A Youth Innovation Center in Isiolo, Kenya has been identified as a model training facility following its upgrade.

 The hub provides training and work opportunities to the youth. As part of its Ajira initiative, the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs has connected the centre to NOFBI, a super high-speed government fibre network that reaches all the sub-counties. Ajira programme aims to create jobs for the youths.

Global technology leader, Huawei has sponsored the internet equipment that connects to NOFBI so that there is complete coverage of Wi-Fi at the centre, covering the training rooms, the IT room, the outdoor area, and the offices. The speeds are now more than 100 mbps thanks to the cutting-edge outdoor and indoor Wi-Fi access points using the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology.

The centre was launched in late 2020 with funding from the UK government through UNDP. Through the support of KSG and Isiolo County the centre has rapidly scaled up its programmes with training benefitting youth from all 10 wards of Isiolo covering film, agribusiness, entrepreneurship, technology and social activities including drama, dance, and martial arts.

The launch of the upgraded centre was presided by dignitaries led by ICT Cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru who met Ajira coordinators and youth.

“With the digital age, comes many opportunities for those who are technologically savvy. Today we have 1.2 million youth working online earning decent wages in the gig economy. Our aim is to push this figure to over 15 million by 2030. Through the national fiber optic cable my Ministry has connected this centre to super high-speed internet and these speeds are now more than 100 mbps and so private sector such as Huawei Technologies have connected equipment for you to be able to access this speed through wi-fi. I congratulate them and I thank them,” said Mr Mucheru.

The Youth Center organises a digital literacy training course to get them the skills they need to be able to use those devices, and the internet. Over 80 youth have completed that course and there are 20 more currently enrolled. There are also plans to start coding classes in the near future. Meanwhile 2 of the trainers here have been trained by Huawei online on security and received certificates during the event, so that they can provide certified HCIA training here to the youth on that and more advanced trainings in the future. This ensures that youth in Isiolo can have the full range of trainings, from basic digital literacy, to online marketing, transcription and also advanced courses. Without a university in Isiolo, the value of this here is even more than elsewhere in Kenya.

Speaking during the visit, Dr Stephen Jackson, UN Resident Coordinator said: “This Youth Innovation Center is investing in young people as our future. It is capitalizing on the immense possibilities for the creation of productive employment, decent work, innovation, entrepreneurship, improving livelihoods, reducing poverty and I just want to congratulate you all. Together we are leveraging the rapidly evolving digital technologies that help youth to get and keep jobs.”