IBM last week kicked off a Sh6 billion ($6 million) programme to enhance training of technology and engineering students and prepare them well for the job market.
Through a partnership with Kenya Education Network (KENET), the technology firm will beam out courses from a vetted curriculum on a universal cloud system in more than 50 universities in the country.
The key objective of the training is to prevent situations where some students are locked out of the job market annually after their degrees are declared fake by the Engineering Board of Kenya (EBK).
The initiative follows EBK’s directive last week that public universities face a five-year jail term and a fine of Sh5 million for admitting students to unapproved engineering courses.
“The cloud system is hosted by Nairobi University and managed by KENET. It can be accessed free of charge by computer science, information technology and engineering students across the country,” said Prof Meoli Kashorda, KENET executive director.
IBM will leverage on KENET’s existing broadband infrastructure in all the main campuses of the 57 universities.
Faculties and students of the universities will be trained on additive skills such as cyber security, mobile education and business analytics.
“The students will have access to IBM platforms and software that are standardised globally. This will prepare them for the job market,” said IBM East Africa University Relations Country Leader John Baptist Matogo.
The US technology giant set foot in Kenya in 2013, with a promise to invest a significant part of its annual budget in training.
The new initiative expected to be a major boost to the country’s expertise.
IBM has pledged to turn to local universities for top talent.
The IBM certification is globally recognized allowing students to transfer those skills anywhere in the world.
The programme was first piloted at Kenyatta University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology since August 2014.
Now it has been spread out with more than 8,000 students studying IT degree programmes from nine universities countrywide.
Lecturers enrolled in the programme are already training other students in Tunisia and Nigeria.
Meanwhile in Kenya, EBK registrar Nicholas Musuni recently said engineering courses are only accredited if they meet five requirements; programme design, curriculum, adequate faculty staff and training facilities as well as infrastructure, and duration of training.
“We have warned universities before that they should not admit students to any unapproved programme,” Mr Musuni said.
However, the skills gap, IBM has noted, not only affects Kenya but the entire continent.
IBM East Africa General Manager Nicholas Nesbitt said that the programme is already in 13 universities in Africa with thousands of students and lecturers enrolled.
Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi announced during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in July that the programme would benefit over 80 universities spread across South Sudan, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and Kenya.
IBM KENYA OFFICE
IBM opened a fully fledged office in Kenya in 2010 to support its Strategic Outsourcing deal with Airtel and to also drive its technology services across 10 East African countries.
In 2012, the Kenyan Government entered into a partnership with IBM to set up a Research and Development facility (IBM Research Africa) in Kenya that addresses Africa's developmental challenges including education and health.
IBM on the other hand was to provide hardware, software and high-end scientific expertise as it pooled funds from its US headquarters to support local technology.
The firm through the IBM Research-Africa facility has recently piloted a data collection and analysis programme in schools in Mombasa to assist the government in addressing education challenges. The programme will also be enhanced to address schools countrywide.
Also in the county capacity, IBM is now addressing Nairobi’s biggest problems-traffic and garbage collection.
Researchers at the lab are trying to come up with mobile based sensors that will help cut billions lost in garbage collection as well as traffic jams.