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DIGITAL THEME: Who’s Creating the African Bill Gates of Tomorrow?

Story from: Africa.com

Digital Nation Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa has a youthful population, with 70% of it under the age of 30. However, unemployment is high amongst the youth. For example, in South Africa alone, the region’s most advanced economy, 48% of people between the ages of 15 and 34 are unemployed. North Africa is also facing the same challenge, so how is Africa planning to address this and other challenges like climate change? Well, many, including the African Union, believe this could be done through the strengthening of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education on the continent. This will help prepare the continent’s young generation for ‘future jobs,’ and to fully leverage opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Several non-government organisations, governments, and companies are playing their part in making sure that the AU’s Agenda 2063, popularly known as ‘The Africa We Want,’ is realised by investing in STEM.

Digital Nation Africa

Digital Nation Africa

LEAP Science and Maths Schools

South Africa’s first science and maths no-fee high school to operate in the townships (underdeveloped urban areas), LEAP, aims to give young minds the academic and life skills they need to become future leaders. Founder and Executive Director, John Gilmour, first opened the LEAP Science and Maths School in the Western Cape Community of Langa in 2004. Now, LEAP has six schools in three of South Africa’s nine provinces (Western Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo).  LEAP, which is registered as a non-profit organisation, has several funding partners and also works with government.

All of its schools:

  • Require that all students study mathematics, physical science and English.
  • Have an extended school day (9 hours), Saturday classes and formal holiday programmes.
  • Have smaller classes and schools to support accountability and help build relationships.

One cannot apply to study at the LEAP Science and Maths Schools as its learners are selected for enrollment based on potential and the will to work hard towards achieving their goals. The pupils are sourced from township-based feeder schools.

The school provides high-quality education to high school pupils. It now has an average of 95% matric pass rate, and in 2016, the pass rate reached 97%. South Africa does not have enough highly-trained teachers in STEM, so LEAP has the Future Leaders Programme, which aims to enroll 10% of learners from each graduating matric class to study education at a tertiary level.

For more on the impact of the schools watch this video.

GE’s Graduate Engineering Training Program

The General Electric’s Graduate Engineering Training Program (GETP) aims to create a top quality talent pipeline which gives newly graduated engineers the opportunity to gain practical experience as they rotate through company functions. The program, which was launched in 2014, gives new engineers the opportunity to specialise in one of several disciplines, including healthcare and energy (oil and gas). During the selection of participants, GE does not only focus on the cream of the crop, but also identifies candidates who are passionate, dynamic and driven to succeed.

The program allows participants to build technical and professional skills through challenging rotational assignments, projects, and intensive technical as well as professional and leadership skills training. During the first six months of the two-year program, young engineers rotate through at least two business units in GE before settling on a specialisation.

Once a modality has been selected, GETP participants receive intensive training, with both computer-based and instructor-led training courses in the USA, China, and India. They also spend time in the field with their mentors managing real-life service activities.  The program has reached several countries on the continent including Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, and Ivory Coast.


GE Africa

Digital Nation Africa

A tech giant from the United States of America has teamed up with several partners, including United Nations Development Program, to equip 25-million people in Africa with IT skills over the next five years. At a cost of $70 million, the cloud-based learning platform aims to empower African citizens, entrepreneurs, and communities with the knowledge and tools to design, develop, and launch their own digital solutions.

Users who already have advanced IT skills will be able to explore career-oriented IT topics including programming, cybersecurity, data science, as well as important business skills like critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The program will be launched from the tech giant’s regional offices in Egypt, Kenya, Morocco and Nigeria, and South Africa.

The initiative will provide access to thousands of resources, in English including:

  • Ready-to-use mobile apps.
  • Web guides, demonstrations, interactive simulations, video series, and articles.
  • Online assessments to track the progress of individuals.
  • A volunteer program to support and promote digital literacy within their communities.
  • App Marketplace – Provision of a platform on which new applications can either be made freely available or sold.



African Girls STEM Camp

The African Girls STEM Camp is a program ran by the Nigeria-based Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women (WAAW) Foundation, to “Increase the pipeline of African women entering into science and technology fields and ensure they are engaged in technology innovation and entrepreneurship to benefit Africa.” The program is aimed at attracting more African girls between the ages of 13 and 17 from poor economic backgrounds into STEM disciplines. The first of its kind was hosted in 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria, and has since become an annual event.

The program is designed to create opportunity for secondary school girls to explore STEM as well as computer science training through technology-rich demonstrations, classroom presentations, and hands-on activities. Last year, 38 girls from government and public schools in Nigeria got a chance to build renewable energy systems such as solar and wind mills, built small generators, learnt basic computer science concepts and programming, built websites and developed apps amongst other things.

The week-long camp also included science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career exploration activities, such as panel discussions with local STEM professionals and a field trip to Technology companies. Girls from across the continent are encouraged to take part. The non-profit organisation says camps are continually growing in impact. The 2015 African Girls STEM Camp was hosted in both Kenya and Nigeria, and camps are planned for Ghana, South Africa.

For more on the work of the WAAW Foundation in Africa watch this video.

Be sure to check out: 10 Reasons Why Africa is a Source for Top Tech Talent.

Let’s Go

Originally published at Africa.com

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