What having the youngest  continent means to the African technology ecosystem

image credit https://gga.org/category/africa-in-fact/page/3/

Presently Africa is the youngest continent with 60% of its population under the age of 25, the average age of 19.4 years, and the world’s 15 youngest countries are all in Africa. Africa is literally the future of the world

The decrease in fertility globally but Africa still has the highest rates at double the global rate of  2.5 children over a lifetime , There are notable exceptions like Ethiopia where the rate us just about 2 children  in the lifetime of a woman . This has invariably set the stage for youth bulge across the continent.

According to the World Economic Forum by “2030 One in five people will be Africa and Africa will account for more than half (54%) of the 2.4 billion global population growth in coming decades and so we definitely Africa has an upcoming large pool of talent, larger than the United States and China.

 

An opportunity or a ticking time bomb?

Why it’s an opportunity

The opportunity to have the largest pool of talent cannot be over emphasized. There are many opportunities for the African continent to strategically use that pool of talent to grow and dare I say leap frog the problems and inefficiencies the continent encounters

Why it’s a ticking time bomb

Here is the thing, when you have a large youth population you have to provide them with employment, food security and opportunities

The International Labor Organization ILO reports a 29million unemployment rate , this aggravated in countries like South Africa who have over 30% unemployed people in the working population .Invariable a huge youth bulge without adequate jobs and food security is  a recipe for unrest, wars and at the very least mass migration .

I am deeply interestingly in how the youth bulge impacts the technology ecosystem in Africa, I theorize that, the youth bulge could impact the talent and skillset in the ecosystem in two main ways,

1.The Andela way (talent as a service?)

Andela is an American company that specializes in training software developers. The company was founded in 2014 and is based in New York City.

Their primary business model is finding Africa’s most talented engineers and developers, giving them top up training and sending them off to work as consultants   for companies that need relatively cheaper engineering talent than an organization would get in their home country across the globe.

It could be that Africa becomes the continent that provides talent either by sending it out across the pond periodically or at become the continent in which many multinationals set up an offshore remote coding/development sites like India which then  continuously build and ships to the western world.

 

2.Or are we going to have develop a booming vibrant technology ecosystem that builds solutions for the world?

This is the option I most prefer is where Africa technology ecosystems are the spaces in which the world depends on the build and export technology solutions.

This can only happen if Africa builds up an army of technically competent and business savvy youth.

The African development bank is taking preemptive action in building competent technology savvy youth through its flagship  project for Youth Project (2016-2025). This aim is to provide unemployment and under employment and support African countries in scaling up responses to youth unemployment and underemployment crisis on the continent. The strategy will focus on practical, high-impact solutions aimed at creating opportunities through education and training, transformative jobs and a business environment conducive to youth entrepreneurship..

 

The goal of the strategy is to create 25 million jobs for African youth over the next decade and to equip 50 million youth with a mix of hard and soft skills to increase their employability as well as their entrepreneurial success rate. For this purpose, the strategy emphasizes partnerships including with the private sector, scaling up of solutions that work, and sustainable results for impact.

During the first year of the JfYA strategy implementation, 1.6 million jobs were created and 652,000 people trained, the large majority of whom were women and youth (ADER 2017)

Under the “Youth for Jobs Program” there are a number of flagship programs:

-Rural Microenterprise Flagship Program Model: 54 million USD is being invested in programs provides youth with capital, skills training and mentorship to support them with launching agriculture-based micro enterprises

-The ENABLE Youth (Empowering Novel Agri-Business Led Employment) 830million USD has been pledged to helps young African men and women to incubate and scale-up their agri-business. This happening in at least 11 countries

-Agro-industrialization Pipeline Flagship Program Model: This program develops a pipeline of skilled labor for agro-industrial companies.

-Skills Enhancement Zone Flagship Program Model: This program develops a skilled workforce aligned to employer needs by creating demand-led training and job placement programs within industrial clusters.

The Rockefeller Trust Fund enhances the digital and ICT skills of youth through these two main programs. Computational Thinking Flagship Program: This program introduces digital literacy, logical thinking, and complex problem-solving curricula in secondary schools and Coding for Employment Flagship Program: This program is working to provide skilled technology graduate graduates for the growing IT sector across Africa

The Afdb project is laudable but more need to done from all other governments and agencies  to ensure the Africa’s youth bulge is an opportunity .