TECHNOLOGY

Bridging the tech gap: Power Learn Project targets 1 million developers

About 230 million jobs in Africa will require some level of digital skills by 2030.

In Summary

•More businesses are adopting technology for growth, with the Covid-19 pandemic environment forcing many to go digital to survive.

•Power Learn Project has since embarked on a programme that will see one million young people trained and empowered with technology skills.

Power Learn Project board chair John Kamara /HANDOUT
Power Learn Project board chair John Kamara /HANDOUT

Africa is facing a huge digital skills gap that is diluting economic opportunities and development, experts now say.

This, even as more businesses adopt technology for growth, with the Covid-19 pandemic environment forcing many to go digital to survive.

According to a study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), about 230 million jobs in Africa will require some level of digital skills by 2030.

This translates to about 650 million training opportunities and an estimated $130 billion (Sh15.36 trillion) market, with the need for these skills becoming more apparent since 2020.

Power Learn Project, a Pan African impact organization has since embarked on a programme that will see one million young people trained and empowered with technology skills.

Dunned ‘One Million Developers for Africa’ (#1MillionDevs4Africa), the programme that started in Kenya in May targets a million developers by 2027 across 10 African countries.

“Currently we are in our first cohort of 1,000 developers in Kenya. The reason we started this programme is because we realized there is a huge gap in terms of tech talent,” said Mumbi Ndung’u, Chief Growth and Operations Officer at Power Learn Project(PLP).

PLP is an impact organization whose goal is to drive transformative change for youth in Africa by powering them with software development skills through decentralized online training.

The software development scholarship program runs for a period of 16 weeks.

According to Ndung’u, PLP works with strategic partners to provide practical experiences and job opportunities to scholars after completion of the program.

The hybrid  junior software development training is conducted on a user-friendly Learning Management System and is guided by Power Learn’s expert instructors. The platform is free data access meaning no cost of data to the learner.

It covers python programming, dart programming with flutter,an introduction to blockchain technologies, web technologies (PHP, HTML, JAVA), databases (SQL Programming, employment and entrepreneurship skills.

The programme is targeted at youths in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia, and later to West and North Africa in phase two.

Nairobi continues to remain an attractive investment and a tech hub, attracting tech giants such as Google and Microsoft.

Speaking in an interview with the Star, Power Learn Project board chair John Kamara said tech remains key in driving trade in the continent under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

“AfCTA should find a way to get startups. Tech companies will be key in driving trade in the continental,” Kamara said.

He noted noted that Africa is made up of 80 per cent SMEs whom will be key in driving trade and services under the AfCFTA.

The continental agreement will create the largest free trade area in the world, according to the World Bank, measured by the number of countries participating.

The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion.

“It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures,” World Bank notes.

According to Kamara, there is need to continued investment in tech, which is the current and future driver of key sectors.

These include health, trade, tourism, agriculture among others.

“Climate change is another thing that we need to look at from a tech angle. We can come up with a lot of solutions,” Kamara said.

Speaking during a Power Leran Project in Nairobi, Chief Administrative Secretary in Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Nadia Ahmed, said the government will continue to partner with the private sector to grow the tech sector.

“Kenya is vey well placed when it comes to technology. The government will continue investing and providing a conducive environment for development of the key sector,” Ahmed said.

Policy remains a key challenge in driving tech in Kenya and the continent, industry players say.

Nevertheless, Kenya is considered a leading technology and innovation hub in Africa.

The development of a large-scale telecommunications infrastructure in the country, capable of delivering efficient and affordable info-communications services is recognised as a critical prerequisite for the country's economic growth.

The country if leading Africa’s technology landscape as brands are using digital transformation to meet consumer demands.

According to brand valuation consultancy firm–Brand Finance, Kenyan brands are disrupting the brick-and-mortar business model and equipping businesses with technological means to actively connect with end users.

Brands have achieved remarkable brand value growth of 72 per cent year-on-year, the global firm notes.

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