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VMware Believes In Africa

(To mark the end of the year we are posting every day through January 1 with lighter vSphere and VMware topics. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. See them all via the “2019 Wrap Up” tag!)

(As part of this series we wanted to highlight the work going on as part of the Virtualize Africa program. The following post is from Rachel Onamusi, VMware partner and Virtualize Africa digital strategist, telling the story better than we ever could. I also really enjoy the proverb at the end. Thank you Rachel! -Bob)

Virtualize Africa LogoThere was a time when it was thought that the most valuable resources Africa had to offer were either in the ground or grew out of it. From diamonds to gold, copper, uranium, and palm oil, it seemed the road to development lay in extraction, not in input, involvement, or inclusion. The results of the resulting exploitation have been dire. Africa has struggled to live up to its full potential leaving many of her countries’ citizens under-prepared and ill-equipped to partake in discussions that engender growth, development, or excellence in any of the indices by which developed nations are measured.

Given the disparity that exists, many have put their faith in leapfrogging, which is the idea that Africa can escape its challenges by skipping certain stages of development. Very few phases lend itself so admirably to this notion as technology does, with one of the biggest examples of leapfrogging in action being Africa’s jump straight to mobile phones, bypassing fixed-line technology and making exposure and education accessible to millions of people.

Education, health, agriculture, business and industry are all being significantly impacted by Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things and Cloud Computing. The need for these pillars of development to scale is pressing and the human capacity is certainly there: Africa remains home to some of the most inventive, creative, and efficient adopters of technology, creating solutions to meet local needs even under difficult circumstances.

What is sadly lacking is the education to maximise the potential of the burgeoning youth population – a population that is set to be either a bonus or a burden to the continent depending on the events of the next few years. There are not enough skilled people and partners to take on the vast opportunities in Africa. As automation spreads through the continent, from financial inclusion like the M-PESA platform, apps built on TensorFlow that aid agriculture, to developer training like Andela, these new technologies bring opportunity and hope. These technologies also highlight the glaring gap between the tiny portion of the population knowledgeable in these technologies versus the people still figuratively in the dark. The high-end jobs that are starting to emerge are being outsourced to capable foreigners, many of them being flown in specifically for the project at the expense of the millions of people on ground.

The solution to this, the only way to embolden Africa with stability and the independence to progress, is to educate Africa. Handouts have proven to do more harm than good, and unequal partnerships can give way to exploitation. The freedom that comes with education and the confidence to come to the table as an equal partner in any business relationship cannot be overemphasised, and this is exactly what VMware is achieving with the Virtualize Africa Program.

The Virtualize Africa Program was started by the VMware IT Academy to upskill and reskill Africans in order that they might lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The program packages the VMware Certified Professional certification as virtual, self-paced training, taking Cloud Computing from the basic foundations to a standardised, globally-accepted certification level. Trainees do not need to have prior tech or Cloud experience; they simply need data connection and a will to develop new opportunities for themselves.

The success of the program has proven the theory to be true – that with access to new skills, Africans can excel in the tech field too. From college undergraduates to insurance salesmen in need of more fulfilling career paths, the trainees under the Virtualize Africa are varied but in agreement over one thing: if they are to take control of their lives, then they must do it through acquiring new skills.

VMware has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union in its bid to disseminate Cloud Computing training as efficiently as possible.  Over the next few years, the VMware IT Academy will also be working with universities and tech hubs across Africa to integrate the training into academic syllabuses, an effort that is already well under way.

An African proverb states that “If you want to go far, go together”. If there is any truth to this, then the partnership between VMware and the continent is poised to yield great benefits for a long time to come.

(Come back tomorrow for a look at VMworld! For more posts in this series visit the “2019 Wrap Up” tag.)

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