Reinventing Youth Skills Development for Africa’s Future

Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA)

Africa has the youngest population in the world, with nearly 60% of people under the age of 25. With high unemployment rates and limited educational opportunities, how will these young people acquire the skills to become powerful agents of change and the continent’s greatest asset? Transforming youth skills was at the center of recent editions of Canon Africa Frontiers of Innovation.

Africa has the youngest and fastest growing population in the world, with over 400 million people between the ages of 15 and 35. Young people have the potential to be Africa’s greatest asset if they can learn the skills to make a meaningful contribution.

In the last edition of African Frontiers of Innovationbrought to you by the world leader in imaging cannon ( Kenyan author of #YouthCan, Lizz Ntonjira and Nigerian Youth Advocate Dr. Babangida Ruma joined moderator and broadcaster Victoria Rubadiri to unpack youth skills development in the region.

The winner African Frontiers of Innovation aims to inspire creative solutions to the continent’s contemporary challenges. “In light of the recent United Nations World Youth Skills Day, we wanted to reimagine the future of Africa’s next generation,” said Mai Youssef, director of corporate communications at Canon.

Unemployment is one of the greatest challenges facing young people. According to the World Bank ( North Africa and the Middle East are the regions with the highest youth unemployment. Further south, youth unemployment stood at 64% ( in South Africa in 2021.

COVID-19 has worsened the situation, disrupting education and training programs. It has also caused huge job losses that have hit young people the hardest, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). Unemployment exacerbates the existing skills gap. “Without work, opportunities for skills development are limited. The importance of finding ways to give young people work experience cannot be overemphasized,” Rubadiri stressed.

The digital divide is another factor; young people in communities with limited technology are being left behind. “For Africa to successfully participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, our young people need digital skills and infrastructure,” Dr Ruma said. Despite the challenges, there are several viable options for young people to develop their skills, including mentoring, public-private partnerships, and leveraging available resources, including free training and rewards programs.

First, there has been a resounding call to update education across the continent. “Some courses are 30 years old, but the professions have evolved. We need to start developing these in-demand skills from an early age,” Ntonjira said. “Learners are led to believe that if they study hard, they will get a good job when they leave school or college. Then when they graduate and they can’t find a job, they’re told to be an entrepreneur, but they haven’t been taught any business skills.

Mentoring is something Ntonjira is passionate about. She founded the Lizz Ntonjira Network ( to inspire young people and create more opportunities. “Learning and mentoring does not happen enough in the African context.” Ntonjira challenged the business community to find ways to include young people and applauded Canon’s student development program ( which connects 100 image makers each year in grass – from Africa, the Middle East and Europe – with leaders in the imaging industry.

She advises mentees to be candid. “Be proactive, seek out suitable mentors, learn from them and make connections.”

Public-private partnerships work. Canon’s Miraisha program is a good example; to date, it has trained more than 5,850 participants from disadvantaged communities in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire with practical, marketable imaging skills.

Hundreds of Miraisha graduates have found jobs or paid commissions. Some have started their own business. Over 250 have received awards or industry recognition and 20 graduates are now employed by Canon as trainers. “African youth can play a key role in business creation, job creation, value creation and innovation – things that Africa desperately needs,” Youssef said. “Miraisha gives them the skills, resources and support to harness the power of imagery and see their ideas come to life.”

This is one of many free or low-cost training opportunities. “Google offers quality digital skills training free online,” said Dr. Ruma, who founded the Digital Skills Bank to bridge the gap between job seekers and job providers. “When completed, there are millions of opportunities for digital-savvy Africans.”

Ntonjira agrees: “A lot of people have achieved a lot with very little, just by using social media to create their own brands and content.” Overall, it was important for young people to be proactive. “Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s a learning lesson,” Ntonjira explained.

Canon remains deeply committed to the development of young people in Africa. “Working with the world’s top creatives, our partnerships and educational programs connect, inspire and empower. We work to provide skills and opportunities that change lives, the planet and our future for the better,” Youssef said.

by Cannon African Frontiers of Innovation will explore a different contemporary issue each month. To join the conversation, follow Canon ( on LinkedIn ( or Facebook (

Click here to watch the full session –


Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA).

For media inquiries, please contact:
Canon Central and North Africa
Mai Youssef

APO Group – PR Agency
Rania ElRafie

About Canon Central and North Africa:
Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) ( is a division of Canon Middle East FZ LLC (CME), a subsidiary of Canon Europe. The formation of CCNA in 2015 was a strategic step that aimed to improve Canon’s business in the Africa region – strengthening Canon’s presence and focus in the country. CCNA also demonstrates Canon’s commitment to getting closer to its customers and meeting their demands in the rapidly changing African market.

Canon has been represented on the African continent for over 15 years through distributors and partners who have successfully built a strong customer base in the region. CCNA guarantees the supply of high quality and technologically advanced products that meet the demands of Africa’s rapidly changing market. With over 100 employees, CCNA manages sales and marketing activities in 44 countries in Africa.

Canon’s corporate philosophy is Kyosei ( – “living and working together for the common good”. CCNA pursues sustainable business growth, focusing on reducing its own environmental impact and helping customers reduce theirs by using Canon products, solutions and services. At Canon, we are pioneers, constantly redefining the world of imaging for the greater good. Through our technology and our spirit of innovation, we push the boundaries of what’s possible – helping us see our world in ways we’ve never seen before. We help bring creativity to life, one image at a time. Because when we can see our world, we can change it for the better.

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About African Innovation Frontiers:
The African Frontiers of Innovation The series has been hosted by Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) ( since 2020. It brings together influential scholars and pioneers of change to discuss innovation, opportunities and challenges that have a impact on the African continent. The series recently received a Certificate of Excellence as part of the Provoke 2022 Africa SABER Awards.

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