objectives are achieved.

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South Africa to accelerate economic reforms

South Africa’s credit ratings by Moody’s remain investment grade (one notch above non-investment grade

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South Africa to accelerate economic reforms

The South African government has pledged to carry out urgent reforms to improve economic performance following the country’s credit rating downgrade from stable to negative.

“The government is fully aware that short- and medium-term reforms are urgently required to improve economic performance over the next several years”, the country’s Treasury said in a statement after international rating agency Moody’s on Friday night downgraded South Africa’s credit rating from “stable” to “negative.”

South Africa’s credit ratings by Moody’s remain investment grade (one notch above non-investment grade but the latest downgrade is seen as the final step before Moody’s strips South Africa of its “investment grade” Baa3 long-term foreign-currency and local-currency issuer rating, which will leave it at “junk.”

Two other major international rating agencies – S&P Global Ratings and Fitch – have placed South Africa’s credit-worthiness to sub-investment grade (commonly known as junk status).

The government also notes the decision by Moody’s to affirm South Africa’s long term foreign and local currency debt ratings at ‘Baa3’ and also revise the outlook to negative from stable.

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