31 October 2023 Partnership to boost youth skills development and digital equity in Africa.

Digital transformation of our world has initiated a critical juncture of sorts. It is a potentially divisive space where immersion into or exclusion from the digital ecosystem leads to entirely different outcomes – that of poverty or prosperity.

More than half of African youth – over 200 million people – are born into poverty, growing up in communities that visibly offer little hope. CEO of Non-Profit Organization, gold Youth Development Agency (gold-youth), Susannah Farr, adds, “Most of these young people lack positive role-models and don’t believe in their purpose, potential or equal value to others. If this problem is not solved, the following symptoms will continue to worsen 1) unemployment and unemployability; 2) unbroken cycles of poverty leading to youth anarchy and lack of citizen agency; and 3) rising risk behaviours leading to an unsustainable health and education burden.”

“The gold-youth “North Star” goal is to facilitate the development of 10 million young African leaders by 2032, in 38 initial countries, with character and integrity to mobilize their generation to reach their full potential. This requires us to reimagine which network of actors need to come together to solve this problem and what our part is in ensuring that such a network thrives via investment in the infrastructure that supports the process, and the relationships that hold the system together. Our goal inspires our culture, informs our direction, and defines our partnerships – scaling up existing impact in youth social behaviour change, education, and job creation. To achieve our audacious goal through digital enablement; digital inequity is our biggest barrier”.

With digital aptitude now a vital aspect of growth and expansion of the gold Youth Peer Education Model, cross-sector collaboration is needed to advance equity. HP Inc., together with gold-youth, is endeavouring to support this bold journey towards scale up of the gold Model in Africa, and in doing so, boost youth skills development with a partnership aimed at facilitating digital enablement in five African countries where gold-youth is at the forefront of youth-led change. 

Lead Facilitator Intern at gold-youth, 26-year-old, Vusumuzi Mpofu, feels that there is an unfair distribution of access to devices and internet, creating digital exclusion, “It is widening the gap between those who have and those who do not. The whole world is moving towards digital inclusion and moving towards digital productivity.

Vusumuzi believes that when someone is excluded, they are left behind and cannot access online resources for skills development and move into the fourth industrial revolution, “This is disheartening and a disservice to young people who do not have access to computers and internet in under resourced communities. Young people in Africa are the future and they have bright ideas, knowledge, and skills to positively contribute to society and if excluded, this energy and zeal they possess tends to be directed towards negative actions and activities, such as substance abuse and crime.”

The collaboration between HP Inc. and gold-youth is founded on a shared vision to see millions of youth and young women living purpose-filled lives, connected to their peers, with the agency and skills to collaborate in solving their own problems, ground up. 

To enable and quality assure multi-country adoption (at reduced cost and increased up-take) HP Inc. is supporting gold-youth to strengthen technology enablers that focus on micro impact that can be delivered at mega scale. These involve: 1) Digital transformation of the gold Model’s tools, processes, content, data collection and evaluation system, into an Agile African engine, available in a blended format for use via an online and off-line platform, 2) The creation of tech-enabled Multifunctional Digital Enablement Centres contributing to the realization of gold-youth’s use of the digital platform for blended delivery of training, mentorship, monitoring and evaluation, and 3) integration of HP LIFE business-skill courses into the gold Youth Peer Education Model. HP LIFE is a program of the HP Foundation. 

The first grassroots digital enablement centre was launched at gold-youth’s Kraaifontein site in Cape Town, South Africa this year, and pilot centres scheduled to follow in 2024 include those in Burera and Kigali in Rwanda; Chingola in Zambia; Bulawayo in Zimbabwe; Molepolole in Botswana; Masoyi and Paarl in South Africa.

Jacqui Latimer, Head of IST at gold-youth, says: “We are very excited to partner with HP Inc. to realise our vision of digital inclusion and access. We want young people to have access to devices and training so they can participate robustly in an increasingly digital world. Through our model of providing good internet access and HP Inc’s multi-use devices which can be used by numerous users, we’re seeing youth accessing free digital literacy training and obtaining certificates of achievement, using the devices to apply for jobs and further study, as well as for school projects.”

The implementation of the partnership is congruous with HP Inc.’s Digital Equity initiative, which is activated though a range of programmes, collaborations, and investment. The company’s 2030 goal is to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people. Their strategy focuses on hardware, connectivity, quality content and digital literacy, and has already showed impressive results, accelerating digital equity for 21.3 million people through 2022. Through its focus on digital equity, HP Inc. aims to expedite equitable access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunity, which is similarly echoed by gold-youth’s holistic youth empowerment model. 

The centres will all benefit from HP Inc. hardware and IT support, providing connectivity, access to laptops and digital skills development courses, including HP LIFE, that form a core part of the gold Model, and that also serve as a valuable resource to broader marginalized communities. 

“Having access to connected technology and quality content—along with the skills to use—are all essential to participating in an ever-increasing digital world. We appreciate that gold-youth shares our commitment to address barriers holistically so young people in Africa can equitably thrive in the new digital economy,” said Michele Malejki, global head of social impact, HP Inc. and director of the HP Foundation. “Together, HP and gold-youth are working to scale solutions and accelerate digital equity for Africa’s next generation of citizens, changemakers, and leaders.”

Youth in Kraaifontein have praised the impact HP Inc. resources have made at the first Digital Enablement Centre. Junior Facilitator Intern at Hector Peterson Secondary School, Zenathi Ndlelenqwelo is enthused by how access has been made available to those who previously had no exposure to the digital milieu: “Thank you to HP. It’s such a great honour to be able to work with the best laptops ever, and hopefully this will help the Peer Educators to engage more and learn their digital skills from High School, and not to have to learn them outside of school. It will also help them to gain more confidence.”

Literacy opens doors to progress, and appropriately, this is highlighted by the United Nations’ fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which reads: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all and promote life-long learning.” Whilst championing a movement to change the system of youth education and upbringing in Africa, gold-youth’s African technology scale strategy and HP Inc.’s Digital Equity Initiative is contributing to the achievement of this goal.

Bridging the ever-widening digital divide has become an imperative of our time, and the HP Inc. and gold-youth collaboration is a significant social capital investment tailored to enhance resilience for the marginalized, and to secure an equitable future for all.