Africa is undergoing a rapid transformation, with its digital economy showing promising growth. By 2030, AI is expected to increase Africa’s economy by $1.15 trillion based on Telecom Review Africa. As the continent embraces digital technology, it is crucial to have a workforce that is equipped with the necessary skills to drive innovation and progress.
However, according to the World Business Environment Survey (WBES), less than a third of companies surveyed in Sub-Saharan Africa offer formal training to their employees. There is a need for a workforce that is proficient in technology and can use it to create solutions that address the unique challenges faced by the continent.
The Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CFTE) recognises the importance of developing the digital workforce in Africa and recommends policymakers to take necessary initiatives to achieve this goal. CFTE believes that training programmes, collaborations, and supportive policies can go a long way in preparing the African workforce for the digital age.
Initiatives to train the digital workforce in Africa
Several initiatives have been taken to train the digital workforce in Africa. Here are some of the most noteworthy:
- Digital Skills for Africa Initiative:
This initiative was launched by Google in partnership with Ajira Digital, a Kenyan government initiative driven by the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology in 2017. It aims to provide training to young Africans on how to use digital tools and platforms to improve their employability and entrepreneurial skills.
- African Coding Network:
The African Coding Network (ACN) is a pan-African network of organisations that promote coding and other digital skills. The network provides training to young people, supports the development of coding clubs and competitions, and advocates for the inclusion of coding in school curriculums.
- Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative:
The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative is a programme that aims to empower African youth, entrepreneurs, developers, and small and medium-sized businesses through access to technology, training, and mentorship.
- Global Fintech Internship:
In 2021, CFTE created the Global Fintech Internship Experience in partnership with Chippercash, a Nigerian remittance company, to bridge the digital divide by helping students experience the global Fintech community via online live internship to obtain certain skills needed to boost their careers in the Fintech world.
Read the impact report of the Global Fintech Internship.
- The Innovator Programme in Egypt
The Central Bank of Egypt, Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI) and CFTE joined forces to help position Egypt as home to FinTech talent by launching the first cohort of the Innovator Programme on Fintech, Al, Open Banking and Digital Payments. The innovator programme aims to give a solid foundation to upskill employees in finance to bridge the knowledge gap in the industry.
Recommendations for policymakers from CFTE’s standpoint
While these initiatives are commendable, more needs to be done to develop a digital workforce in Africa. Here are some recommendations for policymakers from CFTE’s standpoint:
- Invest in digital infrastructure:
To develop a digital workforce, there is a need for digital infrastructure such as high-speed internet, affordable smartphones, and computers. Policymakers should invest in these infrastructure projects to ensure that young people in Africa have access to the tools they need to acquire digital skills.
- Develop strategy based on a skills framework:
Skills required today are different from the ones previously. CFTE developed the SHIME framework, a qualitative tool to help the industry identify key skills in finance. SHIME is an acronym comprising the five types of skills: soft skills, hard skills, industry knowledge, mindset, and experience. It can help governments, regulators and policy-makers benefit from aligning their training programmes to skills most in demand in the industry. In turn, it can ensure that the industry finds the right talents, which fuels its growth.
- Foster collaborations:
Policymakers should encourage collaborations between the private sector, academic institutions, and government agencies to create training programmes and strategic projects that are tailored to the needs of the African workforce.
- Increase funding for digital skills training:
According to an article published by Boston Consulting Group, 87% of African business leaders identify digital skills development as a priority area for future investment. Policymakers should increase funding for digital skills training programmes and provide incentives for companies to invest in the training of their employees.
- Develop policies to attract investment in the digital sector:
Policymakers should develop policies that encourage investment in the digital sector, which will create job opportunities for young Africans and provide an incentive for them to acquire digital skills.
- Incorporate digital skills in the education system:
Policymakers should incorporate digital skills into the education system, starting from junior high school. This will ensure that young people are equipped with the necessary skills and industry knowledge to thrive in a digital economy.
Africa has a great potential to grow its digital economy. To ensure its full potential, there is a need for a workforce that is skilled in digital technologies. The initiatives to train the digital workforce in Africa, as well as the recommendations provided by CFTE, can help policymakers to create policies that will equip young Africans with the necessary skills to thrive in a digital economy.
Last year, CFTE and Elevandi published a report on new skills in financial services, aiming to help governments, organisations and individuals address the current skills gap in finance and build a digital-resilient workforce in the industry. Click the button below to learn more about the best practices to build a digital workforce in today’s financial landscape.
This year, CFTE continues putting efforts into building a digital workforce at scale and enhancing financial literacy worldwide. CFTE offered the Online Certificate for Fintech in Africa to support 5000 students in Africa and professionals to grasp the opportunities in the new world of digital finance, in partnership with Elevandi and Singapore Management University.
The programme teaches about foundational knowledge in Fintech. Learners will go through the building blocks of the future of finance: Fintech, AI, Blockchain, RegTech, Payments, Open Banking and Sustainability, while learning the most important trends in the region from ecosystem players. It includes 7 Masterclasses and 6 Sessions of industry insights, launched for the Inclusive Fintech Forum (IFF) 2023. Programme will be available until December 2024.
Students in Africa can enrol in the Online Certificate for FinTech in Africa to learn Fintech for Free. Professionals may also enrol in the programme for USD 50. A portion of the contribution will go towards supporting CrossAfricaCycleOdyssey in its mission to uplift people living with disabilities.
In addition, CFTE will be holding a workshop on Building a Digital Workforce in Africa on June 21st at 12:00 pm – 13:00 pm (Kigali time) at Inclusive Fintech Forum. The workshop is designed to equip people with the skills and knowledge needed to build a digital-ready workforce for the future.