IBM has announced a $70 million investment in an initiative to build digital, cloud, and cognitive IT skills among youth in Africa and support the development of a twenty-first-century workforce on the continent.
The IBM Digital — Nation Africa initiative will provide a cloud-based learning platform offering free skills development programs for up to twenty-five million young people over the next five years. With the goal of raising overall digital literacy, increasing the number of developers able to tap into cognitive engines, and enabling entrepreneurs to grow businesses around new digital solutions, the platform will offer programs ranging from basic IT literacy to advanced IT skills development. In addition, advanced users will be able to explore career-oriented topics in such areas as programming, cybersecurity, data science, and agile methodologies, as well as business topics such as critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Based on Watson, IBM's cloud-based cognitive technology, the online system will be able to adapt and learn from its interactions with students, directing them to the most appropriate courses and helping IBM refine the courses offered to the needs of users. Launching the initiative from its regional offices in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, and Egypt, IBM will collaborate with the United Nations Development Program and its network of existing government partnerships to extend the program across the continent.
"IBM sees effective, high-quality IT education as a key driver of economic vitality in Africa. Through access to open standards, best practices, IBM tools, and course materials, the broad scope of this initiative will enable vital skills development," said Hamilton Ratshefola, country general manager for IBM South Africa. "In order to find solutions to Africa's challenges, industries across the spectrum need to enable the existing and future workforce to perform at the forefront of technologies such as cognitive and cloud computing. This will be the key to spurring economic growth."