Rockefeller Foundation pumping $100 million into Africa’s digital scene

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Africa is where it is at and its digital/tech scene is all the rage. Bigwigs are noticing the continent. The latest group to take interest in Africa is the Rockefeller Foundation, which announced a new initiative that will focus on Africa’s youth and employment, Digital Jobs Africa.

The foundation has pledged nearly US$100-million to Africa’s digital sector in the hopes of impacting “one million lives in six countries through leverage and private sector partnership”.

According to the foundation the investment will impact people who would not otherwise have an opportunity for sustainable employment through jobs and skills for youth in the tech sector.

“The Digital Jobs Africa initiative builds on three years of the Foundation’s existing work and will focus on high potential youth who lack access to jobs and economic opportunities. The initiative, led out of the Foundation’s Africa Regional office in Nairobi, Kenya, will continue on for the next 7 years and leverage significant funds and support from other stakeholders,” says the organisation.

The announcement came at this year’s World Economic Forum taking place in Cape Town, South Africa. Rockefeller Foundation President Juidth Rodin the audience that South Africa would be one of the six countries chosen to be part of the initiative. The others are Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco and Egypt.

“The country selection was based on high levels of youth unemployment, the growth of their ICT-enabled sectors, including the existing level of governmental support and the potential to create significant numbers of jobs within the sector,” says the organisation.

Digital Jobs Africa will seize upon the opportunity created by the youth bulge in Africa and the phenomenal rise of the ICT sector to create sustainable job opportunities for African youth. Through a series of complimentary activities that include catalysing the impact sourcing sector, skills training, and growth of other digital job opportunities, the initiative will aim to meet its goal of impacting one million people.

Africa has the youngest population in the world today, with the number of people between age 15 and 24 expected to double to 400-million by 2045. Sixty percent of young people in Africa are unemployed, and youth unemployment rates are double those of adult unemployment in most African countries.

“Digital Jobs Africa recognizes the enormous talent pool of young people in Africa who lack access to quality sustainable employment opportunities – and seeks to catalyse opportunities to close that gap,” said Rodin. “Innovative, energetic and better informed African youth have the potential to drive economic growth and development, and this new initiative will marry that potential with the growth of technology to increase much needed employment opportunities.”

To achieve the goal of impacting one million people, Digital Jobs Africa will bridge the gap between the supply of high potential job seekers who need both technical and soft skills to be work ready and companies seeking talent to service their expanding business needs. Digital jobs such as data entry, service centre support, online research and web design will provide youth with skills that will make them more resilient to a dynamic and uncertain labour market. Digital Jobs Africa will focus on three specific interventions:

  • Creating digital job opportunities by leveraging the rising demands from African-based companies, government, and multinationals to create employment opportunities and continuing to grow the impact sourcing sector, which is the socially responsible arm of the business process and information technology outsourcing industry that employs individuals who would not otherwise have an opportunity for sustainable employment.
  • Working with local organizations to provide skills training to young people.
  • And supporting an enabling environment for digital jobs that can be coordinated among government and businesses without the continued involvement of philanthropy.
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