In Africa, the digital revolution in the working space has the potential to stimulate tremendous growth for young people continent-wide. The coming of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in particular promises a shift in skills and labour that has never been seen before. The digital transition on the continent has seen a rise in new innovative services and has redefined what empowerment looks like.
Young people all around Africa have embraced the digital economy and are showcasing their abilities and telling their stories via dynamic skills. Young Africans are familiar with the concept of productive digital skills; nonetheless, there is still a significant obstacle: a skill gap in the digital economy caused by various challenges.
In this perspective, the digital divide is the most pressing issue; as countries transition to digital economies, the workforce is becoming increasingly digital, making it harder for young people from low-income neighbourhoods to access industries. According to Dudu Mkhwanazi of Project Isizwe, a social venture that provides low-income areas with inexpensive wifi, 7.5 million low-income South Africans pay 80 times more for internet connection than middle- and upper-income residents, increasing the country’s inequalities(1).
This disparity makes it impossible to level the playing field, leading to problems like South Africa’s debilitating youth unemployment. As a result, digital literacy and closing the digital skills gap should be at the top of our respective governments’ agendas.
Digify Africa Conversations
However, all hope is not lost, as young people across Africa have demonstrated through their perseverance and gravitas that such obstacles will not deter them from accomplishing their goals. We have had the opportunity over the years to speak with some of the most active and inventive young people who are leveraging technology and digital skills to achieve and address problems in their communities:
Godirageste Mogajane is a 25-year-old who started a fast-food delivery startup based in Hammanskraal, north of Tshwane, collecting orders via WhatsApp and using electric scooters to reach out to neighbourhoods that commercial delivering companies have overlooked.
Lebo Lion is an award-winning entrepreneur and business influencer who uses marketing and digital tools to nurture and accelerate the growth of African Brands.
Nwabisa Mda, digital creator and creative strategy manager
SADC Region Digital Youth Skills
As a result of the continent’s shortage of digital skills, several organisations have begun to train young people with essential digital skills, preparing them for future employment. Muzinda Hub Training, established in 2014, is one of the few organisations in Zimbabwe, comparable to Digify Africa, that is at the forefront of empowering young people with IT programming and digital skills training.
Tanzania Youth Digital Summit (TYDS) is a program that trains young people to be digital ambassadors, social innovators, and community leaders that give entrepreneurial and digital skills training to their communities. Botswana also continues to provide possibilities for young people in the realm of information and communication technology to develop and realise their creative selves. The Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) created a digital skills project not long ago to transform Botswana’s digital economy and create job opportunities.
Digital Creative Economy
Evidently, many grassroots organisations are engaged in promoting the aim of providing digital skills to young Africans. We can’t talk about digital skills and transformation without mentioning the creative industry, now also known as the digital creative economy. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Africa’s creative digital economy encompasses music, cinema, art, fashion, cultural artefacts, applications, and games, not only generates income for artists but also adds to GDP, exports, and development results(2)
This space has provided a platform for success for many young Africans, such as Elsa Majimbo, a talented content creator from Kenya who became a social media sensation in 2020. Her story is not unique compared to the other talented young people who use social media in various creative ways to make a name for themselves. Young people in Africa now have a forum to express themselves, thanks to the digital economy. Many creatives are sharing African stories and content for African and worldwide audiences.
Creatives like Nwabisa Mda, Mashudu Modau, Ghanaian digital personality Wode Maya, and Ghanaian visual artist Prince Gyasi use digital and social media channels to showcase the continent through appealing content. African content makers must have the tools they need to convey African stories. Secondly, long-term, profitable markets for African content creators must be created to increase the demand and open up the industry to more players
The Digify Africa Youth Skills Forum 2022 promises to expand on these discussions, and we encourage you to participate. This year, we’ll look at how new and emerging technologies in the creative and cultural sectors might lead to further job possibilities.
Book your spot to join us in person or sign up for the live stream