Having lived, studied and worked in Kenya all my life, my time in London so far has been nothing short of eye opening.
The capital city of England is a complex place described by some as the financial capital of the world, which has managed to preserve its rich history and culture.
One thing however that has stood out for me is the realization that technology beyond its power to make life easier can also take away much-needed jobs from any society.
I only wonder whether the Kenyan education system is preparing students for a world where the jobs they know now will no longer exist.
Walk into a TV studio at any of the major networks in London and you will be surprised to find just the news anchor and possibly a standby cameraman.
Studio cameramen are no longer needed because the cameras are automated and controlled in the gallery.
Media houses will be disrupted by technology as various functions including graphics; autocues etc. are taken over by programs and software’s.
Will we ever see a robotic news anchor one day presenting the news?
Sound far-fetched but self-drive vehicles and flying cars are just around the corner.
Make your way into any supermarket or store in London and you will find it quite hard to get any ‘human’ assistance.
Even very large stores have minimal staff on hand to assist with inquiries.
One is expected to know what they want or at least try to figure it out for yourself.
When it is time to pay you can either queue to be served by the one or two available cashiers or use the automated tills, which allow you to checkout your goods and pay for them with cash, credit card or other payment means.
Security is another industry that has been hard hit by technology.
Most apartment blocks have some form of security system that allows genuine tenants or approved visitor’s access, eliminating the need for security guards.
Security cameras, sensors, a highly responsive police force amongst other factors means the human element is no longer necessary.
In 2015 the Economist reported that Nairobi, “is said to have 100,000 guards, making security its biggest employer,”
What will happen to all those jobs when the technology revolution hits that sector?
We already saw the impact of taxi-hailing apps on the taxi industry and more disruption is on its way.
Brick and mortar stores are also feeling the brunt of online shopping.
In 2016 Pew research revealed that 8 out of 10 Americans are now shopping online.
Those numbers should have changed two years later.
I ask myself whether the basic functions of accounting, law, architecture etc. can be taken over by technology.
Now don’t get me wrong the automation of jobs does have its advantages, like increased productivity.
So if you are wondering how to advise your son or daughter when it comes to making career choices then the Independent and the Guardian have some suggestions.
They suggest that careers that require genuine creativity such as cooking or marketing, people skills such as being a nurse or human resource and finally jobs that are highly unpredictable are the safest.
What do you think?
Find out what other commentators think below: -
I recently spoke to BBC news anchor Lucy Hockings on her GMT show about Solutions-Focused Journalism (SFJ) and why the 55 countries on the African continent could benefit a bit more from it.
The feedback and interest in SFJ on social media after that interview quite frankly surprised me.
Here are some of the comments: -
rachelann_captured@waihigamwaura solution focused journalism. That's it! We can't be having international media cover African stories then leave them hanging. Congratulations! God is good.
lianwesh Solution focused journalism would be great for a change.
leo4ke@waihigamwaura indeed solution focused journalism is something the media fraternity back home needs to learn...that way we shape our narrative with a more positive outlook. Otherwise, congrats on winning the award.
Defining Solutions-Focused Journalism
Let me quickly delve into this by defining solutions-focused journalism.
Or maybe I should start with what it is not.
It is not PR, NGO-driven; sob stories slanted in someone’s favor.
It is not the type of journalism that glosses over the truth to give a positive outlook or outcome of a particular situation.
BBC’s Head of Editorial Partnerships and Special Projects Emily Kasriel also warns that it is not the media providing solutions but rather covering solutions.
The Solutions Journalism Network describes it in a series of quotes.
SFJ is rigorous reporting to social problems. SFJ is connecting problems to solutions.
SFJ is covering the solutions without the fluff. SFJ is sharpening accountability.
Geta Community Forest Association
One example of SFJ could be a story about the Geta community forest association (CFA) broadcast on Citizen TV in Nairobi, Kenya on the 4th of March 2018 (Link at the bottom of this post).
To understand the story you may need some background information.
In late February 2018 the Kenyan government suspended logging in all forests in the country for the next 3 months
This was as a result of water levels in major rivers dropping at unprecedented levels.
Kenya has continued to face the wrath of deforestation and forest degradation since independence.
Initially the national discussion in Kenya was about the declining forest cover (less than 10%) and the ban on logging.
But the narrative changed when Citizen TV broadcast the story about how a community living next to the Geta forest got into an agreement with several stakeholders to conserve the forest that they had initially been chased away from.
Fast-forward to the present and the benefits of this solution are clear for everyone to see. The forest has now reclaimed part of its acreage because of sustained replanting and the villagers have benefited from good soil in which they can plant crops and even make some money off their efforts.
Doesn’t Africa Need More Investigative Journalism Instead?
In a world where bad news sells, proponents of SFJ may have a hard time moving this form of journalism from the fringes to the center.
Some would say that the priority for media on the African continent should be to focus on investigative journalism and fact checking (to counter fake news).
But if stories coming out of the African continent only speak of theft, corruption, tribalism and all the other social ills then what will motivate the younger generation to aspire to build their countries of origin and work hard to find solutions for the problems they are all too familiar with.
At a local level SFJ can possibly inspire innovation, genuine patriotism and local solutions.
At an international level SFJ especially when focused on the African continent might lead American First Lady Melania Trump to consider a different itinerary the next time she visits Kenya because she is curious to see all the change and innovation she has heard of.
Kanye West might even think of Africa as more than just soil the next time he is looking for inspiration for his next album.
After many years of telling stories about Africa’s 55 countries from one viewpoint maybe it is time to consider alternative viewpoints about the world’s second largest continent.
It is an uphill task, but then again aren’t all revolutions difficult.
What’s your view on this? Write to me on email@example.com or @waihigamwaura on twitter, Instagram or Facebook.