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AfricaWorking initiative launched in Kenya

AfricaWorking initiative launched in Kenya.

Multinational software company Microsoft has announced that it will pool resources with six other businesses as part of a new initiative called AfricaWorking which aims to support 200,000 youth and 50,000 entrepreneurs across the continent by 2020.

The company is yet to reveal the total value of the resources that it has combined with other AfricaWorking founding companies including Barclays Africa, Emerging World, FranklinCovey, Knod, Safal Group and Syngenta.

"The initiative was officially launched yesterday at an event in Nairobi, Kenya. The beauty of AfricaWorking is that, because it is using existing resources and platforms, it can start rolling out in South Africa and Kenya immediately. Following this, it aims to be present in at least five countries by the end of its first year and across Africa by 2020. The country list will be decided by members and informed by opportunities identified in future countries," according to a statement issued by Microsoft.

AfricaWorking plans to help young people become career- and business-ready by creating a pipeline of recruitable talent for member companies.The initial platforms will leverage YouthWorks, a Microsoft entrepreneurship platform linking youth to training, mentors, small business support and access to finance, as well as an employability platform powered by Knod.

Member companies will use the platform to create their talent pipeline.

Lutz Ziob, Dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy expanded on the value of the new initiative which also looks to bring in new member companies over time.

"Most large corporations are looking at youth skills development in one form or another, because it's crucial to their business. The idea behind AfricaWorking is to bring these corporations together, align our efforts, share our learnings and build human capital on a pan-Africa scale,"

Labour growth

Ziob's sentiments are shared by Charles Reed, General Manager for Community Investment for Barclays Africa who emphasised the need to respond accordingly to a growing labour market.

"By 2045, Africa's labour market is projected to be the biggest in the world. There is a great opportunity for us to engage the youth, help them develop relevant skills and find meaningful employment opportunities. Key to this is for us to collaborate and leverage technology where it makes sense to do so."

Microsft says, based on the state of employability and entrepreneurship across Africa, there is a need for a concerted effort.

The software firm quotes a World Bank finding that youth unemployment in Africa is triple the global average. Under 25s represent 60% of Africa's unemployed and 72% of youth live on less than US$2 a day according to the research.

Mckinsey predicts that by 2020 only 8% of Africa's population is expected to attain a tertiary degree, 40% secondary education and 52% primary education.

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