IBM. Picture:  BLOOMBERG/DAVID PAUL MORRIS
IBM. Picture: BLOOMBERG/DAVID PAUL MORRIS

IBM is ramping up its digital-skills training programme to accommodate as many as 25-million Africans in the next five years, looking toward building a future workforce on the continent.

The US tech giant plans to make an initial investment of R945m to roll out the training initiative in SA. Other countries set to benefit in this programme include Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, enabling the expansion of the project across the continent.

"Africa will have the largest workforce by 2040 and IBM wants to lay the foundation blocks to build a digital workforce," Juan Pablo Napoli, head of IBM Skills Academy, said by phone from Dubai. "We will be providing a free cloud-based learning platform able to train people from basic computer skills to high-end app development."

The move could help to bring and keep digital jobs in Africa instead of losing them to India, said Hamilton Ratshefola, IBM’s country manager for SA. As many as 50,000 such jobs were currently farmed out from Africa, predominantly to India, Ratshefola said.

"If the programme is implemented successfully over the five-year period all these jobs can be moved to Africa, where people will be equipped with the right set of skills," he said.

The company has partnered with the UN in extending the initiative throughout Africa. IBM is also talking to a number of other potential partners, including mobile-phone companies, to further scale the programme, Ratshefola said. In SA, IBM already was working with phone carrier Vodacom Group, he said.

Bloomberg

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