Chinese billionaire and co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Jack Ma, believes it’s about time people begin to work fewer hours. His grand plan entails reforming the education system and making use of artificial intelligence. Will this ever work in a country like Nigeria?

What Ma Said: According to the billionaire, people in China are working too hard and it’s about time that gets changed. To this end, he is proposing a total of 12 hours per week which breaks down to very few hours of work per day. The robots will do the rest of the job.

Jack Ma stated this in Shanghai while discussing with Tesla Inc.‘s Elon Musk during a panel session at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference.

“For the next 10, 20 years, every human being, country, government should focus on reforming the education system, making sure our kids can find a job, a job that only requires three days a week, four hours a day.”

Possible problems: While this could potentially become one of the best things to have happened in the history of working, there are some questions to be answered. Analysts at Nairametrics have wondered whether the plan would entail a reduction in pay for Chinese workers or not. If salaries would be cut down considering the fewer working hours, then what’s the point really? However, if workers are to be paid their normal salaries in exchange for working fewer hours, then how nice!

Also, could this proposal potentially result in people losing their jobs? Do not forget that there has been a long-standing debate over the threat posed by technology and artificial intelligence to workers. Therefore, could Ma’s proposal be aimed at facilitating the AL takeover? We may never know for sure.

Bringing this home: The important question now is this: can this ever work in Nigeria? As good as it sounds, the answer is no. Due to a number of factors that are out of place, Nigeria is not quite prepared for the future of work.

  • The country’s education system is in shambles.
  • Poor infrastructure (both IT and regular) is the order of the day.
  • The economy has not advanced to the point we can depend on artificial intelligence to do the work humans can easily do at less cost.
  • There are millions of Nigerians that are unemployed; let’s get them working first.