Life Matters | Mar 06,2021
Orange, a French multinational telecommunications corporation and one of the potential bidders to secure a telecom license in Ethiopia, has launched a digital centre in the Ethio ICT Park. Orange Digital Centre Ethiopia will work on promoting digital skills, supporting job creation, and encouraging youth participation in innovation.
Orange, which reported a turnover of 42 billion euros in 2019, launched the Centre as a nonprofit organisation funded by the German Development Agency (GIZ). The Centre, which is also part of a network of 32 Orange Digital Centres located across Africa, the Middle East and Europe, is the third in Africa after Tunisia and Senegal.
The launching was attended by Abraham Belay, minister of Innovation & Technology, Lelise Neme, commissioner of the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Sandokan Debebe, the CEO of the Industrial Parks Development Corporation, and the German and French ambassadors to Ethiopia. The centre is housed at the ICT Park located close to Bole Lemi Industrial Park, which is considered Ethiopia's Silicon Valley. The ICT Park is currently a home of private operators such as ZTW, Techno Mobile and Security Innovation Network, among others.
The Digital Centre consists of three components: a coding school; FabLab Solidaire, a digital manufacturing laboratory; Orange Fab, a startup accelerator; and an investment fund dubbed Orange Ventures Africa. The coding school, which currently has 25 trainees, is equipped with computers and software that Orange will use to provide both graduates and non-graduates with training and workshops on computer programming, cybersecurity and soft skills.
There are different application criteria for trainees to enroll depending on their status, according to Meron Bekele, director of the coding school.
Orange is one of the 11 companies that showed interest in becoming one of the two new operators that will receive full-service telecommunications licenses as part of the government's liberalisation of the telecom sector. The winners are expected to be announced on April 5, 2021.
The centre will recruit unemployed students or graduates as interns; moreover, short-term training programmes are available to the general public without any stringent restrictions.
The FabLab Solidaire is part of a worldwide network of spaces that offer trainees the opportunity to create digital hardware using equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters. The manufacturing laboratory offers training sessions, boot camps, and support programmes for innovators. Seven trainees are currently utilising these services.
The Orange Fab accelerator is part of an international network that helps incubated startups grow by fostering commercial partnerships at the national and international levels. Orange Ventures Africa is a 50-million-euro investment fund used to finance tech startups in the continent.
Markos Lemma, co-founder and manager of ICE Addis, explains that the Centre is crucial for the country. It provides basic skills to young industry amateurs and that it is instrumental because it will pave the way for the trainees to develop their own hardware. Overall, the centre will increase the value of ICT in Ethiopia, and after the trainees enter the system, it will play a large role in shifting the ICT sector one step forward, remarked Markos.
Henok Ephrem, a computer science lecturer at Debre Birhan University, highlighted that the Centre is notable in that it will provide access to equipment that is not readily available at higher education institutions.
Orange Digital Centre has plans to replicate its training services in cities and universities across the country over the coming months.
Orange is the latest in a series of international firms to set foot in the ICT Park. In November last year, four companies, Wingu.africa, Raxio Data Plc, RedFox Web Solution and ScutiX, were allotted land at the Park to construct data centres. Wingu broke ground on the construction of its data centre last month.
PUBLISHED ON Feb 27,2021 [ VOL 21 , NO 1087]
Life Matters | Mar 06,2021
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