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AfDB enrols 130,000 young Africans in digital skills drive




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TO mark International Youth Day,  the African Development Bank (AfDB) has announced the enrolment of 130,000 users in its Coding for Employment programme which prepares young Africans for growth in the digital economy. 

The milestone comes as Coding for Employment works to equip African youths with information and communications technology, entrepreneurship and soft skills needed to compete in a digital economy.

The programme’s online platforms offer in-demand technical courses such as web development, design, data science and digital marketing – for free.

With COVID-19 pandemic resulting in lockdowns and school closures across the continent, the Coding for Employment platforms experienced dramatic increases in the number of users. During a one-week period in September 2020, registrations skyrocketed by 38.5 per cent.

The AfDB said that through its partnership with the government of Nigeria to launch the Digital Nigeria eLearning platform during the pandemic, Coding for Employment had hit a combined total of 130,000 students.  Registered students are achieving a course completion rate of more than 80 per cent, the bank said..

“To win the battle against poverty in Africa, we must equip our youths with digital skills that empower them for the jobs of the future,” said Director of the Bank’s Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department Martha Phiri.

Students who took the online courses in the wake of COVID-19 in Africa said learning or honing digital skills helped them advance their careers.

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“During the lockdown period, I taught myself MS Excel, using the Coding for Employment platform. Participating in the training not only smoothed my rough Excel skills but also gave me the platform to network and push myself,” said Programme Graduate in Nigeria Hajara Ayuba in Nigeria.

“Thanks to the Coding for Employment program, I met one of the major criteria – data fluency and MS Excel skills – at my present NYSC place of primary assignment in Borno State Board of Internal Revenue Service. I was later retained in the job,” Ayuba added.

The Coding for Employment’s main digital training platform was launched in December 2019 in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Microsoft. It is accessible on mobile devices, even in low internet connectivity settings and has an affordable, easy-to-navigate, secured and private interface.

“The online training program started in tandem with the opening planned upgrade of physical Coding for Employment-branded Centers of Excellence piloted in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. The Bank aims to scale up to 130 centres across the continent in a decade.”

“The pandemic accelerated the adoption of online learning as a necessity. Coding for Employment swiftly leveraged its online digital skills platform to continue to offer a gateway for African youth to become more digitally capable,” said the bank’s Division Manager for Education and Skills Development Hendrina Chalwe Doroba,.

Following the pilot programme, Coding for Employment online courses are now available in 45 countries. Some 300 beneficiaries, like Shaawanatu Shuaibu, linked Coding for Employment to getting jobs. Shuaibu, a Coding for Employment programme graduate from the Gombe State Center of Excellence in Nigeria, said the course had broadened her understanding of content writing.

“I was able to organise the content of my CV, which secured me a call for an interview at Jaiz Bank Plc. My performance at the interview and fluency in communication got me posted to the Customer Service Unit of the Bank,” she added.

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Coding for Employment aims to create over nine million jobs and reach 32 million youths and women across Africa. The Coding for Employment programme is part of the bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative.

Coding, alongside artificial intelligence, has the potential to incrementally add 16 per cent or around $13 trillion by 2030 to current global economic output– an annual average contribution to productivity growth of about 1.2 per cent between now and 2030, according to a September 2018 report by the McKinsey Global Institute on the impact of AI on the world economy.

“If delivered, this impact would compare well with that of other general-purpose technologies through history,” noted McKinsey. “Consider, for instance, that the introduction of steam engines during the 1800s boosted labour productivity by an estimated 0.3 per cent a year, the impact from robots during the 1990s around 0.4 per cent, and the spread of IT during the 2000s 0.6 per cent.”

The McKinsey report is based on simulation models of the impact of AI at the country, sector, company and worker levels.

Taken together with a recent report by PwC, which found that AI technologies and applications would increase global GDP by up to 14 per cent between now and 2030, the McKinsey report offers more evidence that AI is poised to deliver big economic opportunities for those companies and workers best positioned.

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