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Rockefeller Foundation Program to Boost Digital Jobs for Youth in Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The announcement by the Rockefeller Foundation of an initiative to create jobs in Africa focusing on the digital field has been lauded as an important strategy by Jack Leslie, chairperson of Weber Shandiwick, a leading public relations firm. “Digital holds tremendous opportunity for Africa,” Leslie said, particularly for Africa which “holds great promise”.

Leslie believes that the economies of the region are going to have to be broad-based to meet the demands of young people going into the job market, adding that the digital field – despite it being the fastest growing arena – “will not absorb them all”.

Digital Jobs Africa (DJA), which will be led from the foundation’s Nairobi office, will focus on South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco where DJA believes it will have the greatest impact because of growth in urban population.

“For the first time, a majority of people live in cities. Some of the biggest increases in urban population have been seen right here in Africa, with 85 percent  of the population expected to live in cities by 2025, ” Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said at the launch of the project at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town.

In an era where the current pace of job creation doesn’t meet the increased demand for employment among young people, economic growth initiatives like this will do much to improve the wellbeing of the continent’s youth.

“Africa’s youth population is expected to double to 400 million by 2045 and the working age population is set to exceed China and India by 2050. This combined with the growth in globalization, urbanization, digitization on the continent presents both challenges and opportunities on the continent,” Rodin said.

The goal of the DJA project is to change one million lives in seven years. The foundation, which this year celebrates 100 years of working to improve the wellbeing of humanity, will pump $97 million into the initiative.

“This investment seeks to change the lives of high-potential youth by recognizing the enormous talent of young people who lack access to quality sustainable employment opportunities,” Rodin said.


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