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Digital Inclusion

Podcast: Blessing Abeng on digital skills for Africa's youth

This is a special crossover podcast episode between the Connecting Africa Podcast and Africa Tech Radio.

Africa Tech Radio Host Anthony Ibe joined Connecting Africa Editor Paula Gilbert in Nairobi, Kenya, to speak to Ingressive for Good Co-Founder Blessing Abeng about digital skills development in Africa.

Abeng shared the story of how Ingressive for Good came about and the work it is doing to train young Africans in digital skills and help them find work.

"Less than three years down the line we have trained 132,000 people and placed thousands of them in jobs as well," she told the podcast.

She talked about how to grow the tech ecosystem and how to partner with global companies to push the skills agenda forward.

"Founders always think that the biggest problem that he or she has is money, but then they get the money and realize, oops I need tech talent to make this work. One of the consistent things that we have found out is it's not that people don't want to be tech talents, they just don't have the resources to invest in themselves to become the kind of tech talents that other founders or investors need," Abeng explained.

"So we decided to breach that gap and in doing that we also wanted to focus on helping the youth increase their earning power, because we know that tech pays two times to five times more than other industries," she added.

The discussion then moved to the tech skills gap when it comes to gender and how to empower more women to enter the space.

"The beautiful thing about tech is it's a leveler, so we can use tech as an opportunity and that is how we saw it. We decided we were going to launch female-focused programs and that is when we started our 1,000 Women in X Program. People would tell us that women don't apply for opportunities so we said, 'No, we are going to do this differently,' so we did and we really listened, and by listening, it helped us figure out how women want to be spoken to," Abeng explained

"Most times when you put an opportunity out there it sounds like a competition. Some people don't want competition, they just want to learn. So, we spoke to [women] and explained to them this is going to be community driven, no one is chasing you, you are only in competition with yourself," she added.

Abeng's advice for budding tech talent: "I think the hardest thing is to start, so just start. Prioritize progress over perfection," she concluded.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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