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New Economy Skills for Africa Program-Information and Communication Technologies (NESAP-ICT)

NESAP-ICT is an innovative program launched by the World Bank in 2008 to support countries in Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) in building skills for the knowledge economy. It focuses initially on globally benchmarked, employable skills for the Information Technology (IT) and IT Enabled Services (ITES) industry - sectors that can create thousands of new jobs and catalyze economic and social transformation.

The IT/ITES industry offers young people the prospect of work in many areas. In IT the options include hardware and software maintenance, network administration, help desk services, applications development and maintenance and R&D; while in ITES, they include call center and back office operations, multimedia, and animation and cross-industry services such as Finance and Accounts and Human Resources. The encouraging news is that the global “potential” for IT/ITES outsourcing is currently estimated at US$500 billion, only 15% of which seems to have been tapped; and is expected to treble to US$1.5 to 1.6 trillion by 2020. The lack of skilled manpower is a binding constraint to realizing the potential of the sector. Even India which has 30% of the global labor supply suitable for the industry expects a shortfall of 0.8 to 1.2 million skilled workers for its ITES industry by 2012. Sub-Saharan Africa is thus keen to boost its “talent” profile so as to benefit from this burgeoning market opportunity The soon-to-be-completed submarine fiber optic cable networks around Africa and the terrestrial backbone networks that are now being laid promise a new era of affordable, high speed broadband connectivity throughout the continent. African countries therefore hope to claim a slice of the global IT-ITES business. Emerging successes include: Mauritius in “eco-friendly IT”, South Africa in “IT-enabled financial services” and Egypt in “multilingual call centers.” Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar and Nigeria are stepping onto the global outsourcing stage. All these countries believe that skilled workers are critical for deepening and sustaining the momentum of their success.

Vision: Bringing Africa onto the Vision: Bringing Africa onto the global IT-ITES radar screen

The soon-to-be-completed submarine fiber optic cable networks around Africa and the terrestrial backbone networks that are now being laid promise a new era of affordable, high speed broadband connectivity throughout the continent. African countries therefore hope to claim a slice of the global IT-ITES business. Emerging successes include: Mauritius in “eco-friendly IT”, South Africa in “IT-enabled financial services” and Egypt in “multilingual call centers.” Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar and Nigeria are stepping onto the global outsourcing stage. All these countries believe that skilled workers are critical for deepening and sustaining the momentum of their success.

NESAP-ICT

Building a pool of globally-benchmarked IT-ITES talent in Africa
NESAP-ICT supports employable skills that are aligned to international standards in the IT-ITES industry. The program thus emphasizes:

  • Globally-benchmarked, industry-rated skills assessment, training and certification
  • “Bridge” style training programs that align what students are taught and what industry requires
  • Industry collaboration, for example, through “knowledge hubs” to develop curricula, learning content, and testing and certification standards
  • Mainstreaming ICT in education to take advantage of IT-enabled learning and to prepare future generations of IT-savvy workers

Eight Sub-Saharan African countries benefit from 3 types of support under NESAP-ICT
Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania are currently participating in the NESAP-ICT program. The categories of support they receive include:

  • Technical assistance to assess needs and develop implementation strategies tailored to country conditions and development goals
  • Capacity building through knowledge sharing and south-south learning
  • Facilitation of new partnerships with the best-in-class learning institutions, industry associations, global certification providers, and global technology companies

Contextualizing the NESAP-ICT interventions
Besides a skilled workforce, growing a vibrant IT/ITES industry also requires a supportive “ecosystem” that includes such factors as:

  • Infrastructure such as technology- and cyber-parks, telecom backbone, reliable utilities, to provide conducive operating conditions
  • Policies to create a conducive business friendly environment and to address legal and regulatory issues as well as gaps in infrastructure, skills, and financing
  • Hassle-free facilitation of interactions between potential IT/ITES investors and their government counterparts, by removing red tape and expediting clearances
  • Organizational setup to foster entrepreneurship, business incubation and productive partnerships (e.g., between researchers and industry) and to help entrepreneurs tap into domestic and global IT/ITES markets
  • Promotional programs to attract foreign and local investors to the industry

For more information, please visit the NESAP-ICT website at www.worldbank.org/nesap-ict or write to nesap-ict@worldbank.org.




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