Over the past few months, hundreds of young business owners brimming with hope and optimism for how technology can transform their businesses have been joining Google Digital Skills Campaigns led by the African Union Youth Envoy. They are part of Africa’s growing youth population that want to position themselves to benefit from Africa’s digital revolution and establish a strong digital economy with a potential to be worth $180 billion by 2025. Yet, this necessitates a large investment in digital expertise.
The African Union Commission has been collaborating with companies such as Google to support youth-led small and medium businesses and startups. The Digital Skills Campaign is part of the larger African Union’s Digital Transformation campaign, which seeks to reach 100, 000 young people with digital skills for the creation of jobs by 2024 through a country acceleration strategy across the African continent.
The first event launched on March 23, 2023, when the Office of Youth Envoy collaborated with Google and Creative Hub Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with more than 45 young business owners, managers, entrepreneurs, and students from Burundi, Kenya, the USA, and Ethiopia. The AU Special Advisor on education, science, technology and innovation to the AUC Chairperson, Gaokgakala Daniel, Senior Advisor on ICT and digital transformation to the AUC’s Deputy Chairperson, Amb. Diaby Moustapha and the AUC’s Chairperson’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ms. Chido Mpemba also participated.
[photo: participants at the Google Hustle Academy training with the African Union in Madagascar]
Following the pilot launch in Ethiopia, the Office of Youth Envoy has launched the digital skills campaign in Madagascar, Ghana, and South Sudan reaching about 1000 young entrepreneurs, and students eager to broaden their knowledge and improve their digital skills.
The workshops are based on Google’s Hustle Academy training, which offers small businesses a free, virtual five-day bootcamp to equip them with the necessary skills to expand and thrive.
Ms. Mpemba, who is the initiator of the Digital Skills Campaign, shared the importance of digital skills collaboration, including with Google, for the future of work and sustainable development of Africa. “The African Union Youth Charter recognizes the importance of digital literacy and the role it plays in empowering young people to become active participants in the economy”, Ms. Mpemba said.
The World Bank notes that Africa has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, and the World Economic Forum states that only two African countries (Mauritius and South Africa) are in the top 50 countries in the world for digital readiness. The African Union Commission is demonstrating that partnerships such as these, between African governments and the private sector, can bridge the digital divide and create space for innovations that enhance the trajectory for the continent by ensuring equal access to education and information.
Mrs. Pren-Tsilya Goa-Guehe, who oversees Google’s policy engagements with the AU Commission, expressed Google’s enthusiasm in working closely with the African Union to drive robust policies that promote innovation, entrepreneurship, infrastructure development and partnership.
The African Union intends to establish Africa as a leader in the digital economy by implementing Agenda 2063 and the African Union's 2020–2030 Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa, which aim to make the continent affluent, united, and peaceful by the year 2063, including through the digital transformation of Africa. Additional Google-AU digital skills campaigns are planned for Cameroon, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, among other countries..
Authored by Chido Mpemba, African Union Youth Envoy