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African Forum: speed up actions to foster job-relevant digital skills for African youth

Group photo taken during the closing ceremony of the Forum. Copyright: ADEA

Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth, the African Forum on Youth Skills and Enterprises in the Digital Age, which took place April 18-19 in Tunis, made a major recommendation: Ensure that Africa’s youth have the relevant, appropriate digital skills from a very early age as they prepare for the jobs of the future.

At its conclusion, African governments and key stakeholders agreed to:

  • Foster and implement appropriate policies to integrate digital skills, 21st Century Skills and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the African education and training systems,
  • Establish technological partnerships to fill the skills gap in jobs requiring advanced ICT competences such as Coding, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotics, and Cyber Security, among others.
  • Accelerate the use of ICT to offer all learners, especially girls and women, equal opportunity access to quality education.
  • Spread the culture for eLearning.
  • Promote Technical and Vocational Education and Training as an enabling pathway rather than as a sub-sector of last resort.
  • Train teachers on digital skills and 21st century skills.

Organized by the Government of Tunisia through its Ministry of Professional Training and Employment, the African Union, the Global E-Schools and Communities Initiative, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, and the United Nations’ Children Fund, strategic partners including JP.IK and the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the Forum was sponsored by ACT and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Opened at the Ramada Plaza in Tunis by Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissioner of the African Union’s department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Training of South Africa and by Faouzi Abderrahmane, Minister of Vocational Training and Employment of Tunisia, the Forum attracted approximately 200 participants from 38 countries, including 27 African countries.

Nicholas Ouma, from the African Union’s department of Human Resources, Science and Technology stressed the importance for children to acquire ICT skills at an early age to gain advantages in thinking, processing and communicating. Helping Africa’s youth be innovative will translate into critical dividends in nearly any profession, he explained. 

In their interventions, Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister for Higher Education and Training of South Africa; Faouzi Abderrahmane, Minister for Professional Training and Employment of Tunisia; Abdelhafeez Elsadig Abdelrheem, Minister for Youth of Sudan; Gaston Musemena Bongala, Minister for Primary, Secondary and Professional Education of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Abdoulkadri Tidjani ldrissa, Minister for Technical and Vocational Training of Niger; Adoum Dangaï Nokour Guet, Minister of Vocational Training and Small trades of Chad; and Ahmed Elgeushey Hassaneen, Deputy Minister for Education, Technical and Vocational Training of Egypt, reiterated their commitment to promote digital skills in their education and training systems as  envisaged in the Africa Agenda 2063 and highlighted in the Continental Technical and Vocational Education and Training  Strategy to foster youth employment, the Continental Education Strategy for Africa and the Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa.

On the way forward, Jerome Morrissey, CEO of the Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative, recommended planning for and investing in digital inclusion in all its dimensions to better address the skills gap and foster inclusive growth in Africa.

Speakers in each session emphasized the role of digital skills as the new core link between education and employment.

Odibeli Pamela Ejiro, Youth Ambassador for the Secondary Education in Africa Initiative, called on African governments to invest in digital skills to unlock youth’s potential and access to new jobs, which will further contribute to Africa’s development. She concluded,  “Let our parents and society know where we, the youth, are going”.

ADEA Acting Executive Secretary, Shem Bodo said, “Skills acquisition is vital to embrace appropriately without any shock the digital revolution, but we all, and in particular the youth, need to be first clear about our vision, before embarking on how to get there. We need to be passionate in order to be creative.”

Faouzi Abderrahmane reminded all African dignitaries and development cooperation actors to free the rural community from digital illiteracy. “Innovation and creativity are linked to ICT. Africa can succeed and be a pioneer of this digital age especially through the facilitation of intra-African partnerships and collaborations.”

Forum website: