Coding for Employment Program — Preparing the youth for the jobs of tomorrow remains a necessity in Africa, where many lack the digital knowledge and soft skills required to succeed. To address that shortfall, the African Development Bank hopes its latest Coding for Employment Program will render African youth more able to take on current and future jobs across the continent.
The AfDB digital skills training program launched earlier this month as a component of the wider Jobs for Youth in Africa flagship initiative, targeting information and communication technology, agriculture, and industrialization sectors as high potential for youth job inclusion, aiming to “equip 50 million youth with employable skills and create 25 million jobs.”
While AfDB is widely recognized as the premier financial institution in Africa — and applauded for its advancements on road connectivity, increased access to energy, and the construction of hospitals — experts argue that the bank’s most tangible social impact will be investing in the youth.
Digital innovations have the power to both solve the continent’s development challenges and generate new job opportunities for a youth population expected to surpass 830 million by 2050. However, as digitalization spreads quickly across sectors such as health and education, there might be a bigger gap between a fast growing workforce and an unemployed population that don’t possess the necessary skills.
“What has already become clear with the fourth industrial revolution is that every job will require some sort of digital knowledge”
“What has already become clear with the fourth industrial revolution is that every job will require some sort of digital knowledge,” Uyoyo Edosio, Coding for Employment Program task manager, told Devex.
“Africa is consuming but often lagging behind,” she said.
Although studies estimate that more than 420 million Africans have mobile phones, it has been shown that 70 percent of users still lack access to the internet, only using mobile phones for dialing, without sufficient digital knowledge of more complex functions.
Over the next 10 years, the AfDB’s Coding for Employment Program seeks to change these statistics by creating 9 million jobs, and by training more than 230,000 young people aged between 16 to 35, in areas of digital literacy. An additional anticipated outcome is that equipped youth will create their own businesses, causing a ripple effect where these local businesses create jobs and expose more youth to digital skills through mentorship and peer learning.
A two-pronged approach will not only train the youth but invest in digital infrastructure by building technology parks and roughly 130 ICT centers of excellence across the continent.
Pilot programs have already begun in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya, and Rwanda.
To date, feasibility studies in Nigeria and Kenya have been conducted by training programs finalized with volunteers from local universities — the recruitment of local country program managers is also underway.
Uyoyo told Devex that english speaking countries — Nigeria, Kenya, and Rwanda — will begin recruiting participants in August, with a focus on underserved populations and young women. french speaking countries, such as Senegal and Ivory Coast, will likely begin scouting students starting October.
AfDB has also set a commitment to match the salary of anyone who secures an internship following their coding training, Uyoyo told Devex.
“There should be no reason why a student couldn’t take a job because he could not survive with the cushion that the bank is providing him — we hope [this] will also incentivize the general market to take on these youth,” she continued.
“In short, the thinking behind the program is to raise a generation of tech-enabled youth who are not just able to use computers — but programmers, graphic designers, youth who have first-hand knowledge of ICT,” Uyoyo said.