Kenya starts digital training programme to tackle unemployment

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All in a bid to tackle the acute youth unemployment problem, Kenya has started a digital skills training programme that will enable 1 million young people secure freelance online work in the next year.

According to the country’s minister for information, communication and technology, Joe Mucheru, the digital jobs initiative is aimed at boosting number to 1 million, using a partly government-funded programme called Ajira, or “employment” in Swahili.

“It is called the gig economy,” he told Reuters, without saying how much the government was funding. “Companies are actually putting work online because it is cheaper, it is efficient and it is better for them.”

The World Bank has said that Kenya has the highest rate of youth joblessness in East Africa, with 17 percent of all young people eligible for work lacking jobs. Neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda have comparable rates of 5.5 and 6.8 percent respectively.

There are now an estimated 40,000 Kenyans who have secured online work ranging from transcription services to software development on sites like Amazon’s MTURK and the Kenyan-owned KuHustle platform.

Through Ajira, Kenya’s government sends mentors across the nation to train young people, providing Internet connectivity for free on Wi-fi and an online registration platform.

The government initiative mirrors one started by Google, which has trained half a million young Africans with digital skills and aims to create 1 million web-based jobs.

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