Skills report says IT Skills gap between Kenya and Uganda to widen

By 2022, the value of Kenya’s and Uganda’s ICT sector is projected to be US$1.7 billion and US$1.33 billion, respectively.

The 4th edition of Nairobi Tech Week (NTW2019), has launched the IT Skills Gap Report. The report entitled The Development of IT Skills and Jobs in Kenya and Uganda, provides insights and recommendations on what Kenya and Uganda need to do in order fully benefit from digitalisation.

The Report which is a collaboration between Mercy Corps and Moringa School, explores the sources, nature and size of the existing IT skills gap in Kenya and Uganda. The importance of the Report is compounded by the well-documented growth of and joblessness within Africa’s youth population.

Stacey Ondimu, Country Director Moringa School noted, “Providing our youth with the right skills, will help us address one of the key barriers to the growth of Africa’s tech sector. The Report should help IT professionals understand trends in skills demand, and employers understand and appreciate tech’s role in their businesses.”

The Report examines existing IT skills amongst IT professionals and compares them to the skills demanded by local and international employers, now and in the future. It is based on interviews with employers, educators, IT professionals, and entrepreneurs, and incorporates market forecasting and supporting desk top research.

By 2022, the value of Kenya’s and Uganda’s ICT sector is projected to be US$1.7 billion and US$1.33 billion, respectively.  Though digital jobs have the potential to create significant opportunities in Kenya and Uganda, there is a shortage of IT professionals, which is expected to grow.

By 2022, the value of Kenya’s and Uganda’s ICT sector is projected to be US$1.7 billion and US$1.33 billion, respectively- The Exchange
Jussi Hinkkanen, CEO, Fuzu with Victoria Mukami, Senior Lecturer, Africa Nazarene University and Doris Chelangat Muigei, Head of Business and Partnerships, Shortlist at the launch of the IT Skills Gap Report

In Kenya, analysis of advertised jobs reveals developers to be in highest demand. More than 50% of postings seek mid-level applicants with 2 – 5 years’ experience; only 2% seek entry level candidates. In Uganda, almost half of IT-related job postings were for administrative IT roles. Just 13% were for developers.  Kenya’s IT sector is more advanced and the current Ugandan policy and regulatory environment deters investment.

All stakeholders who participated in the report agreed that the current formal educational system is a major contributing factor. In Kenya, 40% of survey respondents resort to teaching themselves, while many Ugandans take online IT courses offered by international training and certification providers to increase their chances of employment.

All Ugandan employers who were interviewed mentioned Ugandan graduates not only lack hard skills, but also the soft skills needed for effective service delivery.

Interviews also suggest that many employers still do not fully understand what IT entails, and by extension, businesses often do not know who to hire, the skills needed, and how to deploy them effectively. In Kenya, the number of IT professionals in employment will grow to 95,000 in 2022 from 57,000 in 2017. In Uganda, over the same period, these figures will grow from 28,500 to 43,400.

In 2022, it is expected 17,671 higher education students will graduate with IT qualifications in Kenya and 3,222 students in Uganda. These numbers will not address our IT skills gap.

Gituku Ngene of Mercy Corps says, “We think the Report helps both universities and specialist IT schools in Kenya and Uganda understand what they need to do, to address the needs of the private sector. If they adapt curricula to reflect industry needs, add the practical application of theoretical concepts and mix in soft skills, they are well on their way to equipping our youth to fully participate in the fourth industrial revolution.”

Read also: Challenge: Kenya’s smartest ICT students heading to South Africa

Why five Kenyan women in Tech bagged $10,000 dollars

Five Women in tech led companies have bagged Sh1 million ($10,000) each in seed funding courtesy of the Standard Chartered, @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University.

The five teams were selected from a pull of the top 10 teams previously shortlisted and were being incubated at @iBizAfrica-Strathmore University for 6 months where they were offered coaching, mentoring and business management skills to grow their businesses to the next level.

The Exchange sought to find out the reason these five women were picked for the funding.

Among the factors that were considered to select the five winners of this year’s Standard Chartered Women in Technology Incubator 2019 the judges looked at the firms with at least 3 people with demonstrated capacity to execute: clearly defined roles, balanced skill set team lead, business development, product development and marketing. This shows that the firm is in a position to sustain itself in all aspects necessary for growing their portfolios. Firms needed to demonstrate that they were in a position to run their affairs in a well organised manner in a bid to grow.

The judges also set out to look if the winning firms were solving any problem. The firms were expected top therefore demonstrate their relevance by coming in to solve that the society is grappling with. They were also expected to offer solutions that are fit and innovative. The busionesses were expected to prove that they were leveraging on technology and prove that the solution offered was a new technology or a different way of doing things in the market.

Businesses needed to demonstrate that their target market was well described as well as project how big the market opportunity is. Their business models were also looked at. Here, the judges were looking to see if the model is sustainable and scalable.

They were also tasked with a job to prove that in deed their businesses were highly relevant for Kenya in terms of social impact.

The five winning companies for 2019 are:

  1. Abantu (Range) -A startup that focuses on the implementation of unique and innovative technology-based solutions to problems that they are passionate about solving.
  2. Bumpy Maternity Wear – A fashion enterprise established in 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya with an aim of supplying measure to wear clothes for middle class working expectant mums.
  3. Dermi Joy skincare – A local skincare brand that manufactures all natural cosmetics.
  4. Nature’s Bowl enterprise – offers nutritious composite flours that are used to make meals for children and the whole family.
  5. Lugha Ishara community-based organization – A community-based organization with a mission of achieving the transformational development of deaf children through technology-based innovations

The awardees will be supported with extended mentoring and milestone-based disbursement of the winnings for a period of 9 months.

According to the Director @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University Dr. Joseph Sevilla, it was a tough choice selecting the winners from the top 10 pull of very talented young people with brilliant ideas.

“These five teams have shown us dedication, willing to work and just like last year’s winners we are hopeful to see them succeed beyond this program and expand their businesses to grow beyond the Kenyan market.” He said.

Strathmore University Vice Chancellor Designate, DR. Vincent Ogutu congratulated the winning teams and added “To innovate you have to be playful, experimental and be a person who never takes no for an answer. These are the qualities that the top entrepreneurs showcased”.

Speaking at the event Kariuki Ngari, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya mentioned that in our country, SMEs contribute the biggest share to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and represent more than 75% of our working population.

“I would like to appreciate all the Women in Tech participants for being the crème of more than 170 enterprises that applied to this programme. Irrespective of the final outcome, remember that in your own right, you are positively transforming our country’s economy and creating more job opportunities. Just like the Bank, you are striving to be a force for good, promoting sustainable economic and social development in the markets and communities where we operate,” he added.

“We have seen the tremendous transformation the mentoring and injection of seed capital can do for women running start-ups in Kenya. We are hopeful that this year we can show more support to the groups that have applied. We look forward to announcing the shortlisted applicants in the next few weeks,” said Dr. Sevilla.

The Women in Tech is an initiative targeting women led start-ups leveraging on technology as a key drive to innovation in business. Launched in 2017 the program supports female-led entrepreneurial teams by providing them with training, mentorship and seed funding.

Last year finalists Mzurii, Africa Solutions, Nekkta, Maziwa Plus, Avopower, HeriOnline, Zydii, ZOA, Beta Art, Catapult Studios and Bismart each walked away with one million shillings in funding for their businesses and have since shown success and growth in their businesses.

The launch of the programme in Kenya follows a successful rollout of a similar initiative in USA by Standard Chartered.  The Bank first launched the programme to support women in technology in 2014 at the City College of New York where it created the Women Entrepreneurs Resource Center. The US program includes a dedicated workspace, mentorship, coursework and access to an extensive network designed to support entrepreneurs navigating the challenges of starting a business.

Also Read: Stage set for the ‘Women in Tech’ programme

MIT, Liquid Telecom partner for Inclusive Innovation Challenge

The IIC will award a total of USD1.6 million this year —including USD250,000 to each of the four winning organisations.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) has selected Liquid Telecom as its official partner for the 2019 Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) in Africa.

Since 2016, MIT’s Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) has challenged entrepreneurs around the world to re-invent the way technology innovation is harnessed.

This year the challenge will take place on five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the US and Canada.

Recruiting African entrepreneurs and innovators

Liquid Telecom will serve as the IIC’s outreach partner for Africa, where it will play an important role in recruiting African entrepreneurs and innovators to participate in the challenge.

The 2019 IIC has four categories focused on creating solutions to help people prosper in the era of automation.

These are technology access, financial inclusion, skills development and opportunity matching, and income growth and job creation.

Through its Innovation Partnership initiative, Liquid Telecom will be encouraging African based start-ups, innovators and technology companies to take part in the various challenges.

Using digital technology across Africa

The IIC will award a total of USD1.6 million this year —including USD250,000 to each of the four winning organisations.

Liquid Telecom is looking forward to working with MIT on delivering the IIC in Africa as it is aligned with our mission to support innovation, using digital technology, across the continent. As an African company, greater inclusion in both the creation and application of technology is fundamental to Liquid Telecom’s DNA. We are happy to help IIC reach more entrepreneurs and innovators across the continent,” said Liquid Telecom’s Group Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Ben Roberts. “

IIC Executive Producer, Devin Cook sees a “revolution afoot” to create high-tech jobs and skills training that bring people more fully into the digital age. “Our vision is an economy that works for all,” she said.

The future of work

To achieve this, the IIC serves as a catalyst to “accelerate entrepreneurs who are already making our vision a reality.”

In addition, the challenge wants “to drive a solutions-oriented conversation about the future of work.”

Registration is open now and the deadline for submissions is May 9. Regional finalists will be announced 23 July and winners will be recognised at regional celebrations. The challenge will culminate with a Global Grand Prize Gala at MIT on 21 November 2019.

Competition winners and awards

Since 2016, 3,000 organisations have registered for the IIC from more than 100 nations. It has worked with more than 100 Global Outreach Partners, 500 judges, and drawn 3,300 event attendees.

There were 100 winners in last year’s competition, awarded a total of USD3.5 million, which developed solutions ranging from agricultural climate apps for African farmers to training courses for US healthcare workers and coding boot camps in India and the Middle East.

“We believe that inclusive innovation – the use of technology to generate increased economic opportunity for moderate and low-income earners – is imperative with a tight deadline,” said IDE Director, Erik Brynjolfsson.

“The question we should be asking isn’t ‘what is technology going to do to our economy and society,’ but rather, ‘what will we do with technology’?”

This year’s challenge details are available here.

MIT says it is awarding the USD1.6 million to organizations “revolutionizing the future of work”.

Liquid Telecom is also in a partnership to reduce air pollution deaths in Kenya, getting 250,000 refugees to be treated over the internet and in IoT to increase Kenya’s fish production.

Nokia to upgrade key East African fiber network

Liquid Telecom selects Nokia to deploy multiple 100G DWDM/OTN channel network in East Africa for expanded broadband services

Liquid Telecom Kenya, part of the leading pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, and Nokia have announced a two-year partnership to upgrade their existing fiber network in East Africa with an initial network capacity of 500G.

This will result in a faster and more reliable connection along the route from the Indian Ocean to data-centers in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and neighboring countries.

Powered by the Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS), the upgrade allows Liquid Telecom to meet the growing demand from its carrier, mobile operator and internet service provider (CSP/ISP) customers for higher-capacity inter-networking services.

The network will support high-capacity connections from the submarine landing stations in Mombasa, Kenya, to major datacenters in Nairobi, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, as well as surrounding markets. Liquid Telecom will become the first communications solutions provider to connect through their own network with nearly every country that borders Kenya whilst also providing an alternate fiber route to submarine for other landlocked countries such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and DR-Congo.

Liquid expands Microsoft Azure availability in Africa

Ben Roberts, CTO, Liquid Telecom, said, “We believe that every individual on the African continent has the right to be connected. This is the vision that has been driving our network expansion across Africa. By teaming up with Nokia, we have been able to quickly adapt to the industry’s rapid growth within the region and greater access to our high-speed fibre network and cloud services across East Africa. This comes at a time when more mobile operators are planning to increase their backbone bandwidth as they prepare for 5G which is driving the demand for high speed city to city internet links.”

The deployment began in October 2018, and is expected to provide enhanced services to thousands of corporate customers and FTTH users, and has the potential to reach over 85 million mobile subscribers across Kenya and its neighboring countries.

Daniel Jaeger, head of the Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia, said,  “As an industry-leading optical network provider, Nokia has enabled customers to maximize network capacity and efficiency while supporting the deployment of mission-critical services. With our DWDM/OTN network, Liquid Telecom can offer the high capacity and low latency needed for its customers, ensuring an excellent customer experience and ultimately connecting all of Africa to the digital world. This network will be an important, additional backbone network with Nokia technology across Africa.”

Liquid Telecom selected Nokia’s DWDM and OTN technologies for increased capacity and bandwidth, and the ability to support long distances. The Nokia solution allows Liquid Telecom to reuse its existing Nokia DWDM infrastructure, which reduces its capital expenditures.

Read also: Telkom Kenya targets Mombasa with faster internet

All-female African Coding training launches in Nigeria

The Coding for Employment programme is organised by the AfDB and Microsoft Philanthropies prioritising young women side-lined in the technology ecosystem.

Some 160 young women have begun a month-long coding class on two Nigerian campuses under a new programme to give African youth digital skills for the workforce.

The Coding for Employment programme, organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Microsoft Philanthropies, prioritises young women who typically have been sidelined in the technology ecosystem.

Level playing ground for women

At a launch event held last month academics, women leaders in technology and tech start-up founders highlighted the importance of level playing ground for women.

The launch at Covenant University was under the theme: “Think Equal, Build Smart, and Innovate for Change.

“As in every sector, the participation of women in ICT matters to ensure inclusive development. We are committed to addressing the skills gap so that women can fully access opportunities in the digital era,” Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for the Gender, Women, and Civil Society Department said.

Other high-level participants at the event included the Vice Chancellor of Covenant University – Professor Aderemi Atayero; Partner Technology Lead, Microsoft, Olatomiwa Williams, Expansion Strategy Manager, Andela(Jackie Ugokwe and Cofounder/COO, Piggyvest, Odunayo Eweniyi.

Life Skills in coding

The special all-female training kicked-off on March 11 at Covenant University and Gombe State University, the two campuses selected for the programme in its initial pilot phase.

Digital literacy, introduction to word processing and spreadsheets are some of the topics the crash course will include.

The training programme will also include a Life Skills component where notable role models in the technology and digital skills space will share their stories with the cohort and act as mentors for the students throughout the programme.

The classes will run in shift sessions to accommodate those who need flexible training times due to other commitments.

The programme is being piloted in 5 countries – Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.

Kenya’s street children can code

In November last year, the ICT AuthorityHuawei Technologies, TotoSci and E-Mentoring Africa announced a unique partnership for a new project to empower street children.

Targeting over 400 vulnerable students of Bosco School in Karen, the empowerment would be achieved through providing technology, technology skills, science education, soft skills, life skills and mentoring.

The programme was meant to inspire children into STEM careers and provide them with the skills and hardware to get relevant practical experience.

Its goal is to also help vulnerable students understand and take advantage of technology to further their studies and careers.

South Africa’s army for the fourth industrial revolution

In September last year, South Africa’s deputy minister of communications, Pinky Kekana said “deliberate and measurable targets” had to be adopted by the government to bridge the gender divide in the ICT sector.

During a symposium in Durban, the country’s deputy minister of telecommunications and postal services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that in order to derive an effective economic spin-off from the fourth industrial revolution, the country had to build a capable army.

“We realise that a capable army will not be capable enough unless there are women,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Coding to 9 million jobs for 32 million Africans

In June 2018, AfDB partnered with The Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and Facebook to launch a programme aimed at developing the next generation of young digital innovators from the continent.

The Coding for Employment Programme launched in Kigali and Rwanda aimed at training youth in demand-driven Information and Communications Technology (ICT) curriculum and matching graduates directly with ICT employers.

Overall, the Coding for Employment is expected to create over 9 million jobs and reach 32 million youth and women across Africa.

You can also read about Liquid investing in Africa’s NextGen innovators, gamers and how mobile technology enables women empowerment.

In Ethiopia, 250 female software developers will receive training and seed funding for 20 female entrepreneurs whose digital business ideas will be supported by Gebeya, a Pan-African Education Technology and Online Job Placement Company.

Gebeya and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group through the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative have signed a USD 500,000 advisory services agreement to implement the Digital Gender-Ethiopia Programme.

It aims to increase the number of female software developers.

SEACOM to directly connect Kenyan businesses through South Africa

SEACOM’s offering will deliver direct, high-speed, dedicated and secure connectivity to the Microsoft datacentres via resilient network connections from Kenya to South Africa.

Pan-African internet and connectivity service provider SEACOM will now offer direct connections from its East African network directly to public cloud networks and datacentres located South Africa.

This announcement follows the launch of Microsoft’s new enterprise-grade datacentres in South Africa based in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

SEACOM’s offering, available to business customers, will deliver direct, high-speed, dedicated and secure connectivity to the Microsoft datacentres via resilient network connections from Kenya to South Africa.

Acquisition of Fiberco’s network

SEACOM Managing Director Tonny Tugee said of this offering that the SEACOM subsea cable, which connects Kenya to South Africa, offers a fibre express route that carries Terabytes of capacity with speeds offered to business customers from as low as 50 Mbps up to 10Gbps.

“In addition to this, SEACOM’s recent acquisition of Fiberco’s network allows it to extend this capability across South Africa and into the major datacentres where the cloud providers, such as Microsoft, have a presence,” said Tugee.

Ten years ago, SEACOM brought Africa its first high-speed internet connectivity directly to Africa, opening the continent to the technological advancements enjoyed today.

In 2016, SEACOM scaled up its commitment to Africa, and now directly offers business customers solutions with high-speed, reliable internet connectivity and cloud solutions.

Through years of experience with global cloud providers as Microsoft, SEACOM has been able to provide solutions to businesses considering cloud solutions.

Data centres in South Africa

One such example is the launch of the Azure ExpressRoute offering, together with Microsoft, that allows SEACOM customers to extend their on-premises networks into the cloud without going over the public internet, which until now has only been limited to datacentres which sit outside of the African continent.

Microsoft’s recent launch of data centres in South Africa aims to accelerate the move of African businesses to the cloud and marks the first time businesses have access to datacentres, which sit on African soil.

“The opportunity for Kenya Customers and Microsoft Partners to leverage SEACOM’s ExpressRoute to connect directly and reliably to Microsoft datacentres will enable more Kenyan businesses to embrace the cloud and enhance digitisation.  We are excited about this journey that will enable all our customers in the continent by offering them cloud solutions and availing a trusted path to digital transformation,” concluded Microsoft Country Manager Sebuh Haileleul.

Seacom upgrades cable to 1.5TB

In June last year, SEACOM announced that it was raising the capacity of its marine fibre cable to 1.5 TB in an upgrade necessitated by a surge in demand for bandwidth in East Africa.

The company announced that key submarine network system from its Southern and Eastern African coastline landings into Europe would have more capacity.

SEACOM’s latest upgrade added 500G of new capacity on the system after a previous upgrade of 500G about 18 months earlier.

This further upgrade falls in line with SEACOM’s focus on driving the development of the African internet and opening the broadband tap for African service providers and business users.

SEACOM and Microsoft partnered last year in May to offer cloud services in Kenya.

You can also read about Telkom Kenya targeting Mombasa with faster internet as Liquid expands Microsoft Azure availability in Africa and MTN signing up to Liquid Telecom’s 4G roaming service.

Aga Khan University scholar appointed to major UNESCO role

Aga Khan scholar and chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology and   Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, at the Aga Khan University (AKU) East Africa appointed as UNESCO Chair on Youth Leadership in Science, Health, Gender and Education

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has appointed a director of  Aga Khan University (AKU East Africa  Prof Dr. Marleen Temmerman as its Chair on Youth Leadership in Science, Health, Gender and Education.

In her new role, Prof Temmerman is expected to empower young leaders and contribute to policies and development programmes on health and education amongst the youth in alignment with UNESCO’s priorities and to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

She will continue serving as the Chair of the Obstetrics and Gynecology and   Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, at the Aga Khan University (AKU) East Africa.

Speaking at the ceremony, Dr Evangeline Njoka, Secretary General and CEO, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO said: “The development of networks in higher education, in particular through the UNESCO Chairs as focal points for the development of training and research, brings institutions in different regions closer together, with a view to giving new impetus to higher-education establishments in developing countries. Today, the UNESCO program involves over 700 institutions in 115 countries globally.” 

The position of Chair is normally established for an initial period of four years between UNESCO and a university or any other institution of higher education to initiate programmes that advance teaching, learning and research in specific regions.

Accepting the appointment, Prof Marleen Temmerman, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University East Africa said that the youth is a key target group for UNESCO’s education programme interventions and by equipping them with the right knowledge, skills and values you the empower youth to become the new champions in their areas of interest.

“I am very humbled and honoured to be appointed the AKU- UNESCO Chair, and I am looking forward towards contributing to equitable investment in the next generation of young leaders in Africa,” said Prof Temmerman. “As an institution, Aga Khan University is well positioned to build capacity in the youth, to transfer knowledge into policy and practice, and to strengthen links between universities and other partners, in line with the SDGs.”

Lydia Mathia, Youth Advisor at the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs said: “There is a huge information gap on youth issues and it is our hope the UNESCO Chair will do lots of research on youth-related matters because the Kenyan government urgently needs this data.”

General Electric, Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi hosts cancer event

UNESCO’s goal, as outlined in its “Strategy on Education for Health and Well-Being,” is to support the contribution of national education sectors towards promoting better health and well-being for all children and young people across the globe.

Prof Temmerman is a well-recognized global leader in women, child & adolescent health. She brings academic, technical, political, governance and leadership skills to the table as well as diplomacy, advocacy, fundraising, training and clinical expertise. She has a strong track record of working with governments, multilateral organisations, academia, professional bodies, development agencies, private sector, consultancy agencies, civil society, non-governmental and faith based organisations, in a global and changing world. She has also served as a Member of Parliament in Belgium.

In addition, she is a member of the advisory group of the African First Ladies on Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer, chaired by HE the First Lady of Kenya in 2015. Apart from her role as the Director of the Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health, she is also the Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Aga Khan University Hospital.

Read also: Aga Khan Education Services: How financing education in East Africa pays