By Alphonso Van Marsh
The African Development Bank’s Coding for Employment program has selected 500 changemakers, 45% of whom are women, from four countries for the pilot Digital Ambassadors Program.
The selected Digital Ambassadors will embark on a three-month course during which they will be equipped with in-demand digital skills, such as software development, as well as soft skills, such as problem solving, project management and communication. They will then lead a peer-to-peer training model that seeks to expand digital skills to more African youth, especially in rural communities with limited internet connectivity.
The Bank and its technical partner, Microsoft, selected the Digital Ambassadors from more than 21,000 applications received from all over Africa. For this first edition, the 500 Digital Ambassadors were selected from four countries where the Coding for Employment program is operational, namely Côte d’Ivoire (75), Kenya (100), Nigeria (150) and Senegal (175).
“The Digital Ambassadors Program has come at the right time when the Bank is putting finishing touches to the Skills for Employability and Productivity in Africa Action Plan 2022–2025. The Action Plan will equip African youth with the skills that are in high demand; skills the labour market requires. Both will complement each other and will create positive impact on Africa’s workforce and lead to economic transformation,” said Martha Phiri, the Bank’s Director for Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development.
After graduation, the Digital Ambassadors will receive information and communication technology toolkits from the Bank and Microsoft so they can offer the same training within their local communities.
The Bank launched the Coding for Employment in 2018 to equip African youth with demand-driven information and communication technology skills to position them competitively for the global labour market. The program has established information and communication technology centers with partner universities across its countries of operation and provided digital skills training to over 150,000 youth, including 135,000 reached through the Coding for Employment eLearning platform and the Digital Nigeria platform.
The Coding for Employment Program is at the center of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, which aims to propel Africa’s youth onto a path to prosperity. By 2025, the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy will equip 50 million youth with employable skills and create 25 million jobs in agriculture, information and communication technology and other key industries across Africa.
“We are delighted by the enthusiasm and the passion the candidates have shown for the program. We have sifted through all the applications to identify candidates whose background and qualifications closely match the selection criteria. The 500 candidates will not only acquire skills that can help them find work but will also be able to create their own jobs while also training others,” said Hendrina Doroba, the Bank’s Manager for Education and Skills Development.
Carelle Laetitia, one of the Digital Ambassadors, said, “When I received the selection email, I felt happy and above all proud. I know it was not easy to be selected among hundreds of talented youths. I hope to build a strong network and acquire solid digital skills in order to share them with my community.”
Over the years, the Bank has invested $1.64 billion in programs to prepare the youth for careers in science, technology and innovation. The Digital Ambassadors Program is aligned to the Skills for Employability and Productivity in Africa, and both tie in with one of the Bank’s five priorities — improving the quality of life for the people of Africa.