AfDB, Microsoft launch digital coding program targeting African youth

The headquarters of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) as pictured in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
The headquarters of the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) as pictured in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. PHOTO/COURTESY: Google

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has partnered with technology firm Microsoft to launch the ‘Coding for Employment Program’, an online tool to provide digital skills to African youth, wherever they are across the continent.

The platform, launched at the 2019 African Economic Conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, aims to promote a continuous learning culture among young people and build their capacity to shape the continent’s future.

 “The youth employment and skills development challenge is a complex issue that requires systemic thinking and bold partnerships to address the existing skills gap and link youth to decent and sustainable employment. The skills training platform launched today is a testament to the impact that such partnerships can achieve and the Bank looks forward to strengthening similar partnerships,” said Hendrina Doroba, AfDB Acting Director for Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development.

The platform teaches technical courses such as web development, design, data science and digital marketing and will be constantly adapted to respond to market demand. It is accessible on mobile devices, even in low internet connectivity settings and has an affordable, easy-to-navigate, secured and private interface.

“A defining challenge of our time is ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity to benefit from technology. Forward-thinking initiatives such as the digital training platform represent our commitment to helping drive the momentum needed. Though there is still much work to be done, we believe that through dynamic partnerships such as these, we can help build a knowledge-based economy in Africa that leaves no person behind,” Ghada Khalifa, Director of Microsoft Philanthropies for the Middle East and Africa, said at the launch.

The Coding for Employment Program is a crucial part of  AfDB’s strategy to create 25 million jobs by 2025, and to equip 50 million African youth with competitive skills. The Bank piloted the program in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire and is currently developing 14 ultra-modern centers specialized in ICT and entrepreneurship skills training for youth.

The goal is to scale up the program to 130 centers of excellence across the continent over a 10-year period. It will create nine million jobs by building synergies with the public and the private sector globally to deliver demand-driven, agile and collaborative skills to empower young people to become innovative players in the digital economy.

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