#GES2015Kenya: IBM rolls out a $60m investment in African Skills Initiative

Third year Computer Technology student Peter Kabonyi (right) receives an IMB Academic Certificate from Dr. Attia. Source: JKUA Website

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit just ended in Nairobi Kenya. The summit brought together investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe and was opened by the Unites States of America President Barrack Obama and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta.

During the opening remarks at the GES both the presidents emphasized the importance of technology as the key enabler of African entrepreneurship.

As part of the initiative to develop the next generation of technical talent in Africa, IBM has announced an investment of $60 million over three years to expand the Africa Technical Academy and the company’s Africa University Programme to over 20 African countries. Under this investment, IT professionals across the continent are set to benefit with new skills in analytics, cloud and big data technologies which are crucial to the next phase of Africa’s economic and social development.

In Kenya – home to IBM’s Africa Research lab and a state-of-the-art Innovation Center – IBM is partnering with the Kenya Education Network (KENET) to deliver advanced hands-on certification courses to faculty and students of 50 Kenyan universities over KENET’s broadband network. The certification courses will develop and enhance job market readiness among university students by providing the technical expertise that both employers and entrepreneurs require in order to succeed in a fast paced growth market like Kenya.

“With a research laboratory, innovation centers, offices and other advanced facilities in more than 24 African countries, IBM has the highest concentration of technical talent on the African continent,”  Dr. Naguib Attia, IBM Chief Technology Officer & VP Technical Leadership MEA said.

“As the leader in science and technology in Africa, we see it as IBM’s responsibility to make a strategic investment in skills development helping to lay the foundations of the Africa of tomorrow.”

The courses are available at no cost and are facilitated by both IBM online trainers and certified faculty in the participating universities. KENET is the first sub-Saharan National Research and Education Network to enter into such an agreement with IBM that allows all connected member universities to benefit from the certification program.

“This IBM certification program will provide university graduates with critical entry-level job skills that are in high demand by employers in Kenya and Africa” said Prof Meoli Kashorda, Executive Director, Kenya Education Network. “Both the African universities and leading private sector companies that are investing on the continent stand to benefit from this program”, he added.

IBM Technical Academy runs in parallel with IBM Africa University Programme, in which 80 Universities across the continent currently participate to enhance their curriculum. These universities provide their final year students with the range of business analytics, cybersecurity, data management, cloud and mobile technology training via the technical role based model applied in the IBM Technical Academy.

Academic staff and students are supported by IBM’s team of experts, cloud-based resources and an IBM training and information portal. Course ware currently delivered in English is being expanded to French, and will later include other African languages.

“The early success of the programme is evident in the graduation numbers from the programme. When the training is offered in more than 80 Universities across Africa, we will be able to reach and offer certification to over one thousand faculty members and more than 35,000 students by 2017,” added IBM’s Dr. Attia.

Initiated in 2014, the IBM Africa Technical Academy has quickly evolved from delivering product education to a deep- tech skills development programme for technical professionals. Already rolled out 16 sessions in nine countries, the content is focused on technologies like business analytics, cyber security, data management, cloud and mobile technologies. IBM’s intensive training courses condense vast amounts of knowledge into a five-day, instructor-led courses, beginning with foundation training on terminology and technology, all the way through to tools and management in each field. The programme has already trained 1600 technical professionals so far, each in a specialist role with two primary technologies. Candidates use the training to enhance their existing technical knowledge or opt to complete an IBM Certification following the training.

To expand the impact of the programme, additional specialist roles will be added to the curriculum and the training opportunities will be stepped up to be offered quarterly, as well as extended to 12 countries by the end of 2015.

This first-of-a-kind programme takes a holistic approach, giving participants an understanding of how mobile touches on big data, social and other technologies. Participants gain a comprehensive view of the technology solutions rather than training on a single product. Business and governments have access to candidates with deeper technology skills adept at integrating old and new technologies as well as applying innovative technology solutions to real world and business problems.

The positive response to the programme from technical professional, business and academia, reflects the very real demand for technology skills of this nature. The initiative emphasizes the vital need for the urgent need to develop technology skills that align to the growing need of business and government that underpin the development of the African economy and the Africa IT workforce.


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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to

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