Kenya’s Youth Are Leveraging Digital Skills and Thriving in the Gig Economy
Kenya is undoubtedly a youthful nation with approximately 80% of its population comprising youth, who unfortunately continue to grapple with the current high unemployment rate. As technology advances, the digital economy is thriving as it presents a wide range of opportunities for Kenyan youth. Unfortunately, the advancing technology poses threats such as the digital divide where many youth lag behind in accessing digital opportunities. This in turn increases inequalities and poverty levels, due to lack of access to digital skills, knowledge and tools.
DOT Kenya in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, through the Digital Jobs program under the Daring to Shift (D2S) project, is committed to bridging the digital divide —by supporting vulnerable youth to develop the skills they need to take advantage of new jobs that are emerging as a result of digital transformations in their societies. Through the program 11,144 young women and men acquired digital skills, which inspired them and built their confidence in pursuing opportunities in the digital space. As a result, they have been able to generate more income, improve their livelihoods and support their families. Read through some of the outstanding accomplishments from the program as told by the youth.
Inspired youth to leverage digital skills in the digital space
More than 300 digital platforms link gig workers to opportunities in Africa. The Mastercard Foundation records that by 2030 80 million youth will benefit from the gig economy. The Digital Jobs program has played a huge role in ensuring that disadvantaged and underserved youth (particularly young women) are equipped with digital skills and positioned for success in the gig economy. Alex Njeru, for instance, shares his learning journey and how the program turned out to be a success for him.
“What I acquired from the DJ1 program is that I am now free to fit in the digital space. I am a happy freelancer. I can study online, work online and earn online through the digital space and it is because of the DJ1 program.”
Initially, Alex had to seek assistance from cyber attendants since he lacked digital skills. The Digital Jobs program not only equipped him with digital skills but also made him more confident in the digital space.
“What stood out for me was that during the program I acquired skills that I do not have to go to the cyber for more help because I can work from home through my phone or laptop. —Alex Njeru, DJ1 program beneficiary”
Equipped youth with data analysis skills and knowledge
Data analysis is currently among the in-demand skills in the workspace. As part of the advanced level of the Digital Jobs program, we offered the ‘Data Analysis Using Excel’ course which aimed to equip youth with different skills including analysing data and alternative data sets, working with data and excel tables and performing calculations on data. These skills helped our participants expand their knowledge and become better data professionals. Esther Oluoch, one of our beneficiaries, highlights what she gained from the program.
“I was able to gain quite a number of skills in excel, which has helped me in my workspace. It has also helped me to make informed decisions and have better marketing strategies after interacting with large amounts of data.”
Ann Maina, who also participated in our ‘Data Analysis Using Excel’ training, recounts how the program improved her data analysis knowledge. Previously, Ann had to search for data-related information online, but with the skills she acquired during the program she is now able to confidently navigate Excel functions and formulae.
“Before DOT Kenya, I had to google almost everything related to excel such as how to do some formats, some interactions with excel and how to work out some formulae. They were very helpful. Excel is my all time tool now. I do my analysis exclusively using excel and the skills came in handy. The use of formulae and functions, the way my data should appear and its elaborate attributes. I feel like a pro and have found myself sharing the knowledge more frequently. —Ann Maina, Data Analysis Using Excel Beneficiary”
Esther, Ann and Alex are evidence of the vast opportunities that youth can unlock in the digital space, progress in the gig economy and become better data professionals when supported with the required skills, tools and knowledge. The Digital Jobs program had two levels —one was the Digital Jobs Level 1 (DJ1) program which focused on empowering youth and the community with ‘Basic ICT,’ ‘Financial Literacy’ and ‘Employment Readiness’ skills. We also had the advanced level —Digital Jobs Level 2 (DJ2), which offered training on ‘Data Analysis Using Excel,’ ‘Web Design,’ and Social Media Marketing.’
D2S —an impactful initiative
D2S is a transformative multinational initiative that was implemented by Digital Opportunity Trust from 2019 to 2024 in various communities across Africa and the Middle East. This innovative initiative made it possible to empower 11,144 disadvantaged youth, with a particular focus on young women. Over the project’s duration, it reached 13,877 community beneficiaries, with 60% of them being women.
The project focused on equipping youth with essential skills such as digital literacy, workforce readiness, entrepreneurship, and social innovation. This holistic approach aimed to catalyse the creation of digital jobs, businesses, and local enterprises that address community-specific needs and value chains. D2S is rooted in the belief that young people, as co-designers of their own futures, play a pivotal role in driving inclusive growth, fostering resilience, and enabling community recovery. By bridging the digital divide, transforming ecosystems, and promoting social and economic development, D2S represented a beacon of positive change across the regions it serves especially during and after the COVID-19 Pandemic.