• UNITAR hosted a mid-programme review for the “Developing Essential Digital Skills for Women and Youth in Africa” programme in Nairobi (15-16 January 2024). 
  • Ambassador of Japan to Kenya Mr. Ken Okaniwa joined the Head of UNITAR Hiroshima Office Ms. Chisa Mikami, partner representatives, industry experts and programme participants at the review.
  • The digital reskilling programme is funded by the Government and the People of Japan. It trains 5,000 women and youth across 24 sub-Saharan African countries.
  • The programme is implemented by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in collaboration with Microsoft, IBM and Pasona Inc.

29 January 2024, Nairobi, Kenya – UNITAR held a mid-term review of its training programme “Developing Essential Digital Skills for Women and Youth in Africa” on 15 and 16 January 2024 in Nairobi. The event brought together ecosystem and industry experts, government officials and partners to share industry and market insights, and mentor and advise the programme participants to optimize their learning journeys.

The digital skills training programme is funded by the Government and the People of Japan and aims to strengthen the employability and develop the livelihoods of 5,000 women and youth across 24 English-speaking sub-Saharan African countries. The 5-month programme is designed and implemented by UNITAR and supported by Microsoft, IBM and Pasona Inc.

At the mid-term review, a round-table discussion was held on how digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can be leveraged to unlock employment and livelihood opportunities in Africa. The Embassy of Japan to Kenya, IBM, Microsoft, the Digital Economy Department of the Nairobi City County and other ecosystem partners shared their remarks. Speakers highlighted the significance of upskilling and reskilling to respond to the digital skills gaps among youth and women in Africa. Youth and women in Africa are keen to leverage digital technologies and well-designed programmes can empower and inspire them to innovate and enhance their livelihoods.

The training participants also showcased the progress of their social-impact projects. The projects include providing essential digital skills for community youth, agricultural entrepreneurship focused on rural women, enhancing the safety of women in the digital space, and other practical applications of digital skills to challenges faced by the participants and their communities.

At UNITAR, and especially the Division for Prosperity, we would like to empower women economically and socially and to achieve gender equality.” — Chisa Mikami, Head of UNITAR- Hiroshima Office

Longstanding Collaboration between UNITAR and the Government of Japan


“Developing Essential Digital Skills for Women and Youth in Africa” is one of many initiatives that UNITAR and the Government of Japan implement through their long-standing collaboration in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

UNITAR has done a very good job in trying to give essential digital skills and livelihood development skills to youth and women so that when they complete the programme they can immediately apply them. It’s a huge opportunity for all." — Ambassador of Japan to Kenya Mr. Ken Okaniwa

The success of the programme is based on collaboration with key ecosystem partners. It engages with government institutions for wider outreach and increased social and economic impact. Some participants have already found jobs thanks to their new digital skills.

“One of our key mandates and objectives is to expose the youth to a global innovation forum. So, through this collaboration, we are sure that all the youth, the youth that will go through our system and our accelerator programmes have got an opportunity of benefiting from the Government of Japan.” said —Elizabeth Ndungu, Director of Digital Economy & Startups Innovation, Nairobi City County

Developing Essential Digital Skills for Women and Youth in Africa

Digital technologies are disrupting traditional practices and transforming economies across the globe. Aligned with the Africa Union Agenda 2063, the UNITAR digital reskilling programme aims to enhance the employability and competitiveness of African women and youth in the global workforce, readying them with digital skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the future of work in a digital-driven world.

“In the last few months, we have seen a model that works. We’ve brought together a number of learners from across Africa. From the testimonials that were shared today, it is clear that there has been a significant transformation in the learning that they acquired in the last few months. A call to others who are keen on the skilling of African youth to join us: Let’s empower the young people to build a better future.” — John Matogo, Middle East & Africa Leader, IBM Corporate Social Responsibility

The programme started in November 2023 and has three phases. In the first phase, learners embarked on self-paced e-learning. In the second phase, they turned to practical implementation through self-led projects, webinars and hackathons. In the third phase – the Community and Sustainability workshop – top talent from the 24 countries will be invited to Nairobi to present their innovative projects. 

“Microsoft is committed to empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, which means that we work with partners like UNITAR, the national government and also the county governments to reach ordinary citizens.” — Winnie Karanu, Philanthropies Lead – Microsoft Sub-Saharan Africa.

The mid-programme review provided insights and feedback to organizers as the programme participants discussed their learning progress and overall learning journey.

“We appreciate UNITAR for the cooperation and the management operation of this project.” — Uchikoshi Fumihiro, Second Secretary, Commercial & Trade Attaché, Economic Affairs & Economic Cooperation Section, Embassy of Japan in Kenya.


The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a dedicated training arm of the United Nations. In 2022, UNITAR trained over 395,000 learners around the world to support their actions for a better future and continues to grow the numbers with diverse portfolio of innovative learning programmes. In addition, UNITAR’s presence spreads global with offices in Hiroshima, New York and Bonn and networks around the world.

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