Tuesday, July 11, 2017

IBM to Train 5m Nigerians, 25 Million Africans to Build capacity for digital jobs

Global ICT solutions provider, IBM is ramping up its digital-skills training program to accommodate as many as 25 million Africans in the next five years, looking toward building a future workforce on the continent.
The U.S. tech giant plans to make an initial investment of $70 million to roll out the training initiative in South Africa, a country where 31 percent of people between 15 and 24 are unemployed, according to Statistics South Africa. Other countries set to benefit in this program include Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, enabling the expansion of the project across the continent.
“Africa will have the largest workforce by 2040 and IBM wants to lay the foundation blocks to build a digital workforce,’’ Juan Pablo Napoli, head of IBM Skills Academy, said by phone from Dubai. “We will be providing a free cloud-based learning platform able to train people from basic computer skills to high-end app development.”
The move may help bring and keep digital jobs in Africa instead of losing them to India, said Hamilton Ratshefola, IBM’s country manager for South Africa. As many as 50,000 such jobs are currently farmed out from Africa, predominantly to India, Ratshefola said. “If the program is implemented successfully over the five-year period all these jobs can be moved to Africa, where people will be equipped with the right set of skills,” he said.
Mr. Dipo Falkner, country general manager, IBM West Africa, also disclosed that the company would be training five million Nigerians over the next two years on information and communications technology skills required to enhance the small and medium enterprises (SME) business entrepreneurs.
He made this known during the Nigeria International Technology Exhibition and Conference (NITEC 2017) held in Lagos last week. According to him, plans have been made to start up the programme tagged “Digital Nations Africa” in the last quarter of 2017.
In addition, he disclosed that another mandate of IBM is to help in improving the skill level of technology in Nigeria by training and partnering with Nigerian Universities. “We partner with Nigerian universities. It’s an ongoing exercise whereby we make available a set of  solutions to the universities and both the university students and their faculties can get trained and certified on these solutions”, he said.

The company has partnered with the United Nations in extending the initiative throughout Africa. IBM is also talking to a number of other potential partners, including mobile-phone companies, to further scale the program, Ratshefola said. In South Africa, IBM already is working with phone carrier Vodacom Group Ltd., he said.

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