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Bharti Airtel Limited, commonly known as Airtel — an Indian multinational telecommunications services company with its headquarters in New Delhi — has launched a training programme aimed at giving new technology skills to thousands of young people in Gabon.
The initiative, which will be run in partnership with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), is called “Train My Generation: Gabon 5 000” and will be stretched out over a period of three years.
For UNESCO, the initiative is ground-breaking. It’s the first time it has formed such a partnership with a private organisation in Sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative aims to offer a scientific and entrepreneurial training to 5 000 youths, aged between 18 to and years of age and including high school teachers through tech.
Airtel will provide US$4.3-million for the project, which will be implemented by UNESCO. The first phase of the initiative will see cyber centres equipped with laptops and servers given to schools in Oyem, Bitam, Lambaréné, Libreville, Franceville and Port Gentil.
The 5 000 young people targeted in the programme will receive basic training in ICT during the first phase of the project. The project will also provide online training to one hundred science teachers in secondary school, which will trickle down to 15 000 high school students preparing for their final examination.
At the signing ceremony in Paris, France, the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, welcomed the partnership with Airtel, stating the importance of private firms forging partnerships to empower young people in the region.
“The African Private sector is extremely dynamic and I am very proud today to sign UNESCO’s first partnership with a company based in Sub-Saharan Africa,” stated Bokova.
The CEO of Airtel Gabon, Herve Olivier Njapoum also shared his jubilation about the partnership. He reiterated his commitment in the development of African youth and, 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, mentioning studies that “have shown a causal link between telecommunications development and economic development.”
The project will also be phased out such that it enables small groups of students to learn how to develop mobile applications, manage cyber cafes and implement cooperative service centres.