The International Business Machines (IBM), a renowned international ICT company has partnered with the Malawi University of Science and Technology to offer training to students and other community members so that they can embrace technology in their activities.
Speaking when he visited MUST on December 7, 2018 to sell IBM’s Digital-Nation Africa (D-NA) project, the company’s university relations and D-NA Leader for Central and West Africa, Mayowa Adeoti said the project wants to “empower Africans with digital skills and tools to help improve their day to day life and allow them access to a wider range of opportunities.
“D-NA will enable African citizens, entrepreneurs, and communities with the knowledge and tools to innovate, and design, develop and launch their own digital solutions. High quality ICT education is a key driver of economic vitality in Africa. Through access to career-oriented learning journeys, the D-NA program will enable vital skills development needed to transform a country to the next level of productivity and efficiency,” read a D-NA project brochure in part.
Through such initiatives, the D-NA programme seeks to empower Africans in digital literacy for free.
“If you are a barber for example and you want to promote your business through development of a webpage, even without any knowledge in coding and other web design principles or soft wares, under this program you will be able to do that by using templates that have already been created for people like you. At the end of the day, we want people to use and benefit from digital platforms and not necessarily to train digital platform creators, universities are doing that,” said Adeoti.
He said students have an advantage over the community members as they can be trained to teach the communities on digital platform creation and usage.
On his part, MUST Head of Computer Studies and Information Technology department, Dr Charles Fodya said under the partnership, IBM will be able to certify some of the university’s students in specific areas of competence.
“This is a big programme by a big ICT player on the international stage and as MUST we are proud to partner them. We are talking about issues of skills and knowledge transfer and exchange. This is also coming at a time when we will be implementing a similar project with the Malawi Communications and Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to train officers in telecentres across the country,” said Dr Fodya.
The meeting at MUST was attended by staff and students under the CSIT department.
The D-NA targets explorers, who are people with basic digital literacy but are keen on learning about the new emerging technologies. For this group, the programme offers introduction to emerging technologies such as Cloud, AI & Cognitive, Data Science & Analytics, IoT, Blockchain, and Security.
The D-NA also targets innovators. For them, the programme is designed to help accelerate innovation and enable ‘would be’ innovators to bring their ideas to life and for this group, the programme offers three key steps that allow users to create their own solution: Get Inspired, Design and Build.
The last target is called New Collar and is for those who want to align their skills to the requirements of the job market and seek better employment opportunities. For this team, the programme offer a closer to their dream job after following a three step journey powered by Watson: Learning, Profile and Jobs. IBM boasts that their “New Collar Advisor” tool performs skill gap analysis for users, and helps in job matching.
“The IBM Digital-Nation Africa program offers a cloud-based learning and enablement platform, providing digital competency and nurturing innovation in Africa. The platform includes Watson artificial intelligence, which communicates with the user to build a profile, gives an overview of the current job market and suggests
multiple learning paths,” adds the brochure under Key Differentiators.
“The Explorer section comes with many hours of video content divided into introduction, case studies, and additional resources that help users understand what Emerging Technologies are, why they’re important and how they can be applied across industries.
“The Innovator’s Get Inspired section provides users with ideas that inspire them to come up with their own solutions. The Design section provides users with a short version of the Design Thinking Method as a structured approach to take their idea to a prototype and Minimum Viable Product. In the Build section users can leverage Cloud and AI services to build applications such as a Chatbot.
“The New Collar offers multiple courses consisting of multimedia content, and theory on skills that are high in demand. Some courses are accompanied by a sandbox environment that allow users to experience the technology and perform exercises, while the rest come with descriptive exercises,” explains IBM.