The Kenyan government through the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development is gearing up to impart digital skills to over 50,000 entrepreneurs in a new partnership with Stanbic Kenya Foundation and Microsoft Kenya. This will be made possible through a partnership signed between the Ministry and Stanbic Kenya Foundation to enhance the employability of MSMEs and Kenyan citizens through digital upskilling.
The partnership will see private sector players address a digital skills gap within the market through the rich digital learning and skilling Initiative. The programme will target individuals who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 economic downturn that led to numerous job losses in the country. Stanbic bank and Microsoft Kenya will roll out the programme across the various counties in Kenya with support from the Ministry and its supporting state agencies that will see a total of 1,000 government employees upskilled and seconded to the program as instructors. The program expects to place 2,000 youth into employment by the end of 2021.
(TOP: From left to right – Lorna Kanyuga, Philanthropies Lead, Microsoft Kenya, gives a demonstration on the Digital Skills Initiative to CS for the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Betty C. Maina, Microsoft Kenya Country Manager, Kendi Nderitu, the Stanbic Bank Kenya CEO Charles Mudiwa and Head of Foundation at Stanbic Kenya, Pauline Mbayah).
Speaking during the launch of the partnership, the CS for the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Betty C. Maina said: “The digital landscape is transforming rapidly, and Kenya must adapt to the new changes to keep the citizens employable. The Kenya Government believes technology will play a key role in transforming the economy and creating employment. In this regard, we welcome the private sector in supporting the government’s efforts to advance our digital strategy, particularly with regards to Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development. This partnership between the Ministry, Stanbic Bank Kenya and Microsoft will go along in enhancing the government’s investments in the capacity building and adoption of digital technologies which will give the country a competitive advantage.” The Ministry is open to working with the private sector in improving the trading infrastructure, close the growing skills gap and increase opportunities that contribute to development.
The global labour market will need around 150 million new tech jobs over the next five years, with many other traditional jobs becoming tech-enabled. Collective action must be taken right away to stem the employment impacts of the pandemic or further social and economic disparity, coupled with an ever-widened skilling gap will be experienced. This impact will stretch beyond the workforce, creating a systemic effect on the ability of companies, industries, and even countries to effectively respond and recover, let alone reimagine their economy in a post-pandemic world.
Speaking at the launch of the partnership, the Stanbic Bank Kenya CEO Charles Mudiwa said: “We had set an initial target of 50,000 people in Kenya and will reach out to more in subsequent phases as we work to empower and uplift Kenyans to continue innovating themselves and to achieve their dreams.” He added that the initiative is aligned to Kenya Government’s Digital Economy Blueprint.
In the advent of COVID-19, several institutions and organizations are changing their business models and turning to digital platforms to stay connected with their customers and other key stakeholders. COVID-19 has also led to job losses and the need for people to re-toll. The digital initiative is set to be rolled out across the country in various counties with the training taking place in select institutions facilitated by the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development.
“At Microsoft, equipping citizens with adequate resources and technology so that they are able to upskill and reskill has always been at the centre of our work. Particularly in the current landscape, securing partnerships with likeminded organisations such as Stanbic Bank Foundation and the Ministry makes complete sense if we are to reach and scale for maximum impact and successfully curb the impact of the pandemic. Addressing the growing skills gap within Kenya through both short- and longer-term initiatives such as this will continue ensuring that youth within the region are able to gain employment and address socio-economic issues at a grassroot level,” says Kendi Nderitu, Country Manager at Microsoft in Kenya.
Kenya, like many other African economies, will experience a surge in digital skills in the near future. With the growing youth population, governments are turning towards private sector players to support in building their capacity and contributing towards helping the economy recover from the impact caused by the pandemic.
The Stanbic Kenya Foundation Chair, Ms. Ory A Okolloh noted that, “There is a great need to build the capacity of Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises through training, coaching, and mentorship to enhance their survival rate, grow to large enterprises and to be more competitive. There is a great need for technical and soft skills development.”
The partnership serves as a demonstration of the role that private sector players can have in driving economic growth by partnering with government institutions in their efforts in building the capacity of the nation.