The African Development Bank has opened a second Information and Communications Technology Centre of Excellence at the United States International University-Africa in Nairobi to boost youths digital skills. This marks an important milestone for the Bank’s Coding for Employment program and its growing partnerships with higher education and technical and vocational education and training institutions.
Representatives from Kenya’s Office of the President joined officials from United States International University-Africa and the African Development Bank Group for the opening ceremony held on 1 February.
“This Center of Excellence is just one example of the Bank’s commitment to supporting the next generation of African leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators. By working together to provide young people with the tools and resources they need to succeed, we are all helping to create a more prosperous and inclusive future for all,” said Hendrina Doroba, the Bank’s Division Manager for Education and Skills Development, speaking on behalf of the Bank’s Director General for Eastern Africa, Nnenna Nwabufo.
“The future will be shaped by technology, and it is our responsibility to prepare our young people for the challenges that lie ahead,” she added.
The African Development Bank’s Coding for Employment program is developing the capacity of African youth by equipping them with practical 21st century digital skills, as well as employability and entrepreneurship skills, to increase their competitiveness in local and global labor markets. The program is funded through a partnership between the Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Technical partners Junior Achievement Kenya and Microsoft joined the Bank and Rockefeller Foundation collaboration to establish this second center in Kenya. These centers are open to youth aged 15 – 35 who have enrolled in the Coding for Employment program, and who do not qualify or have the means to attend traditional university programs. Coding for Employment and its partners aim to reach over 1,800 Kenyan youth through the two centers.
“[The United States International University-Africa] is excited to partner with the African Development Bank in this initiative because it perfectly aligns with the University’s strategic plan that aims to educate our young people for complex global challenges and be the changemakers in Africa,” said the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Margee Ensign.
Coding for Employment program beneficiaries have access to demand-driven digital skills, entrepreneurship, and soft skills curriculum to boost their employability in information and communications technology or tech-enabled sectors. The university center is equipped with 40 computers, printers, desks, ergonomic office chairs, an equipped conference room and projectors.
“The disproportionate barriers to technology access and lack of relevant skills in the technology sector contribute to the continent’s soaring unemployment rate. Therefore, digital skills are a critical factor in making young people more employable in the current economy and our aim is to teach them to be different and disruptive,” said John Wali, Executive Director, Junior Achievement Kenya.
Ceremony keynote speaker Mukhtar Abdi Ogle, Secretary for Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the President of the Republic of Kenya, encouraged youth to have a growth mindset and join the government in its effort to upskill the youth with globally competitive digital skills towards decent and productive employment.
Coding for Employment opened the first Kenyan Center of Excellence at the University of Nairobi in March 2022. Overall, online and in person Coding for Employment programs have reached 152,000 youth across the continent.