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Digify Africa, Facebook offer free digital skills via WhatsApp

By , ITWeb senior news journalist.
Africa , 16 Jul 2021

Digify Africa has partnered with Facebook to create Naledi, a WhatsApp learning bot that will enable young people across Africa to access digital skills programmes.

The Naledi platform, according to Digify Africa, offers accessible, low-data-cost online learning for young people on the African continent who may have limited access to connectivity and devices.

Digify Africa is an initiative by youth agency Livity Africa, which has facilitated various face-to-face youth training sessions for imparting digital skills from large tech companies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an accelerated move towards a digitised world, placing even more urgency on the need for solutions to tackle the existing digital divide.

Naledi offers a practical learning alternative suited to the African context, putting the solution into the hands of learners via the platform they use most: WhatsApp.

Online learning has made significant strides in Africa over the past decade, but limited access to resources and high data costs remain persistent challenges for young people in marginalised communities.

As a result, many are still not able to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital world.

The WhatsApp bot focuses on empowering youth with digital marketing skills, including Facebook digital marketing products and services, particularly targeted at start-ups and entrepreneurs.

It features engaging content, and an immersive learning experience that includes study groups in a self-paced learning journey that allows the participant to upskill themselves at their convenience, and get help if they are stuck.

According to the Harambee Mapping of Digital and ICT Roles and Demand for South Africa Survey, digital skills and services have the potential to pave the way for over 66 000 jobs in SA’s ICT sector over the next year, two-thirds of which are entry-level roles.

“Using WhatsApp to deliver learning has been an ambition of ours since we built an early demo in 2019, on the basis that using a free and widely-spread application like this has the potential to reach the highest number of learners at the lowest cost possible,” says Digify Africa CEO Gavin Weale.

“The challenge has been figuring out how to make the experience of learning on WhatsApp seamless and valuable, and this partnership between Digify Africa and Facebook has allowed us to deliver the first exciting iteration of that.”

Digify Africa says it has trained over 100 000 people through various free training programmes, such as Digify Pro, Boost with Facebook and Ilizwe Lam.

Naledi was first piloted with a group of UNISA postgraduate students in 2020. The project is a collaborative effort along with IT partners Techys and Clickatell, and talented youth from non-profit Geekulcha.

It is now available to young people across the African continent. Participants will be able to acquire the skills they need to pursue a career in digital marketing and gain a deeper understanding of how to grow as entrepreneurs using digital tools.

"Facebook is committed to empowering the next generation of marketers and entrepreneurs in Africa,” says Elizma Nolte, Facebook regional marketing manager for Africa.

“Digify Africa have been long-term partners in helping us drive scaled education. When COVID-19 struck and we were no longer able to deliver training in person, we started investigating using WhatsApp as a delivery channel − and Naledi was born. We are continuing to scale this impact to the world.”

Interested participants can start the WhatsApp chat here.

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