Is ICT the golden ticket to job creation or just a facilitator?

 ICT needs other industries to thrive and create more jobs. [iStockphoto]

Kenya's Silicon Savannah promises the golden route to jobs. Millions of white-collar jobs for the exuberant youth.

A replica of California’s Silicon Valley and its global reach.

Some of the famous “citizens" of Silicon Valley include tech giants Adobe, Alphabet, Apple, Cisco, eBay, HP, Intel, LinkedIn, Meta, Nvidia, Paypal, and Zoom.

Let's think about jobs a bit. Meta has 76,000 employees while Google has 140,000 currently. But Walmart has 2.3 million workers, Amazon 1.544 million and Toyota 373,000.

This leads to a simple question: Where are the jobs? ICT seems like a job creator because it’s much talked about. We all have an email address, WhatsApp groups, and a phone number and computer.

But in terms of job creation, other sectors lead as the data above shows.

We forget that ICT can’t create jobs in isolation. ICT is always about something. ICT in learning, logistics, farming, manufacturing, entertainment, and government among others. ICT needs other industries to thrive and create more jobs. The same applies to other professions like accountants or lawyers.

Economic fundamentals

As we embark on ICT, as the route to jobs, we must ask where to apply it and whether the economic fundamentals to create firms that demand ICT are there.

The truth is that as other industries expand, so does ICT unless it's for games or fun.

The big question should be: Are we growing the economy fast enough to demand ICT and its jobs? If we grew all the sectors, the demand for ICT would skyrocket.

The other avenue to creating ICT jobs is offshoring which is Vision 2030. It’s about doing work for other people online. Covid-19 taught us the possibilities open to ICT.

But we must be real - crops must be grown on soil and cows milked. Minerals mined and other tasks. ICT could make that efficient, but can’t be a replacement.

We love talking about doing things on our phones or in our homes. But the truth is that ICT is a facilitator, real work is done elsewhere.

Check, your emails, SMS or WhatsApp messages. They are about something - providing a service or a product. That is how jobs are created. 

ICT might appear glamorous and nerdy, but real jobs are created elsewhere. ICT is a facilitator. That’s a fact we must accept, hustlers or not.