Cisco Networking Academy advances digital skills of Africa’s youth

The demand for digital skills within the African continent has skyrocketed over the past year. In South Africa alone, the demand for jobs and skills in the Information Technology sector are at an estimated 28% demand rate, while the supply of these skills from the South African youth is only at 7.5%.

This disparity is impacting digital transformation throughout Africa. With digital transformation already a plight pre-COVID, this intensified in 2020.

Due to the pandemic, distance education became the norm for Networking Academy students as well. Cisco made its Webex Collaboration platform available for all Networking Academy instructors and students. By using Webex, teachers have continued to deliver lectures to students virtually, so that learning never stops.  

In 2019, Cisco announced its commitment to support the digitisation of Africa’s communities, businesses, and governments through initiatives for skills and talent development, innovation and job creation. Building on that commitment, during 2020, Cisco Networking Academy has carried out several initiatives, as a result of which more than 275 thousand students and instructors acquired new digital skills:

  • Free remote instructor training programmes, which were made available across Africa. These courses included the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Cyber Operations and IT Essentials curricula. IT Essentials teaches computer hardware and software skills, whilst CCNA Cyber Operations focuses on cyber security concepts, monitoring, host-based analysis, network intrusion analysis, and security policies and procedures.
  • A partnership with the Department of Higher Education and Training to train TVET IT Computer Science Lecturers in IT Essentials (ITE) and CCNA 1. To date, the two programmes have involved more than 200 lecturers. In addition, the Networking Academy courseware has been officially integrated within the South Africa TVET curriculum and will be implemented from 2021, positively impacting an estimated 150,000 students annually.
  • A large-scale professional development initiative in Morocco for Networking Academy instructors: this program leverages the program’s “Programming Essentials in Python” course. By fall 2020, 327 instructors and 50 students had been trained by the Open EDG/Python Institute, in cooperation with Cisco Networking Academy.
  • Since 2020, Cisco Networking Academy is also offering a new course entitled DevNet Associate, which focuses on software development, offering students insights into the world of APIs (application programming interfaces) and infrastructure automation.

One graduate of the Cisco Networking Academy programme is Carol Muzanenhamo, Tshimologong, from South Africa, who had initially planned to study medicine. However, she was inspired by her brother’s interest in IT and enjoyed pursuing the how, where, when and why of the IT world. Muzanenhamo says, “As I went along with my studies, I realised there was a need to have local people who were already in the IT industry impart knowledge and help transform the youth and move them forward.” After her journey with Cisco Networking Academy, Muzanenhamo is now a Cybersecurity Tech Coach, Cisco Instructor & ICT Trainer at Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct.

“When this Cisco initiative was initially mentioned, I thought, ‘Wow, this is mind blowing’. As Africans, we need to come up with such initiatives from within our continent, initiatives that actually ensure that people are transformed in terms of how much knowledge they have,” says Muzanenhamo.

Alfie Hamid, Regional Manager, Corporate Affairs at Cisco comments: “A shift in approach is important and initiatives like Cisco’s Networking Academy help students become teachers; making it possible for more and more candidates to impart their skills and knowledge to others in their communities. With 2021 now upon us, and the pandemic continuing to accelerate digital transformation, Africa needs to ensure that the digital divide does not widen further. Education of the youth and the commitment of IT companies in advancing our continent’s IT skills will be key to achieving this.”

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