It is said that by 2035 the African continent shall be having the biggest number of workers globally. Also, it’s worth mentioning that roughly 70% of the current African population are young people aged below 30 – this proportion is postulated to grow as the years go by. What this implies is that the greatest constituent of the workforce on the continent shall be young people. This means that it’s critically important that the welfare of young be prioritized. This doesn’t only refer to their health but also to their education especially preparing them for the future by acquiring digital skills. Essentially a lot has to be done because presently youth unemployment is extremely high on the continent particularly here in Zimbabwe. Here in I touch on some of the key issues highlighted in Liquid Telecom’s report.

Opportunities For Development

The first great thing about young people on the continent is their zeal and hunger for digital knowledge. Regardless of the fact that internet connectivity is not yet widespread in Africa, there has been tremendous progress made in providing access to online platforms. Liquid Telecom is committed, along with various other players, to ensure more and more young people have access to online learning platforms. Some of the key learning areas most relevant to African challenges are artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), machine learning, cloud computing and data science. These are areas which if grasped by young people will give birth to enterprising solutions to the continent’s challenges. Startups, incubators and accelerators are actually placing an ever-increasing intent on these fields. So the growing interest amongst young people and amongst various types of facilitators in the quest to become digitally sound is a breeding ground for great future prospects.

Skills For 21st Century Africa

Last year saw the marked emergence of startups across the continent. It’s reported that roughly a combined total of USD726 million was raised by startups that came onto the scene last year. This growing interest is one of the reasons why Liquid Telecom is now heavily vested in digital skills development through partnerships with tech hubs and startups across the whole continent. They have also developed an online platform, 21CSkills, which offers accredited online courses in strategic fields such as AI and the ones I mentioned earlier. The platform was started this year and so far at least 500 young people across Africa have been enrolled. The 21CSkills platform is also fostering group learning and interactions through study groups and competitions such as DataHack4FI. The competition’s main thrust is cultivating the use of data science to come up with financial inclusion solutions to everyday challenges. This should serve as an inspiration to young people to get involved in the field of data science – it’s laden with great opportunities. Some of the courses offered on the 21CSkills platform are Introduction to Data Science, Analytics Storytelling for Impact and Developing Big Data Solutions with Azure Machine Learning.

Digital Initiatives To Watch In 2019

There are a number of digital initiatives currently underway in several countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. I’ll briefly touch on some of the initiatives that are on-going in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana.


Tertiary education curricula are now being realigned to synch with science and technology fields. This is bent on reviving local industrialization with the aim of reaching significant targets by 2030. Last year the government indicated their commitment to developing innovation hubs in 6 universities. The initiative was created with a  USD15 million investment with an objective to revamp or redo some of the archaic higher and tertiary education infrastructure. There’s of course a need for more funding in order to cover much bigger ground. Liquid Telecom is also helping out by establishing internet connectivity and access to digital skills acquirement for local tertiary institutions. Microsoft, Facebook and Google are some of the global tech titans partnering with local organizations to roll out digital skills training for a wide array of demographics.

South Africa

The government is pursuing to achieve a big industry 4.0 environment. There are plans to ensure that in the next 6 years all students will be equipped with tablets as part of wide efforts to enact widespread e-learning. There’s now also a Small Business Incubation Programme of tech hubs and incubators meant to equip SMEs with digital skills for 21st century entrepreneurship.


The government is pursuant to a digital economy through technical and vocational skills development. They are also intensifying efforts in digitization by investing in research and development (R&D) in science, technology and innovation. They are also focusing on infrastructural development in the energy and ICT sectors. The approach is holistic by incorporating both the public and private sectors.

Women In Tech

Women have been distanced from inclusion in key sectors but the tech sector holds great prospects for them. Studies have shown that companies or businesses that are gender diverse and inclusive are 15% more likely to succeed than those that aren’t. One of the ways to foster female inclusion in tech is through promoting STEM subjects in higher and tertiary education. Another key catalyst for female inclusion is getting more women involved in the investment communities. There’s also a need to support women who are daring so that they actually found their own tech startups.

Digital skills development must now be across the whole spectrum from the classroom to the career field and the market place. As many as 20 million young African are projected to join the African workforce every year for the next 30 years. This shows how important focus must be placed on nurturing tech talent amongst young people from the ground up. There’s a need for young people to have a solid background in mathematics and statistics in order to easily grasp the inner-workings of the 4th industrial revolution.