Microsoft 4Afrika, USIU-Africa Partner To Host First AppFactory in Kenya To Promote Value Chains of Innovation

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One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to getting a job as a graduate is being able to prove your worth especially without the necessary skills and hands-on training. You get that despite the number of university graduates in for example, ICT related courses going up but IT companies still find it difficult to recruit graduates that are ready to contribute as software developers without first taking them through extensive on-the-job training. It is with this that Microsoft4Afrika and USIU launched an AppFactory at the USIU-Africa Incubation and Innovation Centre (I2C)

The United States International University – Africa in collaboration with Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative, launched the AppFactory in order to address the competency gap between ICT graduates and employment, by equipping students with high-level skills in designing, developing, implementing and managing modern software solutions.

The initiative will provide an experiential way of learning, encouraging students to develop new skills, attitudes and ways of thinking. In addition, it will provide access to first-grade jobs through the Microsoft Partner Network, increasing the employability of USIU-Africa students and unemployed graduates from other universities who participate in the programme.

Professor Paul T. Zeleza, Vice Chancellor of USIU-Africa said: “According to a 2016 report by Zalego, 72% of local ICT firms have had most of their software solutions developed by foreigners and not Kenyans, while only 26% have had their software products developed locally by Kenyan-based software development companies. By enhancing local employability and entrepreneurship, the AppFactory aims to change that.”

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The I2C AppFactory is the 14th AppFactory to be launched in partnership with Microsoft on the continent, with others in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Mauritius, Malawi and Ethiopia.

In 2017, 500 students graduated from the Africa AppFactories, with 85% securing full-time jobs within three months of graduation. Others have started their own businesses.

“Graduates from the AppFactory are highly sought-after. Virtually all of them find work – often before they even graduate,” said Lutz Ziob, Dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy.

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Dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy, Lutz Ziob

“Across Africa, AppFactory students are learning how to build digital solutions in business, finance, healthcare, education, agriculture, tourism and transportation. As they become experienced software engineers – working with modern technologies from cloud computing to secure coding, bots and data analytics – start-ups and corporates are snatching them up.”

“USIU-Africa’s mission is to promote knowledge and skills that prepare students for an increasingly technological world. The I2C AppFactory contributes to this mission – as well as to Kenya’s Vision 2030, which aims to improve the capacity of technology graduates in creating an economy fuelled by value-added goods and services,” adds Professor Valarie Palapala Adema, the Dean of School of Science and Technology.

USIU-Africa will host the AppFactory, while Microsoft will provide assistance and access to various platforms, tools and networks to successfully operate the programme. The I2C AppFactory will target final year ICT students at USIU-Africa and fresh graduates from other universities. Every six months, 30 students will become software apprentices and receive training and mentorship by senior software craftsmen.

Enrolment for the AppFactory currently on-going and students and recent graduates can register to enrol at www.usiu.ac.ke/i2c/appfactory.

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