50 million youth in Kenya, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Senegal are set to acquire coding skills courtesy of a partnership program by Microsoft, Facebook and the African Development Bank. The program, dubbed coding for Employment was unveiled at the African Innovation Summit in Kigali Rwanda.
Trainees will go through a curriculum designed with ICT market demand in mind and connected to employers afterwards.
“Coding for Employment accelerates investments in Africa’s most valuable resource-its young women and men. That’s why The Rockefeller Foundation is thrilled to join forces with the African Development Bank to help every young African reach their full potential. Our partnership will establish 130 Centres of Excellence across Africa, “said Mamadou Biteye, OBE, Africa Managing Director Rockefeller Foundation.
Research by specialist research firm Michael Page found that software developers and engineers topped the list of the most in-demand professions in the world, also featuring on the list are electronics engineers who work in tandem with software engineers. Thus, the training is meant to put the trained youth in a position to capitalise on an existing and growing demand for coding skills.
Speaking on the program, Microsoft’s Director of Philanthropies for the Middle East and Africa Ghada Khalifa said that digital skills were quickly becoming important for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs. However, the skills are beyond the reach of many African youth, a situation that the partnership will change.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that Africa’s population will double to 2.5 billion by 2050, currently, three-fifths of the population is under 25 years. However, with high unemployment rates across the entire content, ICT skills are viewed as a way for the youth to participate in the global economy.
Entire industries including agriculture, finance and health in Africa are moving towards digitisation, and skills acquired via the Coding for Employment program will be vital. Kenya is already in the midst of a digital revolution with the most recent one being the digitization of the lands registry. Fintech apps like Tala and Branch are widening financial inclusion in the country, start-ups like WeFarm are bringing technology to the hands of small-scale farmers. It’s exciting to see what the results of the program will be.