“The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted Africa socio-economically, leading to unemployment increases and loss of income. However, it has also demonstrated the growing importance of digital technology to respond effectively to crises and plan for recovery, particularly in the areas of education and job skills.”
It is against this backdrop that the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ), in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as Smart Africa, announced the launch of atingi, in order to support post-COVID recovery. "This free digital learning platform designed and developed by the BMZ, is at the forefront of this approach to harness digital technology for the benefit of African job seekers," said GIZ in a statement. And added: "In the context of recovery, new learning formats have the potential to accelerate the continent's digital transformation and create sustainable and resilient digital jobs in Africa.
atingi, which means "achievement " in Esperanto, strives to improve the employability of young people through modern digital learning tools. BMZ, together with an extensive network of strategic cooperation partners from politics, business, science and civil society, localizes educational content according to the needs of African audiences and makes it available, free of charge, via the atingi platform. The educational content is developed locally with the aim of improving vocational training and employability for the jobs of the future. The content is also available in several languages (German, French, English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish). This ensures that the learning material is easy to use and is aimed at training African jobseekers for the professions of the future in their home countries.
“Youth are the backbone of Africa's future human capital and a key driver of the continent's development. Each country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sustainability of its economic and social recovery, and the achievement of its long-term development goals will depend on the labor force, knowledge, and expertise of skilled and healthy young people. And this is where we believe atingi can make a tangible contribution,” says Professor Dominic ORR, team leader at atingi. “Now, more than ever, it is crucial to invest in youth employment and digital skills development to accelerate and leverage Africa's digital transformation.”
Up to 400 million people face a decline or total income loss due to the pandemic
In 2020, McKinsey estimated that up to 400 million people in Africa would face a drop in income or a complete loss of job opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the current forecast of the third and fourth waves of impact of this pandemic in countries around the world, it is difficult to determine how many more people in Africa will face unemployment in 2021.
According to a World Bank study earlier this year, many Africans have simply stopped working because of COVID-19. The study indicates that 45 percent of Nigerians had stopped working altogether, as of June 2020, as had 17 percent of Ugandans, eight percent of Ethiopians and six percent of Malawians. Not surprisingly, it also notes that informal jobs in urban areas, which account for about 80 percent of workers in Africa, have been hardest hit - and that these types of jobs have disappeared more in urban than in rural areas. As for challenges to gender equality in the workplace, the World Bank notes that more women than men have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, exacerbating the already wide gender gap in employment.