The African Development Bank (AfDB) has recently opened its second Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Center of Excellence at the United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) in Nairobi. This marks a significant achievement for the Bank’s Coding for Employment program and its growing partnerships with higher education and technical and vocational education and training institutions.
The opening ceremony, held on 1 February, was attended by representatives from Kenya’s Office of the President, officials from USIU-A, the African Development Bank Group, and technical partners Junior Achievement Kenya and Microsoft.
This Center of Excellence is just one example of the Bank’s commitment to supporting the next generation of African leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators. The AfDB’s Coding for Employment program is developing the capacity of African youth by equipping them with practical 21st-century skills, as well as employability and entrepreneurship skills, to increase their competitiveness in local and global labor markets.
The program is funded through a partnership between the Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation. Junior Achievement Kenya and Microsoft joined the Bank and Rockefeller Foundation collaboration to establish this second center in Kenya. These centers are open to youth aged 15-35 who have enrolled in the Coding for Employment program and who do not qualify or have the means to attend traditional university programs.
The University center is equipped with 40 computers, printers, desks, ergonomic office chairs, an equipped conference room, and projectors. Coding for Employment program beneficiaries have access to demand-driven digital skills, entrepreneurship, and soft skills curricula to boost their employability in information and communications technology or tech-enabled sectors.
“The United States International University-Africa is excited to partner with the African Development Bank in this initiative because it perfectly aligns with the University’s strategic plan that aims to educate our young people for complex global challenges and be the changemakers in Africa,” said the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Margee Ensign.
The AfDB’s commitment to promoting youth employment and empowering Africa’s youth with the necessary skills to excel in the modern economy is commendable. The Coding for Employment program, which has already reached 152,000 youth across the continent through online and in-person training, is a perfect example of the Bank’s dedication to providing practical training opportunities to young people in Africa.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker, Mukhtar Abdi Ogle, Secretary for Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the President of the Republic of Kenya, encouraged youth to have a growth mindset and join the government in its effort to upskill the youth with globally competitive digital skills towards decent and productive employment.
“The disproportionate barriers to technology access and lack of relevant skills in the technology sector contribute to the continent’s soaring unemployment rate. Therefore, digital skills are a critical factor in making young people more employable in the current economy, and our aim is to teach them to be different and disruptive,” said John Wali, Executive Director, Junior Achievement Kenya.
With the second Center of Excellence in Nairobi, the AfDB is well on its way to achieving its goal of empowering Africa’s youth with the skills needed to take on the challenges of the modern economy. The Bank’s unwavering commitment to promoting youth employment is an inspiration to all, and we eagerly look forward to the next phase of the Coding for Employment program.