AfDB Launches Coding for Employment Centre in Covenant
The African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with technology firms Facebook, Microsoft and the Rockefeller Foundation were in Covenant University to launch an arm of the youth empowerment programme, in her quest to train and develop Africa’s youth skills to meet employer requirements.
The programme which was rolled out under the theme ‘Coding for employment,’ seeks to create 25 million jobs across Africa, to develop and launch Africa’s next generation of digitally-enabled youth.
Aside Covenant, other Nigerian academic institutions that were beneficiaries of this initiative were Ahmadu Bello University, Gombe State University and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Speaking during the event, the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant, Professor AAA. Atayero, acknowledged the continuous encouragement and support of the Chairman, Board of Regents of the University, Dr. David O. Oyedepo. He also acknowledged the motherly support of the Vice-President, Education, Living Faith Church Worldwide, Pastor (Mrs.) Faith Oyedepo.
The Vice-Chancellor pointed out that the vison of Covenant was to raise a new generation of leaders in all spheres of human endeavour and as such, the University was delighted to be a part of the ‘Coding for Employment’ project, which fitted perfectly into the long-term vision of the institution.
Professor Atayero described the coding for employment project as a very laudable initiative, especially as it relates to its emphasis on the female gender. He pointed out the need to reduce the current gender disparity in STEM education, especially in developing countries, and the increasing digital gender divide in the face of a growing digital economy by direct efforts like the AfDB project.
According to him, with initiatives like this that supported youth development, many young Africans would have equal opportunities to solve social problems in the competitive global world.
“I want to once again assure the representatives of the AfDB, that Covenant is very committed to this commendable project,” he added.
In her opening remarks at the event, the representative of AfDB, Mrs. Uyoyo Edosio, stated that the initiative would provide the youth, especially undergraduates who would face the labour market after graduation, with opportunities and career options. She said that with a focus on capacity building, the programme anticipated that 75 percent of the trainees would be linked with employment opportunities, while 25 percent would become entrepreneurs.
She stated that the partnership launched in February 2018, would see 130 Centres of Excellence established across the continent with the goal to upscale African talents with digital and coding skills, preparing them for the demand-driven digital world.
In line with the partnership in the project, the bank would supply educators and IT experts, Facebook and Microsoft philanthropies would design the curriculum, while the Rockefeller Foundation would support the vision with a $2 million trust fund to equip and operationalise the plan.
She noted that the initiative had recorded some encouraging results so far: “More young people and students across Africa and in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous economy, are becoming computer literate, with coding and digital skills training under the Coding for Employment programme of the African Development Bank.”
She explained that the Bank had identified leading academic institutions as designated Centres of Excellence in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire. These countries were scheduled to run the pilot phase of the digital skills training programme.
Earlier in her opening remarks, the Director, International Office and Linkages, Dr. Ada Sonia Peter, appreciated the efforts of the AfDB and partners in bringing much needed hope and help to unemployed youths across Africa, especially to female youths. She also expressed her appreciation that Covenant was one of the institutions identified by the bank as a centre of excellence for the execution of the noble project.
There was a robust panel discussion session during the event, moderated by Dr. Ada Peter. The discussion, which focused on Information and Communication Technology challenges and possible solutions, featured an array of panelists that included the Vice-Chancellor, Covenant, Professor AAA. Atayero; Programme Manager, Coding for Employment, AfDB, Mrs. Edosio Uyoyo; Programmes and Commercial Director, Decagon Institute, Mrs. Nkem Alozie; Partner, Technology Lead, Microsoft, Mrs. Olatomiwa Williams; Expansion Strategy Manager, Andela, Miss Jackie Ugokwe; and Odunayo Eweniyi, Chief Operating Officer of Piggybank.ng.
Also at the event were members of the Covenant Management, Principal Officers and other senior officers of the University.