Microsoft unveils First AppFactory in Kenya
The first AppFactory in Kenya was launched at United States International University – Africa (USIU-Africa) on 7th February 2018. The program was made possible through collaboration between the university and Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative.
The AppFactory shall address the competency gap between ICT graduates and employment, by equipping students with high-level skills in designing, developing, implementing and managing modern software solutions. The initiative will provide an experiential way of learning, encouraging students to develop new skills, attitudes and ways of thinking. In addition, it will provide access to first-grade jobs through the Microsoft Partner Network, increasing the employability of USIU-Africa students and unemployed graduates from other universities who participate in the programme.
“Despite hundreds of students graduating in ICT, IT companies are still finding it difficult to recruit graduates who are ready to contribute as software developers, without first taking them through extensive on-the-job training,” Professor Paul T. Zeleza, Vice Chancellor of USIU-Africa stated.
The Vice-Chancellor additionally commented: “According to a 2016 report by Zalego, 72% of local ICT firms have had most of their software solutions developed by foreigners and not Kenyans, while only 26% have had their software products developed locally by Kenyan-based software development companies. By enhancing local employability and entrepreneurship, the AppFactory aims to change [these statistics].”
According to the VC, the AppFactory is important to the university because it fits in with its learning priorities and its objectives to embrace innovation, entrepreneurship, and research.
The AppFactory is the 14th AppFactory to be launched in partnership with Microsoft on the African continent. The AppFactory program has been launched in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda, Mauritius, Malawi, and Ethiopia.
In 2017, 500 students graduated from the Africa AppFactories, with 85% securing full-time jobs within three months of graduation. Others have started their own businesses.
“Graduates from the AppFactory are highly sought-after. Virtually all of them find work – often before they even graduate,” Lutz Ziob, Dean of the Microsoft 4Afrika Academy said. “Across Africa, AppFactory students are learning how to build digital solutions in business, finance, healthcare, education, agriculture, tourism and transportation. As they become experienced software engineers – working with modern technologies from cloud computing to secure coding, bots and data analytics – start-ups and corporates are snatching them up.”
“What we do in the AppFactory is we take real-world problems, put them in front of the young people, give them the latest technology, and give them support through experienced craftsmen in engineering. Through that combination, they graduate after 6 months and are ready to be employed in future-proof jobs,” Ziob explained.
USIU-Africa will host the AppFactory, while Microsoft will provide assistance and access to various platforms, tools and networks to successfully operate the programme. The AppFactory will target final year ICT students at USIU-Africa and fresh graduates from other universities. Every six months, 30 students will become software apprentices and receive training and mentorship by senior software craftsmen.