A Recap of the Africa Digital Skills Conference, 2020

The Africa Digital Skills Conference (ADSC) was held over a 3-day period, from November 10th – 12th 2020. Mobile Web Ghana, together with its partners from Ghana and other parts of the world, teamed up to pull off what could be objectively described as a successful conference. The conference attracted trainers and participants from all over the African continent, America, Europe and beyond. There were both English and French sessions to meet the needs of Anglophone and Francophone participants who joined the conference. We thank trainers, sponsors, partners and participants for helping in diverse ways to make this event possible. The feedback we have received indicated that both trainers and participants were delighted to have been part of the maiden edition of the conference.

ADSC, which was initially planned to be held as an in-person event, ended up being held virtually on a platform called DealRoom Events. This was as a result of the observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols which place restrictions on in-person gatherings. However, one could easily describe it as an interesting turn of events because a Digital Skills conference would seem best hosted virtually than in person since going virtual would require the use of some digital devices and software to make both teaching and learning possible. Going virtual was indeed a gift in disguise because it gave us the opportunity to host trainers and participants from different parts of the world.

The main goal of the conference was to make it a training-centered conference and a hands-on experience. Trainers were informed to prepare tutorials instead of presentations and participants were also informed to join the sessions with the aim of picking up vital digital skills. This is what exactly took place over the 3-day period.

The conference commenced with an address from Florence Toffa, Director of Mobile Web Ghana and the chairperson of the organizing committee. She admonished all participants to develop their digital skills to make them competitive on the job market and to help improve their efficiency and effectiveness at the workplace. After her address, the conference officially began with a presentation by Alejandro Caballero, Principal Education Specialist at the International Finance Corporation (IFC). His presentation highlighted some major points in a research work that IFC has conducted about the future of Digital Skills in Sub-saharan Africa and Ghana, specifically. He stated that Digital Skills are amongst the top seven skills for the future workforce. His presentation was then followed by the sessions for the day. There were sessions on the following topics, Microsoft Excel functions, website development, graphic design, cloud migration, Facebook and Google ads, data analysis, and visualization, etc. Two French sessions were held on the first day and the topics were, “How to create web pages with the Django framework” and “Is flutter technology a good choice for startups?”.

The second day began with a keynote address from Prof. Nii Narku Quaynor to set the tone for the sessions of the day. Prof. Quaynor is known for playing an important role in the introduction and development of the Internet throughout Africa. In his speech, he highlighted the need for young people to develop their digital skills to disrupt industries to solve problems that plague the people of this continent.

The second day’s sessions were on the following topics, google ads and analytics, cybersecurity, basics of Microsoft Word, data exploration with Microsoft Excel, Game development with the Unity platform, databases, and SQL, data science, web search, etc. The only French session for the day was on contributing to OpenStreetMap data.

The last day had a line-up of interesting and insightful sessions available for participants to join. There were sessions on the following topics, Free and Open Source Software, Email Management, video editing, digital marketing, building a bulk SMS app, android application development with Kotlin, social media marketing, etc. There were 2 French sessions held on the last days. They were “introduction of the Azure platform” and “R for data science”. The entire conference was crowned by a keynote speech delivered by Matteo Rizzi. Matteo is known for his work in the FINTECH industry, specifically, he co-founded Innotribe, the innovation arm of SWIFT. He is also a widely read author. In his speech, Matteo touched on the need for entrepreneurs to accommodate innovation and innovative people in their startups and companies. He referred to such innovative people as “rebels” and charged entrepreneurs and business owners to learn how to manage such people in their establishments.

Judging from the caliber of trainers we had, the depth of their knowledge in the various topics they taught on, the number of participants who joined from all over the world, and also their level of participation during the sessions, the conference lived up to the expectation of both the organizers and participants. It also created an avenue for collaboration and networking. 

 In all, we had 45 trainers leading sessions from various countries across the globe, and 703 different individuals joined the conference. The attendance recorded for all the sessions sums up to 1,067. This is the maiden edition of the conference and it is our hope to come back next year with an even more insightful and educative lineup of sessions and trainers. We wouldn’t have been able to pull this off without the help of our sponsors, partners, trainers, keynote speakers, and participants. We have said our “Thank Yous” already to these different groups of people but we would like to still show our gratitude to them even now. Africa Digital Skills Conference has come to stay. See you all, next year! 

Visit our Youtube channel to access the videos of each of the sessions.