Home TECHNOLOGY MTN Foundation Launches Youth Economic Empowerment Initiative Dubbed MTN ACE

MTN Foundation Launches Youth Economic Empowerment Initiative Dubbed MTN ACE

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MTN Uganda’s Corporate Social Responsibility arm, MTN Foundation, has launched a nationwide youth-centred economic empowerment initiative dubbed the MTN ACE. 

The MTN ACE initiative was launched in Kampala at the National ICT Innovation hub under the theme “Digital Skills for digital jobs”. This timely campaign comes at a time when many youths are faced with a year-on-year soaring unemployment challenge as highlighted by the most recent (2021) world bank report https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.UEM.1524.ZS?locations=UG. Further studies indicate that 77% of Uganda is under the age of 30 and its population is set to double by 2060. There are not enough jobs available. Youth unemployment is already high and is indicated to rise as the population grows.

It is against this background that MTN Foundation Uganda and its partners have introduced the MTN ACE program aimed at tackling the issue of youth unemployment in supplement of all the other government efforts. The initiative targets a wide base of youths in Uganda including; fresh graduates, those in and out of school, innovators, entrepreneurs well as tech-driven start-ups. This is all aimed at nurturing an all-around workforce with the requisite skills for the 21st-century job market, as well as generating a pool of job creators to alleviate the current unemployment dilemma that the youth in Uganda are currently facing.

MTN ACE initiative brings to the public three MTN Foundation programs which include; the MTN ACE Tech program which focuses on upskilling the youth interested in tech-related innovations under which MTN has also equipped the national ICT hub with state-of-the-art equipment to allow innovators to prototype and incubate their ideas into a feasible business.

The second program under the initiative is the MTN ACE Career program which seeks to empower fresh graduates with workplace skills and internship placement, and lastly is the MTN ACE Skills program which is tailor-made for the youths who are in or out of school to equip them with entrepreneurial skills.

The MTN foundation has earmarked UGX 1.5 billion towards this initiative for the year 2023 in line with their corporate social responsibility agenda aimed at impacting the livelihoods of the communities MTN operates.

The MTN ACE initiative is an invention of the MTN Uganda Foundation, executed in partnership with; the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, The National ICT Innovation Hub, Centenary Technology Services, Refactory, MUBS Entrepreneurship Innovation, and Incubation Centre, as well as MTN’s Fintech subsidiary, MTN MoMo Uganda Limited.

Speaking at the launch of the multi-billion MTN ACE campaign, Ms. Sylvia Mulinge the MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer expressed MTN’s commitment towards empowering the youth, especially considering the soaring levels of unemployment in the country.

“This multi-pronged campaign will offer opportunities to a cross-section of the youth of this country and empower them on their various career journeys. They shall be able to get hands-on training for job placements as well as the much-needed digital skills to help them flourish in their various careers as well as innovate ideas that would allow them to start businesses that might even become global. I thank all our partners who have made this vision a reality,” she said, noting that it will require a concerted effort to deal with the unemployment issue in Uganda. 

Hon. Joyce Ssebugwawo, the minister of State for Information, Communications and Technology lauded MTN Uganda and its partners for the critical campaign that is crucial to bridging the digital skills gap in the country as it further positions itself for the 4th industrial revolution.

“ICT skills are at the heart of Uganda’s development agenda. We believe that by empowering the youth to harness the digital era, Uganda shall be able to earn its share of the digital dividend in the near future. I urge the youth out there to seize this opportunity,” Ssebugwawo said.

MUBS’ Entrepreneurship expert, Dr. Diana Ntamu also urged the youth to seize this opportunity to improve their odds of finding employment as well as advancing their careers. She particularly lauded the MTN ACE Career Program which shall enable fresh graduates to acquire necessary hands-on skills that shall enable them to find suitable employment upon completion.

Applications for the three programs namely; ACE Tech, ACE Career, and ACE Skills commence today 15th December 2022 and shall close next year on January 13th. Interested youths can submit their applications through https://www.mtn.co.ug/impact/mtn-ace/

Dr. Fredrick Edward Kitoogo, the principal at the Uganda Institute of Information and Communication Technology which hosts the National Innovation Hub, commented MTN Foundation for the new program saying it will immensely benefit the youth.

“Our youth are no less talented than those of foreign countries and can make our country shine globally…let us all work smart so that our country realizes the fruits of our national innovation hub through our innovations, ideas and support that will propel our nation going forward,” he said.

Peter Kahiigi, the Chief Technology Officer of Cente Tech, a subsidiary of Centenary Group said they are proud to partner with MTN Uganda and the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in implementing a project of such magnitude.

“We as Centenary Bank are honoured to work with MTN Uganda, MTN Foundation and the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance because nearly all the products that are going to be produced can be consumers within our active markets,” he said. 

“Centenary Bank has a big mass of people and it is important to us as Cente Tech to use technology to digitalise lives of the rural people while conserving the environment… We believe that this partnership will help us achieve our aspiration of a digitalised nation.”

MTN Foundation Uganda is committed to empowering the youths by offering opportunities that support the youth to fully realize their potential while contributing positively to their communities, countries as well as the African continent, and beyond.

Details of the MTN ACE Programs

MTN Work Readiness Program (MTN ACE Career)

The initiative provides a three-months soft skills training and internship placement for selected participating fresh graduates. Initially, a total of 100 recent graduates will be shortlisted to participate. Fifty (50) of the shortlisted graduates will be recruited in cohort 1 and another fifty graduates will be recruited in cohort 2. Graduates who successfully go through the program will be placed at MTN Uganda to do internship for a period of three months. Makerere University Business School Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship Centre (MUBS-EIIC) will serve as the training and coaching implementing partner in the program and will also be responsible for conducting research and tracer studies.

Partnership key facts: program period 1 year; focus area – diploma and under graduates; reach – national; impact anticipated – graduates skilled for the job market; ambition – A digitally skilled Human capital.

MTN Innovation Program (MTN ACE Tech)

MTN Foundation in partnered with the Ministry of ICT/National ICT innovation hub to implement the MTN Innovation Program through Centenary Technology Services. The partnership focuses on business development and advisory service, capacity building and incubation of innovations.

The hub creates an environment for ICT innovators facing challenges with workspace, limited internet connectivity and searching for creative spaces that spur thinking. MTN Foundation seeks to equip the space and conduct training, coaching and mentorship for startups. The program will target Ugandans with an innovative idea solving real life problems across all sectors, with specific key priority areas of Uganda’s Vision2040 – National Development Priorities i.e., Agriculture, Tourism & Trade, Minerals & Energy, Health, Education, Refugee/Host Communities and the Justice, Law and Order sector.

Partnership key facts: program period 5 years with annual renewals; focus area – youth skilling; reach – national; impact anticipated – youth skilled and jobs created; ambition – Uganda, Africa’s innovation Powerhouse.

The program will cost Ugx 1.2 billion where, Ugx903m towards equipment and business advisory services and internet services (50Mbps) Ugx 120m. Total of 80 innovators (developers and startups) will benefit from the program yearly.

MTN Foundation Youth Skilling Program (MTN ACE Skill)

The program is aimed at designing and delivering practical knowledge, skills experience for youth and young adults in preparation for the 4th Industrial Revolution. The mission of the MTN Foundation youth empowerment program is to inspire and empower youth and young adults towards the practical application of innovative ICT solutions to solve their communities’ most pressing challenges.

Partnership key facts: program period 6 months; focus area – youth skilling; reach – national; impact anticipated – youth skilled and startups created.

Target group – The program is targeting a group of 100 beneficiaries of university graduates, SMEs, and Innovators (ideation). The Foundation will invite applications from young innovators in Uganda.

The MTN Skills Academy

The MTN Skills Academy is the flagship program of MTN Group under the Digital Skills for Digital jobs thematic area which was launched on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress Africa in Kigali, Rwanda on October 25th and is aligned with the African Union’s ‘Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa’ as well as MTN’s Ambition 2025 strategic intent of leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress.

The Skills Academy is an online platform that aims to create solutions that address a lack of opportunities and challenges that currently face the youth, the most vulnerable group on the continent. The MTN Skills Academy provides MTN with a unique opportunity to differentiate itself from its peers by addressing a critical gap of linking digital skills training with placement in digital jobs. This will not only help address the digital skills shortage but will also have knock-on benefits for economic growth on the continent. 

The MTN Skills Academy is to be piloted within four (4) OPCOS which include Uganda, Zambia, Ghana and Rwanda ahead of the other MTN markets.

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Rashid is a Public Interest Journalist based in Kampala - Uganda. He has bias for Fashion, Entertainment and current affairs. Contact Rashid on: rkyonjo@thetowerpost.com