Airtel partners with UNESCO for youth IT training in Gabon

Bharti Airtel has unveiled a new training programme to impart new technological skills to thousands of youth in Gabon in partnership with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The three-year initiative - dubbed ’Train My Generation: Gabon 5,000’ - is the first of its kind in which UNESCO has partnered with a private organisation in Sub-Saharan Africa. It will offer scientific and entrepreneurial training to 5,000 of people (aged 18- 35 years) and high-school teachers in Gabon - through information and communication technology (ICT).

Initially, cyber centres equipped with laptops and servers will be created in schools in Libreville, Port Gentil, Oyem, Franceville, Bitam and Lambaréné.

During the signing ceremony, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, welcomed the company’s Airtel’s gesture and highlighted the importance of private firms emulating the example in forging more partnerships to empower young people in the region.

"The African private sector is extremely dynamic and I am very proud today to sign the first UNESCO partnership with a company based in Africa," said Bokova.

Mr. Hervé Olivier Njapoum, the CEO of Airtel Gabon, reiterated Airtel’s commitment in the development of African youth, stating that the company recognises them as a critical part of the continent’s growth agenda, if well trained.

"Through this partnership, Airtel is keen to help build knowledge, taking advantage of the expertise of one of the most important bodies of the United Nations: UNESCO. In promoting technology-based innovation and knowledge through programmes, this investment is expected to enhance the Digital Gabon Plan - which aims at countrywide digital infrastructure by 2016 - and reinforce the government’s development agenda of a wide range of e-services, potentially unlocking of SMEs growth."

The Gabonese Ambassador, Gisele Marie-Hortense Ossakedjombo Ngoua Memiaghe, welcomed the partnership, citing studies that "have shown a causal link between telecommunications development and economic development."

The 5,000 young people targeted in the programme will receive basic training in ICT during the first phase of the project, which will also provide online training to one hundred science teachers in secondary school. 

Teachers will use their skills to provide online assistance to 15,000 high school students preparing for their final year examinations.

But in view of the access to the platform used to support this educational facility, the academic support should reach a far greater number of students.

Small groups of students will learn how to develop mobile applications, manage cyber cafes and implement cooperative service centres throughout the project.

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