The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development is preparing to impart digital skills to over 50,000 entrepreneurs.

The initiative is a new partnership with Stanbic Kenya Foundation and Microsoft Kenya. This will be made possible through a partnership signed between the Ministry and Stanbic Kenya Foundation to enhance the employability of MSMEs and Kenyan citizens through digital upskilling.

The partnership will see private sector players address a digital skills gap within the market through the rich digital learning and skilling Initiative. The program will target individuals who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 economic decline that led to numerous job losses in the country.

Stanbic bank and Microsoft Kenya will launch the program across various counties in Kenya with support from the Ministry and its supporting state agencies. It will see a total of 1,000 government employees upskilled and seconded to the program as instructors. The program expects to place 2,000 youth into employment by the end of 2021.

Speaking during the launch of the partnership, the CS for the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Hon. Betty C. Maina said, “The digital landscape is transforming rapidly, and Kenya must adapt to the new changes to keep the citizens employable. The Kenya Government believes technology will play a key role in transforming the economy and creating employment.”

According to data from the Ministry, the global labour market will need around 150 million new tech jobs over the next five years, with many other traditional jobs becoming tech-enabled. This impact will stretch beyond the workforce, creating a systemic effect on the ability of companies, industries, and even countries to effectively respond and recover, let alone reimagine their economy in a post-pandemic world.

Speaking at the launch of the partnership, CEO for Stanbic Bank Kenya, Mr. Charles Mudiwa said, “We had set an initial target of 50,000 people in Kenya and will reach out to more in subsequent phases as we work to empower and uplift Kenyans to continue innovating themselves and to achieve their dreams.” He added that the initiative is aligned to Kenya Government’s Digital Economy Blueprint.

This digital initiative is set to be rolled out across the country in various counties with the training taking place in select institutions facilitated by the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development.

“At Microsoft, equipping citizens with adequate resources and technology so that they are able to upskill and reskill has always been at the centre of our work. Particularly in the current landscape, securing partnerships with likeminded organizations such as Stanbic Bank Foundation and the Ministry makes complete sense if we are to reach and scale for maximum impact and successfully curb the impact of the pandemic,” said Kendi Nderitu, Country Manager at Microsoft in Kenya.

The partnership serves as a demonstration of the role that private sector players can have in driving economic growth by partnering with government institutions in their efforts in building the capacity of the nation.