Telecoms giant Orange and German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) have formed a strategic alliance to, as they put it “enhance digital employability of 20,000 young people in Africa and the Middle East”.
Orange and GIZ will establish digital hubs – known as Orange Digital Centres (ODC) – in Africa and the Middle East. These centres will offer young people training in digital technology free of charge, accelerate the creation of start-ups and support project leaders.
The ODCs will feature digital state-of-the-art equipment. Their teams will work with various stakeholders and the entrepreneurial ecosystem of each country to train young people and support them in finding jobs. The ODCs will also work with universities in the regions.
The ODC concept has already launched in Tunisia and Senegal and will soon be deployed in Morocco, Jordan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Liberia. Each ODC includes a coding school – a free access technology centre that offers training, events and support for developers, geeks and project ideas, and a FabLab Solidaire, a digital manufacturing workshop for creating and prototyping with digital equipment.
There’s also Orange Fab, a start-up accelerator, and Orange Digital Ventures Africa, a 50-million-euro investment fund that finances innovative start-ups in countries on the African continent and in the Middle East region.
Meanwhile the new Internet Society Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the internet, has issued its first set of medium and large grants to 13 projects that seek to spread the benefits of the internet around the world. A total of $300,000 in all has been disbursed.
In Africa $30,000 will go to create Wi-Fi access points and an off-the-grid Media Centre within the Mamaila Tribal Authority, South Africa, while $12,322 will go towards creating community networks for 5,000 people in three remote farming communities and awareness-raising in Madagascar. Another $30,000 will aim to generate reliable statistical data on internet use in Mali.
The Internet Society Foundation will launch its next call for grant applications in early 2020.