Kenya: Skills initiative launched to support local software development

Kenya: Skills initiative launched to support local software development

The United States International University – Africa (USIU-Africa), in collaboration with Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, has launched Kenya’s first AppFactory at the Incubation and Innovation Centre (I2C) in Nairobi.

The partners have released a statement saying the I2C AppFactory will equip students with skills in designing, developing, implementing and managing modern software solutions.

Recruitment into the job market has been emphasised.

“The initiative will provide an experiential way of learning, encouraging students to develop new skills, attitudes and ways of thinking. In addition, it will provide access to first-grade jobs through the Microsoft Partner Network, increasing the employability of USIU-Africa students and unemployed graduates from other universities who participate in the programme,” reads an excerpt from the statement.

Software outsourced

Professor Paul T. Zeleza, Vice Chancellor of USIU-Africa, said, “Despite hundreds of students graduating in ICT, IT companies are still finding it difficult to recruit graduates who are ready to contribute as software developers, without first taking them through extensive on-the-job training.”

The Vice Chancellor additionally commented that “According to a 2016 report by Zalego, 72% of local ICT firms have had most of their software solutions developed by foreigners and not Kenyans, while only 26% have had their software products developed locally by Kenyan-based software development companies. By enhancing local employability and entrepreneurship, the AppFactory aims to change that.”

The I2C AppFactory is the 14th AppFactory to be launched in partnership with Microsoft on the continent, with others in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Mauritius, Malawi and Ethiopia.

According to Microsoft’s 4Afrika in 2017, 500 students graduated from the Africa AppFactories, with 85% securing full-time jobs within three months of graduation. Others have started their own businesses.

“Graduates from the AppFactory are highly sought-after. Virtually all of them find work – often before they even graduate,” says Lutz Ziob, Dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy. “Across Africa, AppFactory students are learning how to build digital solutions in business, finance, healthcare, education, agriculture, tourism and transportation. As they become experienced software engineers – working with modern technologies from cloud computing to secure coding, bots and data analytics – start-ups and corporates are snatching them up.”

“USIU-Africa’s mission is to promote knowledge and skills that prepare students for an increasingly technological world. The I2C AppFactory contributes to this mission – as well as to Kenya’s Vision 2030, which aims to improve the capacity of technology graduates in creating an economy fuelled by value-added goods and services,” adds Professor Valarie Palapala Adema, the Dean of School of Science and Technology.

USIU-Africa will host the AppFactory, while Microsoft will provide assistance and access to various platforms, tools and networks to successfully operate the programme. The I2C AppFactory will target final year ICT students at USIU-Africa and fresh graduates from other universities. Every six months, 30 students will become software apprentices and receive training and mentorship by senior software craftsmen.

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