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Leading from the Front: How the Internet Society’s Training Efforts Are Helping to Upskill Africa’s Future Digital Champions Thumbnail
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Infrastructure and Community Development 24 November 2020

Leading from the Front: How the Internet Society’s Training Efforts Are Helping to Upskill Africa’s Future Digital Champions

Kevin Chege
By Kevin ChegeDirector, Internet Development

Tech skills are important for digital transformation in Africa. To realize this transformation, the Internet Society is supporting work-ready digital skills development with local talent.

By 2030, over 230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will require digital skills. With the fourth industrial revolution taking shape, we are helping to build a community of digital champions in Africa who will fill the skills gap on the continent.

African governments are already banking big on the contributions that digital technologies will provide to this transformation. For example, the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy (2020-2030) wants to create a “Digital Single Market” for the continent, while national governments are increasingly embracing digitalization in several sectors of their economies.

But the continent needs the right talent for its ambitious economic agenda to succeed. Though more learners are taking interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, school curricula in Africa primarily focus on theoretical learning with scarce engagement with digital subjects. This is one of the main reasons a skills gap exists for jobs that require digital skills.

To play a role in positively changing these circumstances, the Internet Society developed the Introduction to Network Operations course, an online course which equips novice and intermediate level African engineers with the critical technical skills they need to design, deploy, and manage Africa’s ever-growing Internet.

Since 2015, more than 4,000 engineers have been trained in a moderated course format that allows them to learn both theory and hands-on skills on Internet services and networking.

Initially, the course was only offered in English. But increased demand for the course in more languages across Africa led to the Internet Society translating its content to French. This growth in demand also contributed to the Internet Society’s decision to implement a “train the trainer” format through which we selected a set of dynamic and passionate past trainees to help deliver this course and scale its ability to contribute to work-ready digital skills development.

Currently, there are 16 Network Operations course tutors in Africa who have actively led English and French training courses since 2015. They are the Internet Society’s digital champions helping others gain the skills and knowledge that they need to effectively contribute to network operations in their country.

Here are the backgrounds of just five Network Operations online course tutors  facilitating training in English and French during 2020:

Patrick Kouobou, Cameroon

Patrick Kouobou is an Information Technology Infrastructure Architect in Cameroon, working for one of the largest Internet Service Providers in the country, Orange Cameroon. At the Internet Society Cameroon Chapter, he is vice president in charge of technical issues. He is a member of the Cameroon Network Operators’ Group, a group of Internet networking professionals and enthusiasts who share knowledge, experiences, and best practices on operating Internet Protocol networks. Patrick has been engaged in the Internet Society supported Network Operations training since 2016.  The added value of the course, Patrick says, is developing the next generation of network engineers and seeing them using the skills to grow in their profession. Patrick trains in French.

Eva Yedidja, Cote D’Ivoire

Previously trained by Patrick, Eva is another trainee who became a Francophone trainer in 2018. Eva is IT Support for a project that works to digitalize all government services in Côte d’Ivoire (eGOV), led by the Société nationale de développement informatique (SNDI), the country’s national ICT development agency.

She is also the chair of the Youth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Côte d’Ivoire, a forum established as part of the national IGF in Côte d’Ivoire in 2020 to create a multistakeholder platform for an open and inclusive discussion on Internet governance issues. Eva has a strong enthusiasm for Internet governance. As an advocate for inclusive Internet governance, she campaigns for more women in the field of technology. In 2020, she joined the Internet Society’s Global Volunteer Training 2020 program. As a trainer on network operations, she is proud to see learners develop new skills and become directly involved in the development of the Internet in their countries.

Seun Ojedeji, Nigeria

Seun Ojedeji is a Network Engineer who serves as an open Internet engineering fellow with the Mozilla Foundation. Seun works on a project that aims at establishing connectivity within institutions in Ekiti State, Nigeria. He holds a degree in computer science from the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. In his career, he has taken a number professional certifications offered by Cisco, Juniper, Linux-certs, Moodle, and Microsoft. He is one of the pioneer trainers of the Internet Society’s Network Operations course and has since expanded on his portfolio to train students from different backgrounds and continents.

Bukola Oronti, Nigeria

Bukola Oronti is a Network Administrator at the University of Ibadan’s IT & Media Services Unit. Once a trainee in 2015, Bukola is a trainer who wants to see more women participate successfully in the online course. During training, she engages with trainees on social media platforms and encourages them to learn further. This technique has enabled her to build a personal connection with trainees and support them further.

Ismail Settenda, Uganda

Ismail is a Senior Network Administrator and lecturer at the Islamic University in Uganda. Before venturing into education, Ismail first worked for Internet Service Providers in Tanzania. While in Tanzania, he supported projects that focused on launching and deploying Internet Exchange Points within the country. Also, a pioneer trainer, Ismail learned to deliver the Network Operations training during face-to-face meetings before adapting to deliver it online. Ismail says the training are improving the livelihoods of trainees as it helps them gain skills that enable them to be better professionals.

2020 has seen the Introduction to Network Operations course reach new audiences. The Mozambique National Research and Education Network (MoRENet) and the Somalia Network Operator’s Group using the course to train their respective communities. This will bring the total trainees reached in 2020 to close to 700 in both English and French in Africa and a further 200 from the Asia Pacific region. Work is ongoing to refine the course to better suit the needs of Internet professionals. In 2021, a refined course will be available for the global Internet community.

Join your local Internet Society Chapter or become an Internet Society member to receive more updates about these courses and other opportunities. Visit www.internetsociety.org/learning or email [email protected] for more.


Image by NESA by Makers via Unsplash

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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