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The collaboration between two financiers and technology companies is targeting to unleash Africa’s next generation of digital innovators.

During an African Innovation Summit in Kigali, Rwanda; the African Development Bank (AfDB), together with The Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and Facebook launched the Coding for Employment Program.

 Through this programme, a demand-driven Information and Communications Technology (ICT) curriculum will be rolled-out, planned to match graduates directly with ICT employers.

As the world moves towards a fourth industrial revolution, the demand for digitisation across sectors is on the rise. Read more: Erongo RED collaborates with AUTC to boost ICT infrastructure

Digital innovations have the power to solve the continent’s development challenges and are generating new job opportunities.

The youth population is rapidly growing and by 2050, is expected to double to over 830 million.

Yet, the digital divide in Africa persists and critical skills gaps pose serious challenges to youth securing quality and decent work in a rapidly changing workforce.

“Coding for Employment accelerates investments in Africa’s most valuable resource – its young women and men. That’s why The Rockefeller Foundation is thrilled to join forces with the African Development Bank to help every young African reach their full potential, said Mamadou Biteye, OBE, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Managing Director for Africa.

“Our partnership with the African Development Bank will establish 130 Centres of Excellence across Africa to help bridge the gap between the digital hiring news of employers and the skills of Africa’s youth,” Biteye affirmed.

Digital skills becoming essential

According to Ghada Khalifa, director of Microsoft Philanthropies for the Middle East and Africa: “Digital skills are fast becoming essential for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Unfortunately, these skills are beyond the reach of too many young people in Africa. Together with our partners like the African Development Bank, we are working to change that.”

Sherry Dzinoreva, head of policy programmes at Facebook, said: “We are excited to partner with the African Development Bank on the launch of the coding for employment program in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal.

"Coding for Employment ensures digital skills are accessible to young people and supports youth with securing meaningful opportunities where they can apply their talents, ideas and expertise to advance the continent’s economic and social development."