Photograph — Buzzercast.com

The African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with technology firms Facebook, Microsoft and the Rockefeller Foundation has rolled out a youth empowerment programme that will train and develop Africa’s youth skill to meet employer requirement. Under the theme “Coding for employment,” the bank seeks to create 25 million jobs across Africa, developing and launching Africa’s next generation of digitally enabled youth.

Among the beneficiaries include four renowned academic institutions were selected from Nigeria; Ahmadu Bello University, Covenant University, Gombe State University and University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The initiative will leave youth with opportunities and career options, especially undergraduates who would face the labour market after graduation. With a focus on capacity building, the programme anticipates that 75 percent of the trainees will be linked with employment opportunities, while 25 percent will become entrepreneurs.

The Bank had identified leading academic institutions, the designated “Centres of Excellence,” in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire, which were scheduled to run the pilot phase of the digital skills training programme last November.

In line with the partnership, the bank will supply educators and IT experts, Facebook and Microsoft philanthropies will design the curriculum while Rockefeller Foundation will support the vision with the a $2 million trust fund to equip and operationalize the plan.

Launched in February 2018, the partnership will see 130 Centres of Excellence established across the continent with the goal to upscale African talents with digital and coding skills, preparing them for the demand-driven digital world.

So far, the initiative has recorded some successful results. “More young people and students across Africa and in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous economy, are becoming computer literate, with coding and digital skills training, under the “Coding for Employment” programme of the African Development Bank,” read a statement from the bank.

In December 2018, computer science departments in Covenant University and Gombe State University (GSU) flagged off “Hour of Code” sessions under the Coding for Employment programme in their respective campuses. 62 participants, comprising students and young people from neighbouring communities, attended the one-day classes at Covenant University. GSU recorded 545 participants over the course of three days.

All the participants, who were carefully screened and had little or no knowledge of technology, received certificates of participation. 95 percent of them expressed strong interest in the next level of digital skills, a course scheduled to commence in early 2019.

“The turnout was massive, and the enthusiasm was palpable,” said Yemi Orimolade, one of the facilitators and senior communication manager at Microsoft Philanthropies, the corporate philanthropy subsidiary of the technology firm.

With initiatives like this that support youth development, many young Africans will have equal opportunities to solve social problems in the competitive global world.

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