BY PETER KARANJA
The CS for ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Presidency and the UN Resident Coordinator visited the KSG-Isiolo Youth Innovation Center.
The officers visited the center alongside Governor Dhadho Kuti and commended him and partners for the wide range of services it provides to youth and the use of internet to provide training and work opportunities to the youth as part of the government’s Ajira initiative.
During the visit, the upgraded internet connection was unveiled by the CS ICT and Huawei Kenya Deputy CEO at the Center.
As part of its Ajira initiative, the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs has connected the Center to NOFBI, a super high-speed government fiber network that reaches all the sub-counties in Kenya, so that the Center has high-speed internet.
Global technology leader, Huawei, has sponsored the internet equipment that connects to NOFBI so that there is complete coverage of Wi-Fi throughout this impressive center, covering the training rooms, the IT room, the outdoor area, and the offices.
The speeds are now more than 100 mbps thanks to the cutting-edge outdoor and indoor Wi-Fi access points using the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology.
The Center was launched in late 2020 with funding from the UK government through UNDP. Through the support of KSG and Isiolo County the Center has rapidly scaled up its programmes with training benefiting youth from all 10 wards of Isiolo covering film, agribusiness, entrepreneurship, technology and social activities including drama, dance, and martial arts.
Hon. Joe Mucheru, EGH Cabinet Secretary for ICT met with the Ajira coordinators and youth and unveiled the upgraded internet noting that: “With the digital age, comes many opportunities for those who are technologically savvy.
“This Youth Innovation Center is investing in young people as our future. It is capitalizing on the immense possibilities for the creation of productive employment, decent work, innovation, entrepreneurship, improving livelihoods, reducing poverty and I just want to congratulate you all. Together we are leveraging the rapidly evolving digital technologies that help youth to get and keep jobs,” said Dr Stephen Jackson, UN Resident Coordinator.
Mr Jackson also highlighted the importance of working with the private sector to support youth.
“To realize youth’s full potential, we also need the energies of Kenya’s burgeoning private sector.”
“Both the Generation Unlimited initiative and our UN Kenya partnership platform for the Sustainable Development Goals are powerful aggregators of partnerships between public and private actors and here in Isiolo and elsewhere across the country we are really proud to be partnering with Huawei.”
“We have got to continue to see how profit for purpose can deliver both for people and for investors. We need to continue to grow the ecosystem that supports those kinds of partnerships for youth. We need just the right mix of policies, partnerships, platforms, technologies and investors,” he noted.
On his part, PS Charles Sunkuli, CBS Principal Secretary for Youth Affairs commended the broad partnership driving the Youth Center said:
“I would like to really thank the County Government of Isiolo, Kenya School of Government and the partners, UNDP and Huawei for supporting this initiative that we are celebrating today.”
The youth are able to know what is going on
Governor also Kuti highlighted the importance of the internet to the success of the Youth Center.
“There is availability of Wi-Fi, thanks to Huawei. The youth are able to know what is going on the world and they are able to participate in AGPO and everything. I would like to really thank Huawei because the attraction the youth have is their ability to access the internet and that has really become the magnet that is attracting the young people and have made even the ownership to happen that much faster and we really appreciate that.”
“The upgraded internet has make a big difference with so many youth using the internet. Every day youth are able to use the Computers to study online and work online, and they have been actively participating in the Ajira online trainings as well as online trainings from Google and Alison, and finding jobs through the Ajira platform to earn money,” said Mohamed Ali, the United Nations Volunteer running the Center.
Over 80 youth have completed
The Youth Center organizes a digital literacy training course to get them the skills they need to be able to use those devices, and the internet. Over 80 youth have completed that course and there are 20 more currently enrolled.
There are also plans to start coding classes in the near future. Meanwhile 2 of the trainers here have been trained by Huawei online on security and received certificates during the event, so that they can provide certified HCIA training here to the youth on that and more advanced trainings in the future.
This ensures that youth in Isiolo can have the full range of trainings, from basic digital literacy, to online marketing, transcription and also advanced courses. Without a university in Isiolo, the value of this here is even more than elsewhere in Kenya.
The clear vision
The Center has generated a great deal of interest throughout the country, demonstrated by the attendance at the visit by Resident Representative of UNDP, Mr Walid Badawi, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Presidency, Mme Ruth Kagia, CEO Council of Governors, Ms Mary Mwiti, CEO of Frontier Counties Development Council, Mr Mohammed Guleid and CEO of National Youth Council, Mr Roy Sasaka Telewa also attending the visit to discuss what lessons can be taken to support other youth activities across the country. They summarized various success factors that contributed to the success.
The leadership from the County government and the people involved in the Center; the clear vision and strategy for programmes at the Center; and the role of local youth whose strong ownership has helped develop and implement activities at the center.