Empowering Uganda’s Youth Through Digital Skills: MTN Foundation’s Vision and Impact

Students of Ariwa SS in Yumbe use the computers donated by MTN Uganda to champion computer skills and literacy in the school
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By Namutebi Sumayiya

In the wake of rapid technological advancements and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, MTN Foundation has embarked on a transformative journey to empower Uganda’s youth with digital skills. The launch of the second phase of the MTN ACE program marks a significant milestone, reinforcing MTN Uganda’s commitment to digital solutions for the country’s progress.

Students of Ariwa SS in Yumbe use the computers donated by MTN Uganda to champion computer skills and literacy in the school

ICT is a cornerstone of modern economies, driving innovation, efficiency, and growth. In Uganda, the ICT sector enhances productivity, improves service delivery, and fosters economic development. With a young and rapidly growing population, equipping the youth with digital skills is essential for personal development and the country’s overall progress.

Since its inception in December 2022, the MTN ACE program has addressed the need for digital literacy among the youth. The first phase, backed by UGX 1.5 billion, equipped 185 youths with digital and entrepreneurial skills, supporting 35 enterprises. The second phase, with an investment of UGX 4.5 billion, aims to equip 8,000 youths and create 150 startups over the next three years.

The MTN ACE program focuses on three key areas namely; the MTN ACE Tech that focuses on upskilling youth interested in tech-related innovations, the MTN ACE Career which empowers fresh graduates with workplace skills and internship placements and lastly the MTN ACE Skills which is tailored for youths in or out of school, equipping them with entrepreneurial skills to start businesses.

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The success of the MTN ACE program is anchored in partnerships with stakeholders such as the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance and the National ICT Innovation Hub. These collaborations align the program with national development goals and address youth unemployment.

MTN Uganda will establish ICT and innovation hubs at Makerere University, Gulu University, Kabale University, and Busitema University, providing youths with access to state-of-the-art facilities.

MTN Uganda is proud to note that this initiative has had a significant impact, yielding tangible results through the innovations driven by participating youths. One notable example is Tweheyo Brian’s innovation, Rent Beta. Brian developed technology that facilitates the payment of rent in manageable installments, easing the financial burden on renters and fostering financial inclusion and stability.

Another inspiring story is that of Collins Mbulakyalo, the founder of Waape. Waape is a marketplace platform that uses artificial intelligence to pair vetted and available candidates with companies seeking to hire. This innovation is transforming the hiring landscape, making it easier for African talent to connect with job opportunities that match their skills and passions. By doing so, Waape offers a solution to unemployment, one of the biggest challenges faced by youths today.

The MTN Girls in Tech program recently celebrated the graduation of 112 youths in Computer Applications User Occupation, including eight males and 104 females. This brings the total number of graduates to 305 out of 385 assessed and 527 trained since the program’s inception. The program targets training at least 400 youths annually in essential software tools.

Uganda faces significant youth unemployment challenges, with a rate of 17%. MTN Foundation, in partnership with Smart Girls Foundation, aims to bridge this gap through digital skills training.

MTN Uganda will provide an additional UGX 271 million to Smart Girls Foundation to equip more girls with digital skills, including purchasing digital equipment. Since 2019, MTN Uganda has significantly invested in enhancing the learning experience at Smart Girls Foundation.

MTN Uganda’s investment in digital skills training is about creating opportunities for economic and social advancement. As Uganda navigates the digital age, initiatives like the MTN ACE program and MTN Girls in Tech are vital for preparing the youth to lead, innovate, and transform their communities. MTN’s commitment to fostering a digitally inclusive society is making significant strides toward a brighter, more connected future for all.

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