PANELLISTS at a World Bank round table on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education have advocated the scale up of opportunities for African youth to build their capacity in that area.
They said it was through this that African youth could be prepared and equipped with the right skills and mindset to survive in the technology driven world of work and find digital solutions to problems on the continent.
The panellists included Andry Ravololonjatovo of CoderBus/STEM4good initiative in Madagascar; Dr Sidy Ndao, Founder, Pan African Robotics Competition, Senegal and Ms Nekesa Were, Managing Director, iHub, Kenya.
Others were Victor Adadjie, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, e-Transform Project (Ghana); Diarietou Gaye, Director, Strategy and operations, World Bank Africa and Josberts Kwakye, Ministry of Education, Ghana.
The Youth Transforming Africa roundtable held via video conference and monitored at the World Bank Country Office in Accra, was part of this year’s World Youth Skills Day, marked on July 15.
The discussion was focused on the theme “Preparing young Africans for the future of work by developing their interest in STEM” with the aim of increasing awareness and interest on STEM-related activities within the continent.
It featured the Robotic Team from Mamfe Methodist Girls Senior High School, winners of the 2019 World Robofest trophy at Michigan in the United States of America.
Setting the ball rolling, Ms Gaye said World Bank STEM had become important because there were about 11million African youth who entered the world of work every year without strong digital competence.
She said, the World Bank, as part of its human resource development on the continent, facilitated interventions to adequately prepare the youth for the future.
For Dr Ndao, there were many opportunities that could be grabbed by African youth in digital era of work, if they were skilled in coding and programming adding that youth should be encouraged to develop interest in that area.
Mr Ravololonjatovo, sharing the Madagascar experience, said through the CoderBus initiative, youth who lacked access to ICT facilities to learn STEM were being assisted, so they were not left behind in the digital era.
In the projection of Ms Were, the future world of work would change because of Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations and would require workforce that could bring special skills aboard.
For her part, Ms Kwakye said it was in recognition of the importance of STEM that the government had put in place measures including the introduction of STEM education at the basic level and building of STEM Centres nationwide.
She said the government would continue to enhance STEM education.
On the World Bank e-Transform project, Mr Adadjie said the bank had so far committed $3.1 million to digital entrepreneurship and skills programmes with more than 800 youth trained in mobile application ventures, since last year.
He called on African countries to grab every opportunity to build youth capacity.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR AND DOROTHY BROCKE