Nairobi, KENYA: Over 1 million youths in Africa have benefited from a digital entrepreneurial program by tech giant Google in a bid to help them become more self-reliant.
Almost half a million Kenyans participated in the Digital Skills for Africa Programme that was launched in April 2016.
“When you think about Africa as it stands we have the average age as 19 years old. That is the youth dividend that we constantly talk about. And we talk about the potential of what we can do from an economic factor and how much we can reap from that strong youth dividend,” explained Charles Murito, Google Country Manager in Kenya.
Mr. Murito advised that to fully benefit from the youthful potential there was need to train the youth on the necessary skills in order to take advantage of the economic activities the Internet provides.
“As we speak we have over 226 million smart phone users across Africa. This number is predicted to more than double to reach the 500 million mark by 2020.We wanted to take our piece in that process and take advantage on how to build careers across the board that young users can actually benefit from,” he remarked.
Speaking at the Digital Skills for Africa event on Wednesday, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, that the Internet is at the heart of economic growth and a rising contributor to Kenya’s GDP.
“Initiatives such as Google’s Digital Skills for Africa support the development of digital entrepreneurship and new job opportunities which is critical to attaining transformative social and economic growth.” Said Mucheru.
Khadija Juma a beneficiary of the programme told Baraka FM that youth can opt for self-employment rather than wait for job opportunities to come along.
“Being an entrepreneur I have obtained digital skills which I pass on to my clients. I have helped them re-position and re-brand themselves on the cyber space so that they can sell their wares and expand their markets as well. Youth can employ technology as a learning tool and also market themselves on the available social media platforms,” she remarked.
Mr. Mucheru added that through evolution in technology people should be allowed to work from remote places.
He added that this will make Kenya become the freelancing headquarters of the world where the country starts exporting work.
“Awareness on this should be key. This is because there are many people who have been working silently online and they earn from this. Usually because they are working for overseas entities from here locally, they are mostly misunderstood. They are spotted driving posh cars and they are not seen to be working. In many cases they can be suspected to be operating illegal activities, whilst the opposite is true,” the CS cautioned.
The tech initiative goes hand in hand with Sustainable Development Goals SDGs 4 and 8.
SDG 4 calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion for lifelong learning.
SDG 8 advocates for promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.