More than 2800 women graduated with Certificates in the Digital Employability Programme, during a ceremony that took place at the African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute (AFRALTI) on 26th January, 2023 and which was presided over by Mrs. Mercy Wanjau, Secretary to the Cabinet.
Themed: ‘Young Women for the Digital Economy’, the programme saw the training of at least 2,832 vulnerable women from informal settlements and rural areas to leverage on the digital space to help them create and monetize creative works with the aim of enhancing their livelihoods. This was realized with financial support from the British High Commission in Kenya, under its Digital Access Programme.
In 2021, Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) partnered with the African Centre for Women, Information, and Communications Technology (ACWICT) among other co-implementing to empower high-potential young/vulnerable women with market-driven digital skills in order to pursue career opportunities in the digital, online and creative workspaces.
A total of 2,384 young women got the opportunity to learn and specialize in a variety of skills, including digital marketing, online writing, and administrative support (transcription, data entry, and virtual assistance) among other digital space-based areas.
In her remarks, Mrs. Wanjau applauded the drivers of the programme while noting that the graduation ceremony and the impact of the Project are testaments to the transformational power of technology.
“As a country, we have made significant strides in the digital space. Like many other countries in the world, it is because of ICT technology that we were able to remain resilient despite the difficult operating environment at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mrs. Wanjau.
She further said that the Digital Employability Programme was a silver lining because it was birthed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and through the programme, the beneficiary young women can now eke a living and by extension contribute to nation-building.
In remarks read on behalf of Hon. Jonathan Mueke, Permanent Secretary, Sports and the Arts, the PS congratulated the women for the successful completion of the programme.
He also commended the UK Government through its Digital Access Programme for the kind gesture of funding the programme, which incorporated the digital creative space, and which he said was in line with the Ministry of Youths, Sports and the Arts’ plan for Kenyan Creatives.
“The identification of the creative economy as a key driver of the economy is not misplaced,” he said.
“Kenya National Bureau of Statistic’s 2019 Economic Survey showed that the Kenyan film industry directly employed 129,824 people in 2019 or about 4.5 per cent of the country’s total employed workforce,” Mueke said, adding that the Kenyan film and audiovisual sector contributed an estimated Sh14.07 billion to the country’s GDP, during the same period.
He noted with pride that over 54 per cent of mobile telephone users in the country have access to smartphones and encouraged the graduands, particularly those in the creative space, to leverage on the same to generate wealth as well as create more jobs in the digital space.
The ACWICT Executive Director Ms. Constantine Obuya reiterated the need to help young women develop market-driven digital skills that could enable them to secure employment or get re-employed to suppress the effects of COVID -19 arose.
She further added that Together with their financial partner, the UK Government Digital Access Programme, and Microsoft, our long-standing partner, we explored ways through which we could resume our work remotely.
“As part of our sustainability and increased reach, we have over the last year integrated a one-of-a-kind eLearning platform that is giving students everywhere an opportunity to scale up their essential skills from the comfort of their homes and at their convenience,” she said.
The Deputy High Commissioner, British High Commission Ms. Josephine Gauld applauded the Partners who made sacrifices to ensure the young women excelled noting that exercise was a clear result and demonstration of fantastic teamwork.
She noted that the programme brings the UK Government’s commitment to working with all partners to build more open, inclusive and resilient societies, in particular championing and supporting women’s participation and girls’ education and to promote gender equality, working with women’s rights organisations to tackle the discrimination, violence and inequality that hold women back.
“The UK Government will continue to collaborate with the Government of Kenya, the Ministry of ICT and Digital Economy, other Ministries, Departments and Agencies like the Communications Authority of Kenya and other Government Agencies in support of such noble courses” she added.
Mr. Cristopher Wambua, the KFCB Ag. CEO, noted that women’s participation in the creative space has for long lagged behind that of their male counterparts. “According to 2019 Economic Survey, female film-makers constituted between 30% and 40% of the total number of filmmakers in the country,” said Wambua.
He commended the partners for initiating Phase III of the Covid-19 and Digital Employability Programme, which incorporated a component on creative space, therefore, presenting an irresistible opportunity of bridging this gap while at the same time creating the next generation of creatives to tell authentic Kenyan stories to the rest of the world through the lens of the African woman.
He further added that the Covid-19 pandemic occasioned massive disruptions in the creative economy locally and globally. The protocols and other measures instituted to contain the spread of the pandemic not only saw the closure of cinema theatres but also stoppage of filming activities and physical distribution of films and other forms of audio-visual content in the country.
Wambua assured the creatives that the Board was keen on creating a facilitative environment to monetize their content, noting the Nairobi Film Centre, formerly the Nairobi Cinema, is one of such avenue, which they can use to showcase their work, be it film screenings and stage performances.
Wambua further noted that Board is working with its parent Ministry to introduce a self-regulatory framework that will encourage more Video on Demand and Over the Top commercial audio-visual platform operators to venture into the local market and thus open up new opportunities to monetize your content.
“This framework will promote the ease of doing business in the sector by ensuring that broadcasters and commercial online streaming service platforms self-classify content instead of submitting it to the regulator for assignment of age-appropriate ratings,” he concluded.
This Digital Employability Programme was implemented by the African Centre for Women Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT) and the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), with the support of the UK Digital Access Programme. In addition, its execution model facilitated the learners to access practicums, connected them with mentors and job placement partners, and provided psychosocial support.