Africa lags behind in terms of this kind of investment in education and risks the chance of not being able to reap the full benefits from the digital age. Although Africa has a large youth population with over 60% of its population being under the age of 25, young people have very limited access to computers or the internet. UNICEF estimates that only 34% of African households have access to the internet, only 8% of students in sub-Saharan Africa have access to a computer and 14% have access to the internet at home (usually by mobile phone).
With its large population of youth, Africa has the potential to lead innovation and build an economy with secure digital jobs, but is severely challenged by low computer literacy rates. Families living in extreme poverty do not have computers at home and only a few very elite and expensive high schools have computer labs. Young people interested in enrolling in private computer schools are required to pay hefty fees that are often more than the cost of their high school tuition.
Multiple studies recognize that being able to access and participate in the digital world is one of the surest ways to lift millions out of poverty. The Brookings Institute says, “the spread of digital technologies can empower the poor with access to information, job opportunities, and services that improve their standard of living.” Unfortunately, despite the indicators that point to the enormous benefits of ensuring that African youth are computer literate, the knowledge gap remains extremely wide.
YAI is working to change this narrative and empower thousands of young people to become computer literate, thereby increasing their chances of success in today’s digital world and improving Africa’s success rate.