IBM invests Sh7 billion to train 25m youth in Africa
By Dominic Omondi | February 9th 2017
Tech giant IBM is investing $70 million (Sh7.3 billion) to build digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills to help support a 21st century workforce in Africa.
The initiative, "IBM Digital - Nation Africa", provides a cloud-based learning platform designed to provide free skills development programmes for up to 25 million African youths over five years, enabling digital competence and nurturing innovation in Africa. This is part of IBM's global push to build the next generation of skills needed for 'New Collar' careers. 'New Collar' is a term used by IBM to describe new kinds of careers that do not always require a four-year college degree but rather sought-after skills in cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence, cloud, and much more.
For the youth of Africa to benefit from a cognitive future there needs to be a much higher level of digital literacy. At the top of the skills pyramid are developers, who need to know how to create solutions that can leverage the power of cognitive, and entrepreneurs who are aware of the potential.
Through a free, cloud-based online learning environment delivered on IBM Bluemix, the cloud platform for business, the initiative will provide a range of programs from basic IT literacy to highly sought-after advanced IT skills including social engagement, digital privacy, and cyber protection.
With the aim of equipping as many as 25 million people with sought after IT skills over the next five years, the program will be launched from IBM's regional offices in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, and Egypt. This will enable the expansion of the initiative across the continent.
"IBM sees effective, high quality IT education as a key driver of economic vitality in Africa. Through access to open standards, best practices, IBM tools, and course materials, the broad scope of this initiative will enable vital skills development," says Hamilton Ratshefola, country general manager for IBM South Africa. "In order to find solutions to Africa's challenges, industries across the spectrum need to enable the existing and future workforce to perform at the forefront of technologies such as cognitive and cloud computing. This will be the key to spurring economic growth."
The initiative will be supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which has a special focus on fostering market-driven ICT skills in Africa and the Middle East. "UNDP is pleased to leverage its global presence, development knowledge, and long standing partnerships to provide context, traction and scale to this collaboration with IBM," says Mr Walid Badawi, UNDP Country Director in South Africa.
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