The African workforce is mushrooming, and by 2035, it is predicted that the numbers will have increased by more than the rest of the world’s regions combined. According to World Bank analysts, this expanded working-age population could lead to a growth in GDP of up to 15 per cent – equivalent to doubling the current rate of growth in the region.
However, the International Labour Organisation recently warned that both sub-Saharan Africa and Northern Africa are facing challenges in terms of job creation, quality and sustainability. Despite the creation of 37 million new and stable wage-paying jobs over the past decade, only 28 per cent of Africa’s labour force hold such positions, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. Instead, some 63 per cent engage in some form of self-employment or ‘vulnerable employment’, such as subsistence farming or urban street hawking.
Add to this the logistical difficulties for the stable wage-paying workers in actually getting to Africa’s urban centres. Millions in the continent’s congested cities endure long, difficult commutes. Kenya, Algeria and Central African Republic are notorious for their long commute times, while tech start-up WhereIsMytransport estimates that poor transport could cost South Africa’s economy a huge $104bn a year.
However, change is coming, according to the World Economic Forum, Africa stands to benefit in a big way from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. While the First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production, the Second used electric power to create mass production, and the Third used electronics and IT to automate production – the Fourth fuses technologies such as AI, robotics, the Internet of Things, biotechnology and quantum computing.
And as the Fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, Africa is poised to develop new patterns of working. Africa may be uniquely positioned to jump straight past the adopted working model in other countries to a more liberated future of remote and flexible working.
As a response to this, international flexible workspace provider, IWG plc – operating under the Regus brand in Africa – is currently franchising in 21 countries on the African continent and are looking at expanding into the rest of Africa through a unique franchising model.
The IWG franchise model offers landlords, private equity firms, multi-brand franchise operators and high-net-worth individuals with the opportunity to buy into the flexible working market at attractive returns. Flexible workspace is also proving to be a solution to filling the many inner-city buildings that remain empty in current markets and prospective investors are afforded the opportunity to build a property portfolio while buying into the flexible working market.
Mo Nanabhay, Franchise Director (Africa) for IWG plc, had this to say, “The flexible workspace market is cleaner, simpler and less volatile than other, traditional franchise opportunities. Coupled with the opportunities we see for growth in the African market, we see it as a lucrative opportunity for early adopters.”