The African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched its Coding for Employment Program at the African Innovation Summit in Kigali along with partners The Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and Facebook.
The AfDB said the initiative will train people and then match graduates to employers with the objective to create 9 million jobs and reach 32 million people (primarily youth and women) in Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal.
The organisation anticipates that the African youth population will likely double by 2050 to over 830 million, even as the digital divide on the continent persists and the critical skills gap poses a serious challenge to youth securing employment.
Oley Dibba-Wadda, Director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development at AfDB said, "As part of this new Program, we seek to cultivate the next generation of innovators and to empower young women to lead the continent's digital revolution. Investments in youth through programs like Coding for Employment can stimulate inclusive economic growth, put Africa and its youth on the cutting edge of technological innovations and ensure the digital transformation of Africa is led and managed by young Africans for the benefit of the people of Africa,"
Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director for Africa at The Rockefeller Foundation says coding for employment will accelerate investment in Africa growing population and the continent's most valuable resource.
"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,"
Ghada Khalifa, Director of Microsoft Philanthropies for the Middle East and Africa added: "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. The partnership between Microsoft and the African Development Bank will continue to focus on increasing the participation of underserved youth and women while equipping youth across Africa with the skills needed to fill jobs now and in the future."
In April Lagos local government announced plans to establish 5 000 new coding centres in 2018.
The intention is to create the centres in primary and secondary schools under the second phase of the CodeLagos initiative launched in 2016, with the aim to teach one million residents basic coding skills.
Obafela Bank-Olemoh, special adviser to the governor on education, said the CodeLagos initiative has trained over 15,000 people. "I believe we can educate one million people in the language of the future. Our success in Lagos State will create a ripple effect across Nigeria, and if we can change Nigeria, we can change Africa. If we can change Africa, we can undoubtedly change the world."