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Using Digital Skills to Take Advantage of Africa’s Youth Dividend

Image credit: Eduvos

“Using Digital Skills to Take Advantage of Africa’s Youth Dividend” was a panel discussion at #GECPlusAfrica24 which comprised of esteemed figures from various sectors and shed light on the challenges and opportunities surrounding digital skills in Africa. 

The panel included trailblazers such as Mixo Ngoveni, Co-Founder of Geekulcha, Zandile Mkwanazi, CEO and Founder of GirlCode, Sherrie Donaldson, Stakeholder Sector Engagement Lead at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, and Bongiwe Beja-Ntsiko, Executive Director of Youth Bridge Trust, along with Dr. Riaan Steenberg, Executive Director of Eduvos & Director of Operations at the NetEd Group. 

Throughout the discussion, a central theme emerged: the urgent need to cultivate digital skills to drive innovation and prosperity across the continent. 

Dr. Riaan Steenberg shared insightful observations, highlighting the pressing need for governments to recognise the importance of technological self-sufficiency and AI leadership. He added that technological self-sufficiency should be as high a priority as essentials like electricity and water, warning against the risks of technological colonialism and advocating for Africa to assert control over its digital future. Dr. Steenberg also pointed out the alarming trend of foreign companies registering patents in Africa, underscoring the need for local innovation and investment in research and technological innovation. 

Sherrie Donaldson, in her remarks, underscored the pivotal role of education in shaping the future workforce. She emphasised the importance of equipping individuals with the right skills to thrive in the digital age, stressing that skills education should be lifelong and adaptive to the evolving demands of the job market. 

Zandile Mkwanazi echoed these sentiments, stating that the need for education must evolve along with the demands of the job market. Online education can be leveraged to upskill working professionals at scale, thereby ensuring their continued relevance in a rapidly changing landscape. 

However, the panel also addressed significant challenges hindering progress. One such challenge is the lack of context-specific digital skills programmes tailored to the African context. Zandile Mkwanazi and Dr Steenberg agreed that we need to design programmes that address the unique needs and challenges of African entrepreneurs. 

Moreover, the discussion delved into the role of governments and policies in closing the digital skills gap. Dr. Steenberg highlighted the need for governments to prioritise technological self-sufficiency and invest in innovation to stimulate economic growth. He warned against the dangers of technological colonialism, urging African nations to assert control over their digital futures. 

As the conversation drew to a close, the panellists agreed on the importance of collaboration and partnership in driving meaningful change. They highlighted the role of organisations, community centres, and hubs in scaling up digital skills initiatives and closing the digital divide. 

The discussion served as a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of digital skills in unlocking Africa’s vast opportunities. By fostering collaboration, innovation, and investment in education, we can empower the next generation of African leaders to thrive in the digital age. Let us continue to work together towards a brighter, more prosperous future for all Africans. 

Article originally published by Eduvos.

Lynn Brown
Lynn Brown
Lynn is a content marketer that focuses on brand storytelling through digital platforms. Skilled in a background of web development, search engine optimization and content production, Lynn is excited to utilize over 10 years’ experience in digital marketing to help grow the ecosystems that support Africa’s very young entrepreneurs to ensure their success.

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