Google in SubSaharan Africa has launched its massive #digitalskills4Africa training programme in Nairobi, Kenya with an aim to enroll and equip more than a million young Africans with free digital skills.
The programme that started three months ago, has already seen more than 11,000 Kenyans using the programme's platform on www.digifyafrica.com which is a digital training initiative delivered by Livity Africa, with support from Google Sub-Saharan Africa, the Rockefeller Foundation and British Council.
The tech giant plans to train 200 000 people in Kenya, officials told a press conference in Nairobi on Tuesday. A further 400 000 Nigerians and 300 000 south Africans will receive free digital training, while another 100 000 people will be selected from other sub-Saharan Africa countries according to other media reports on Tuesday.
A release following the launch said, in realising this commitment, Google is supporting its partner Livity Africa to run two free training programs: Digify Bytes to offer digital skills to young people looking to develop a digital career; and Digify Pro, a 3-month immersion program for digital specialists.
Officiating at the launch, Kenya's ICT Principal Secretary for Broadcast Sammy Itemere welcomed Google's initiative saying it would go a long way to meet the challenges of lack of adequate skilled labour in the country.
"Statistics show that in 2013, 70% of unemployed people in Kenya were the youth and yet from population census 2009, the percentage of Kenyans aged between 18 and 35 are 30.3% of the total population. Consequently, 92% of unemployed youth have some form of formal education but do not posses any relevant skills. This now leads to the Question whether the current education system meets the demands of the 21st century workplace! and already the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is working to provide an answer to this," said Itemere.
"I wish to urge everyone who is looking to kickstart their career in the digital space, to boost their business online or acquire a new skill that will open new job or entrepreneurship opportunities for them, to visit www.digifyafrica.com and enroll for a course of their choice," Itemere said.
"The Digital Skills Program is aimed at helping more Kenyans play an integral part in the digital economy. With digital skills, everyone can succeed online, start a new business, grow their existing one, or share their passion," said Google Country Manager, Charles Murito.
To support the program, Google also launched an online-learning portal - digifyafrica.com- with a range of digital skills tutorials and courses, which will be available to anyone in Africa. The portal has been designed to be "light" to avoid excessive data usage, a major challenge for many African users.
These programs have already launched in Nigeria, Kenya & South Africa, and will be scaled to reach more people in the next 12 months. A group of 65 volunteer Googlers from around the world are helping the Livity team with content development, 'training the trainers' and, in some cases, delivering the training sessions.
These initiatives will see people in Kenya and Africa as a whole trained on subjects ranging from content creation, digital strategy, web design, social media and app development the aim being to help young Africans develop the skills to build businesses, create jobs and contribute to economic growth. "The internet is at the heart of economic growth. It is the great equalizer that breaks down barriers and provides opportunities, not only to the privileged in New York, but also to someone in a remote part of Kenya. We are going to equip the youth with the digital skills they need, to help align them with the market needs and keep the Kenyan growth engine running" Murito said.
Internet adoption in Africa is growing fast -- to an expected 490M users by 2020 -- but digital skills adoption has been slow. Youth unemployment rates are high across the region -- 35% in South Africa, 17% in Kenya, 13% in Nigeria. This presents huge opportunities for African businesses and young digital entrepreneurs. Developing digital entrepreneurship and creating new job opportunities for young people is critical to Africa's transformative growth.