Why Africa’s EdTech sector must focus on job creation

Why Africa’s EdTech sector must focus on job creation

EdTech startups, fueled by venture funding, have emerged as powerful tools, offering innovative alternatives to traditional learning. These companies have harnessed digital platforms to make learning more accessible, offering hope for a brighter future in the African job market.

At the Mastercard EdTech Conference in Abuja, a critical question dominated discussions: how can EdTech prepare students for jobs that may not even exist yet? This concern highlights the true measure of these initiatives’ success.

According to the World Bank, Africa produces 10 million graduates annually from 668 universities, yet the continent’s economy can only employ three million graduates annually. 

Bridging this gap requires building stronger relationships between academia and industry, said Dr. Nkemdilim Iheanachor, an Academic Director at the Lagos Business School, during a panel session on Monday. “On our part, we tried to close the gap between classroom learning and industry requirements.”

The true test of EdTech’s success lies in job creation, not access to education. Africa is projected to supply the world’s largest share of future workers by 2100. Upskilling future workers with in-demand and futuristic digital skills will close the digital divide and help Africans compete globally.

“The unanswered question is EdTech for what?” asked Tochukwu Ezeukwu, Regional Director, African Venture Philanthropy Alliance (AVPA) on the sidelines of the event. “All of these conversations only end one way—how can Africans get or create jobs.”

The future of work has long shifted to more in-demand jobs powered by technology, thanks to a coronavirus pandemic in 2020. This contributed to the 2021 EdTech funding surge of $81 million. A 2021 Workplace Learning Trends Report by Udemy revealed that industries have increased demand for data analysis and data science expertise. 

While remote learning and skills development in data analysis, AI, and automation showcase EdTech’s potential, further progress is essential. 

“We need tech skills to transform our continent,” said Hendrina Doroba, a division Manager for Education and Skills Development at the AfDB. “We must begin to assess our preparedness for the future.”

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