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Invest in specialised skills, tech firms tip government


Kenyan policy makers have been urged to invest in the training and nurturing of specialised skills to expand the country’s rapidly growing ICT industry.
According to CEOs of leading global technology firms, Kenya urgently needs to equip its youth with specialised skills required to compete across the digital economy.
US-based multinational Google is one of the firms that have been at the front advocating for improvements in the country’s ICT curriculum.
The firm recently revealed it had completed its ambitious programme to train one million African youth with digital and entrepreneurship skills.
Launched in April 2016, the Google’s Digital Skills for Africa Programme delivered trainings through both face-to-face by Google partners and through an online platform the firm set up.
Through the platform and trainings, the students were expected to build an online presence, create content, understand web design and user experience, social media and app development.
“In 2016, we committed to train one million young Africans in digital skills within a year,” explained Charles Murito, Google Kenya Country Manager. Of the one million youth trained, 97 per cent were trained offline, in person through 14 partner organisations spread across Africa.
In Kenya, the partners included Centum Learning, Africa 118, and E-Mobilis.
Most of the programme trainees came from Kenya and Nigeria where Google has been able to develop key strategic relationships with youth organisations and government institutions.
Mr Murito stated that Kenya had a strong showing in the programme and that the firm was able to exceed its target across sub-Saharan Africa indicating a demand for the learning resources.
“Now that we’ve trained 400,000 youth in Kenya and exceeded the one million overall target, we plan to focus a lot more on driving deep impact at the regional, county and local community levels through partnerships that lead directly to job creation and business growth,” Murito stated. Speaking at the Digital Skills for Africa event, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru acknowledged the need to build on the existing skills to safeguard Kenya’s position in the global digital economy.
“The Internet is at the heart of economic growth and a rising contributor to Kenya’s GDP,” he said.
“Initiatives such as Google’s Digital Skills for Africa support the development of digital entrepreneurship and new job opportunities critical to attaining transformative social and economic growth.
The next phase of program me will see Google extend its commitment to help communities outside urban centres in Africa acquire digital skills.
This will be achieved by rolling out offline versions of the online training materials to reach individuals and businesses in low access areas.
According to World Bank data, about 74 per cent of Kenya’s total population resided in rural areas.
Mr Mucheru observed that the government’s own Ajira Digital Programme launched early this year to enable young people obtain paying jobs online, will be looped into Google’s next project phase.
Plans to have offline trainings delivered in African languages such as Swahili, Zulu and Hausa are also underway with the hope to reach students, job seekers and business owners.

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