By Caroline Dubois
Mamadou Gouro Sidibé of Mali could have continued his comfortable life working for the French National CBy Caroline Dubois Mamadou Gouro Sidibé of Mali could have continued his comfortable life working for the French National Center for Scientific Research, but in 2017 he decided to return to his country to develop Lenali—a voice-based social network app.
By Prof. Jill Cottrell Ghai
The overall vision in the Constitution is of a Kenya where everyone is equal and equally respected. Article 56 requires affirmative action programmes to help minorities and marginalised groups (including women) participate in all aspects of life, including governance, special opportunities in educational and economic fields and for access to employment as well as reasonable access to water, health services and infrastructure (like roads).
By BEN NYABIRA
It was a captivating, warm and lively evening at the largest informal settlement in Kenya. The event was the final one of the 2018 Samosa Festival which focused on the Constitution of Kenya 2010 against the backdrop of recent calls for its review. The event, on 11 July at the Kibera Town Centre (KTC) between 6:30 and 8:30pm, focused on questions such as what the people understand about the Constitution, what their role is in its implementation and what they can do to localize it. The participants were also allowed to ask other governance questions.
A useful strategy in the toolbox to reduce youth unemployment
BY RAPHAEL OBONYO
With a majority of African nations diversifying from traditional sources of income, entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a key to economic growth. So far, entrepreneurship has yielded huge returns for entrepreneurs, and according to experts, there lies great untapped potential to drive the African continent into its next phase of development.
BY KACI RACELMA
Soufian El-Kherchi, an intern at Clean Rabat, a small organization in Morocco’s capital, spent most of his days giving information technology support and setting up its network.
Bustling with ideas and plans for the future, Mr. El-Kherchi, a computer science major, looked forward to formal employment after his internship. However, one day he got thinking about starting his own IT business.
One of Africa’s leading tech start-up spreads its wings
BY KWAMBOKA OYARO
It was a bright morning in March 2010, when a group of tech-savvy youths converged at a small hall in Nairobi to discuss innovation and technology. Four young women exchanged phone numbers, clearly excited by plans they shared that would put some of the novel ideas they discussed to good use.
Zambia’s youngest mayor urges youth to get active in politics
BY MWIKA SIMBEYE
For many young people in Africa, a university degree opens the door to a decent job and a comfortable life. At university, however, not every student will focus on their studies; some often lose concentration as they enjoy a new-found freedom from what they perceive as the overbearing influence of parents or guardians.
Botswana’s Mavis Nduchwa, 33, owns an animal feed farm that grows grains and legumes
BY IHUOMA ATANGA
Run a quick Google search on African women making it in business, and you will rarely find a young woman engaged in rural farming. But Mavis Nduchwa has challenged norms by founding and successfully managing a commercial animal feed farm in Botswana.
Leaders put job-creation programmes on the front burner
BY KINGSLEY IGHOBOR
African governments are confronting unemployment in many different ways. In Senegal, with 200,000 Senegalese joining the labour market each year, President Macky Sall launched a programme in February 2013 to create 30,000 jobs within a year and possibly 300,000 by 2017. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is financing some of Senegal’s self-employment programmes for youth and women.
Youth discontented with politics yet less likely to vie or even vote
BY FRANCK KUWONU
When law enforcement officers rounded up a group of political demonstrators in The Gambia’s capital, Banjul, in December 2016, most of those arrested were young people. They were protesting against The Gambia’s then president Yahya Jammeh’s decision to stay in office after having initially conceded defeat to his electoral opponent, Adama Barrow. Under sustained local and international pressure, he finally relinquished power and went into exile.
New educational platforms transfer skills and spur innovation among young people
BY JACOB KUSHNER
Somewhere between the equator and the Kenyan town of Nanyuki, five students sit inside a classroom watching a YouTube video describe how to extract aluminum from bauxite. “Once you see it, it makes it so easy,” exclaims 19-year-old Kenneth Karue.
Two years ago Gakawa Secondary School had no internet access. But thanks to an initiative by Mawingu Networks, a solar-powered internet service provider, rural Kenyan youth are going online for the first time, and with amazing results. High school students like Karue, who didn’t know how to use a keyboard, much less a search engine, are now Googling entry requirements for information technology programmes at Nairobi universities.
Some of these students aspire to careers in Africa’s blossoming information and communications technology (ICT) sector. The World Bank estimated that in 2016, African nations would invest between $155 billion and $180 billion in the ICT sector, accounting for 6%–7% of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP). But young people say there are major barriers preventing them from finding jobs in the industry.
“We have a lot of young people. But unfortunately they come from neighborhoods that don’t have a lot of opportunities,” says Tim Nderi, the chief executive officer of Mawingu Networks.
Since 2013 Microsoft has invested in Mawingu Networks on the premise that enabling young Africans to access the digital world is the first step towards getting them employed in it.
However, “Do people have access to the internet, and is that access affordable?” asked Microsoft’s Anthony Cook in an interview with Africa Renewal. “As you think about moving towards a knowledge economy, you have to be able to take the bulk of the population with you.”
By October 2016, ten thousand people were using Mawingu’s internet in four different Kenyan counties. And in September, former President Barack Obama lauded Microsoft and Mawingu’s success during his address at the US-Africa Business Forum in Cape Town.
Many African countries have embraced the idea of a knowledge economy, a term coined in the 1960s to describe economies in which the production and use of knowledge are paramount. Academic institutions and companies engaging in research and development are important foundations of such a system. And so are those who apply this knowledge—the programmers developing new software and search engines to use data, and the health workers who use data to improve treatments.
A long way to go
Some African governments have begun employing tech-ready youth in the public sector. In Kenya, where an estimated 5 million youth are unemployed, the Presidential Digital Talent Programme recruited 400 university graduates to work on major projects at different ministries. A $150 million, five-year public-private partnership launched last year by the World Bank set out to help 280,000 unemployed Kenyan youth learn about employment opportunities and undergo employ-ability training.
But elsewhere on the continent, such government initiatives have fallen short. Three years after it began, Innovate Lagos, a 2013 Nigerian government-funded ICT incubator that set out to prepare youth and other entrepreneurs to “drive growth and development through innovation,” no longer even owns the domain name of its website.
Africans have good reason to be hesitant about the idea of their countries’ economies being centered on information technology. “Many of the new jobs that have been created over the past two decades are fundamentally different from the ones that have been lost, and the new jobs tend to favour educated workers over those with less education and skills,” says author Dan Tapscott in the 2014 edition of The Digital Economy, his book about the global ICT industry.
For those preparing for careers in ICT, access to the internet and to education are fundamental prerequisites. Fortunately, in places like Nigeria, cellular internet is becoming eminently affordable.
This article is republished by The Youth Café courtesy of Jacob Kushner, and UN Africa Renewal. Additional input added by Kelvin Kiprotich.
Training more female techies could help close the gender gap in computing
BY FATIMATOU SENE
At Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Angela Koranteng was an accomplished student with a special dream. At a time when few women were breaking the gender barrier in male dominated studies, Ms. Koranteng had her heart set on health sciences—but instead of treating patients, she wanted to be an engineer and build hospitals.
Africa’s millennials are using technology to drive change
BY ELENI MOURDOUKOUTAS
When some 276 teenage girls were kidnapped from their boarding school in northeastern Nigeria in April 2014, Oby Ezekwesili, a civil society activist and former World Bank vice president, was disheartened by the lacklustre response of her government and local television stations.
Training young African leaders can take societies to great heights
BY FRANCK KUWONU
Thanks to a unique fellowship at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) as an Ibrahim Leadership Fellow, Marian Yinusa is making an impact in the lives of school-age girls in her birthplace of northern Nigeria.
Voices of young Africans are becoming difficult to ignore
BY BUSANI BAFANA
A new wave is sweeping across Africa. Elections on the continent are increasingly yielding younger leadership than ever before. From presidents to ministers and governors, senators to members of parliament, Africa’s young people are demanding a seat at the political table.