Digital skills enhancing human capacity – Connecting Africa Foundation x Amazon Web Service webinar, August 2021

By 2030, an estimated two billion young people worldwide will be seeking ways to improve their lives, and if we equip them with the necessary skills, they will be able to realize their full potential, and their achievements will translate into long-term economic success for their communities. Building digital skills and using young people’s natural interest in technology are effective techniques for helping countries prosper, flourish, and compete in today’s global marketplaces.

To democratize technology and digital skills training in Africa, Connecting Africa Foundation, in collaboration with Amazon Web Services brought together some stakeholders championing digital skills training on the continent to discuss key challenges to Africa’s digital skills development. Leading the discussion was an impressive line-up of speakers, including: 

  • Izabela Milewska, AWS Global Digital Skills Lead
  • Dr. Ibilola Amao, Principal Consultant Lonadek
  • Njoki Gichinga, Sr Partnership & Business Development Specialist – Innovation Safaricom (Kenya)
  • Bernard Laurendeau, Managing Partner Laurendeau & Associates
  • Marlon Parker, Chief Executive Officer Rlabs
  • Ulrich Busch, Chief Executive Officer GetInnotized GmbH
  • Paula Gilbert, Editor Connecting Africa

Among the key issues discussed, were the following:

Understanding the digital skills landscape

  • Digital skills pyramid: It is made up of two major components.

The digital users – those at the bottom of the pyramid, with basic digital literacy skills which includes the abilities needed to effectively use ICT tools, systems, and devices to support non-ICT tasks and functions. The internet, apps, and basic software are all examples of user skills.

Digital creators – these are at the top of the pyramid. Thus, the abilities required for researching, creating, designing, planning, producing, administering and maintaining, supporting, and servicing ICT software and systems including the ability to solve problems using machine learning and artificial intelligence, big data, and cybersecurity in E-Business, E-commerce or digital entrepreneurship, all of which are powered by Cloud.

  • The most important skills in 2019: Cloud was named the most sought-after skill in 2019 in terms of highest-paying employment prospects, highest-paying certifications, most difficult hiring locations, and top tech investment sectors. That’s because the cloud is the ultimate enabler, opening up new revenue streams through artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Other issues, including data analytics, networking, project management, and cybersecurity, have all been influenced significantly by cloud use, which continues to rise.
  • Cloud skills challenge: Acquiring cloud skills can be quite challenging not simply because of their rarity, but also because they are so different from traditional knowledge. One of these challenges is that cloud skills encompass more than the ability to code, build or develop applications; they also include the ability to be familiar with the professional environment, thereby developing professional skills, all of which are influenced by how we work today.
  • Current state of the worldwide cloud job market: There are a total of 547,489 cloud-related vacancies posted globally according to LinkedIn.
  • Out of this number 2,578 vacancies are posted in Africa (0.47%)
  • 291,622( 53%) global cloud-related vacancies require AWS skills
  • 1,732(67%) AWS – related vacancies are posted in Africa

Acknowledging Africa’s economic potentials

Africa has the world’s largest and youngest workforce, with the number of young people set to triple by 2050. Furthermore, there is a significant economic opportunity in Africa’s rapidly growing technology sector, where demand for indigenous tech expertise is increasing. According to a recent study conducted by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and L.E.K. Consulting, demand for digital skills in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a faster rate than in other regions. According to the report, 230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa would demand digital skills by 2030, representing a $130 billion opportunity for investors and education providers.

Some of the opportunities digital skills training provides for young people in Africa’s underserved communities

In Africa, digital skills provide opportunities for not only young people but also their families. It provides additional set sets, giving young people a competitive edge in the employment market, allowing them to work for African tech start-ups or work remotely for companies outside the region.  Furthermore, digital skills enable people to access learning possibilities including e-learning materials and resources, which is particularly important during the COVID pandemic, when all forms of education have been moved online.

Conclusion

When it comes to preparing a country’s workforce for the future, digital skills training cannot be overlooked, and the webinar provided an opportunity for participants and experts to discuss issues impeding Africa’s digital transformation, such as the barriers influencing women’s digital skill development, the viability and accessibility of online educational resources for learners, and the difficulty of correctly integrating education to the jobs that are needed around the world.

Missed the event? Register to watch the full webinar here!

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