The skills of the future (Part 4)

The skills of the future (Part 4)

__Serious business, and some serious fun, too!

In the past few weeks I’ve told you about Muzinda Hub, the coding school we first launched in Zimbabwe in 2014. Today I want to tell you about “21CSkills”, a cutting edge initiative of Liquid Telecom built in partnership with Microsoft. 21CSkills (21st Century Skills) is a free online learning platform for African students, start-ups and developers specially designed to offer training and certifications in skills of the future like data science, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, game development (coming soon) and much more…

I want some of you especially in the #SeniorClassto take a few of these courses and come back at the end of this year and tell me what you think, what you learned, and how these new skills helped you grow and #ReImagine your businesses! You can find out more here:

Now some of you may wonder how such amazing online training has become available in recent years. The short answer is: high-speed Internet connectivity. 

Never before in history have people of all ages across Africa and the world been able to study and acquire cutting edge skills of the future from world class educators, without having to fly to distant lands. Young people like some of you may not realize how truly amazing this is!

__What is that in your hand? I have said it so many times and I will say it again: If you use it wisely, it can take you, your education and your business places like never before. Please don’t waste its power. Some of us have worked very hard over the years to make it possible… 

I have told you on this platform since 2013 about my dream to create a Cape to Cairo by fibre network, and most of you know it completed late last year. That was amazing but building Africa’s digital future is an ongoing #process. Our Liquid Telecom teams are still busy connecting (countries, businesses and people) across the continent, as I write today!

Beyond Cape to Cairo, our “One Africa” broadband network now links many countries in east, central and southern Africa through 70,000km of fibre. The westward journey is also underway (you saw me in DRC and Angola a few weeks ago), with the cable being extended across Central Africa.

__When that link is completed, we will have built the first terrestrial network linking together all four corners of the continent!

This is what I mean by building Africa’s century and if you acquire the 21CSkills you need, it’s great news for visionary entrepreneurs like you who want to use the Internet to build and scale your own businesses across the continent and the world. The rest is up to you. We’ve done our part.

#SeniorClass: here’s something for you. Check out two cool competitions and tell me what you think. One is called “Data Hack for Financial Inclusion” (DataHack4FI) and the other is Zindi Africa. Both are initiatives supported by Liquid Telecom/21CSkills partnerships and focus on inspiring savvy young people like you to use the power of data to find answers and solve problems in ways never #imagined before. 

Prepare to compete if you dare! 

Liquid Telecom also has a great new partnership now with University of Johannesburg to launch a research and technology center focused on digital innovation that will offer 4IR courses like the ones I mentioned above. They will also award bursaries to support promising young students at UJ to learn the skills of the future there. There are a lot of great things happening and I’m really proud of the young teams in our Group who are putting all this together.

As I told a few of you here earlier, I ran into my dear friend Makhtar Diop of the World Bank a few weeks ago at a wedding in Rwanda. We had a cup of coffee and started chatting about, you guessed it… Artificial Intelligence. His parting words to me were:

“My brother, this is very, very serious. Do everything you can to get the brothers and sisters on the continent to get their minds around AI!”

You can see we ARE taking this very very seriously! What about you?

To be continued. . .

Author:Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.

26 Replies to “The skills of the future (Part 4)”

  1. Afterthought 2.
    #SeniorClass: when you look up DataHack4FI and Zindi competitions, please share here with others on the platform what’s so innovative about what they are trying to do, and why they’re awesome and even fun ways to learn and practice serious data analytical skills for the future.

  2. #ShoutOut to Ben and Helinna!

    One day I was speaking to African students and professionals at Yale University in the US. After I finished most of them crowded around me for the customary chat. One young lady from Ethiopia made a simple pitch to me:
    “Mr Masiyiwa, it’s time for me to get home to Africa; I will work anywhere and do any kind of job that takes me home”. She said it with such determination.
    So I tested her:
    “We have no operation in Ethiopia. Can you go to Zimbabwe?”
    “Yes, I will,” she said firmly.
    “I don’t promise you a job, but you can travel to SA for an interview”.
    Within weeks she had passed an interview and began her career in our group.
    Today she works in Nairobi under Ben the head of Innovation at Liquid.
    Together they created The 21C Skills Initiative. It is her program!

    As an entrepreneur, I’m always looking for that rare gem out there like Helinna.
    They will build Africa’s century!

  3. #Shout Out Dezzy!

    One of our most promising executives is a young woman from Nigeria, called “Dezzy”!
    We recruited her from University. She has just spent 5 years working for Cassava Fintech in South Africa.
    She has led a team that has developed the next generation of EcoCash. It will be smarter, faster and more powerful. It will be the first of its kind for Africa.

    It will be available in just two days on the App Store. I have given you a heads up!

    Thanks Dezzy, and all the team!

  4. #Pause:

    Africa is still the toughest environment for entrepreneurs!

    In everything I write, I’m always aware that some of you operate in the toughest environment [for entrepreneurs] in the world. It is just a fact.
    Mostly it is because of the policy environment [or the lack of an enabling environment ] in which we have to operate.

    Many African entrepreneurs are forced to operate in truly terrible conditions.
    The worst conditions for entrepreneurs is where there is high or even hyper inflation. As I have said before, and will say it again:
    “Any policy that creates high inflation is injustice to the poor, because it wipes away savings, and destroys incomes.”

    I have also counseled and will continue to counsel that:
    “As entrepreneurs we do not fight the conditions, but fight in the conditions.”

    Finally, let me also remind you:
    The situation and the challenges you face today may be so intense and discouraging that reading about something that appears futurist like Artificial Intelligence [AI] seems so far away or even disconnected, when all you want is to put bread on the table.

    #Not so!

    Reid Hoffman the great American entrepreneur and founder of LinkedIn, describes the entrepreneur as someone who must build a business, after jumping from an aero plane without a parachute!
    This means that even with the greatest challenges and crises don’t let it drive you to such despair and discouragement that you can no longer hope, and plan for a better time. It will come!

  5. #Reflection:

    The “sound of money”!

    When you list a company on a Stock Exchange, there is a ritual for the CEO and CFO every six months [3 in the US]; when you have to go and “report to the Institutional investors”. These are the guys with the #Big Monéh, ehehe!

    It was 2000, and my company had been listed for two years. We were doing really well for an African company, and I was invited to London. The investors there are collectively called “The City”. These guys control Trillions of dollars.
    Getting an audience with some of the key players signifies that you have arrived!

    In 2000 most of the African players came from South Africa, you could count off your hand companies from Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. It has improved a lot and there are now several dozen [with Mauritius and Ghana now sending companies] but SA still dominates. Zimbabwe no longer goes [we were banished from the club
    of money].

    For a company listed in Africa, The Middle East, Latin America or Asia; the City is a big, big deal: period!
    There, “money talks”!

    When a government needs to borrow money through “Eurobonds” it goes to The City. I have seen Finance Ministers sweat!

    When I arrived in 2000, I was suddenly and unexpectedly invited to meet a “City Grandee” [“Big Boy”]. He was chairman of one of the biggest banks in the world:

    This surprised me, because they do not meet “small guys”. I was a “small guy”!

    As I walked into the room he made a loud sucking noise with with his mouth and hands:
    “That, my boy is the sound of money leaving your country.” He said in a matter of fact way. Then invited me politely to sit down. He even gave me lunch.
    I did not make a pitch about my company, or say a thing about my country, because I already understood the situation. It was not of my making, and I had no influence. It was “game over”!

    We soon switched topic to a bit of sport, and afterwards I left.

    If you are going to play in a game, you must know its rules:
    You must also know when the game has been lost, even if the whistle has not yet sounded.

    One of the worst things you can do is to send amateurs to play against professionals, even when they tell you, they know how to play in the big league.

  6. #Pause:

    Your secrets are safe with me, even if you hate me!

    The privacy of a customer’s telephone data is sacrosanct to us:

    Many years ago, I had a very powerful detractor [in one of the countries where we operate] who hated me passionately.

    This guy got into a dispute with some equally powerful guys in a matter which had nothing to do with us. They wanted to take him down almost at any cost!

    One night I got a call from an engineer at the operation telling me that this guy’s detractors had approached them with a request for us to help them clandestinely track this guy down using his phone. They assumed that since this guy hated me, I would authorize this illegal tap.
    I told the engineer I would fire him and his colleagues on the spot if they did it!

    Then I warned him, “suppose they use that tracking to kill this guy; will you accept his blood on your hands?!”

    Before we ever allow anyone including authorities like the police or even army in a country to get customer data, we insist on a Court Order signed by a judge.

    And even then no single person in our company can authorize the release of the customer data.

    We do not as a network operator have the capacity to listen to a customer call. We never specify such equipment.

    It does not prevent governments from installing special interception equipment themselves where the laws allows them.

  7. #Today’s Masiyiwa Entrepreneurship Law [MLE]:

    Three in one:

    “The purpose of God is not established in the anger of man”.

    And the next is like unto it:

    “The purpose of God is not established in the pride of man”.

    And then finally:
    “The purpose of God is not established in the impatience of man”.
    ~Strive Masiyiwa

    As long as I’m angry, full of pride, or impatience, God is not in it!

    There are so many times I see something that makes me so angry, but a still small voice says to me, “Put away the anger, if you want Me to help you…”

    Sometimes I feel my pride has been wounded, or someone is taking advantage of me. And just when I declare war, or say something like:
    “No one does that to me! Do you know who I am?!”

    Again the same little voice, “Your pride is blinding you, and you will not SEE until you get rid of it. The purpose of God requires total humility.”

    And when I’m getting impatient, I’m reminded that “Nothing starts until I have demonstrated patience…”

  8. Panashe Nyatsunga writes,

    but Mr Masiyiwa how do fight criticism as an entrepreneur?

    My reply,
    There are two types of criticism:

    #1. Customer criticism of products and services. Every good business has a system for listening to and engaging customers. One of the first things we do as a business is to have a number [Call Center] for customers to complain.

    #2. Criticism from detractors:
    As your profile grows, you may personally find yourself the target of detractors motivated by jealousy or hatred. My advice to you on that count, is never to give them a hearing:
    ~Don’t listen to them, read or even follow what they say on Social Media. Nothing ever turns on what such people say about anything.

  9. Andy Asefa writes,

    Why don’t you start operation in Ethiopia?! I think it’s the right time.

    My reply,
    We do not have a license to operate in Ethiopia.
    Although there is a new law to liberalize telecoms, it has not yet happened.
    It takes time for such a process.
    PM Abiy is trying very hard to make it easier for investors.
    We appreciate this.
    One day we shall come.

  10. Blessing Mutore writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa talking about learning online courses…someone a few months ago said to me “Strive Masiyiwa is a thief…they steal from people “…then i wondered how far true was thwt…i came to this platform seeking if these things are true…to be perfectly honest with you sir…you are a visionary and i have since applied all your teachings to the things that i do…i would ignore messages sent to my phone about Akello…oneday i opened up the links and saw a few courses done there…and you know what they were free…i decided to just try out one…i did and i tried out two courses…you know what…i did Photography and Financial trading and investment with Akello online and from my phone(what i had in my hand) right now am still trading on demo accounts,but you know what…i have never made a loss…and in the Photography industry am making #PROGRESS for your own record i went to medical school and did a branch of medicine called Medical Rehabilitation…but now am trading and doing Photography…thank you for these online courses sir… “learning never exhaust the mind”

    My Photography pages


    My reply,
    Thank you for this kind remark.

    Let me tell you a story:
    When my wife and I started Higher Life, we were so concerned that very few people thanked us for helping them. We would meet people that we assisted, and they would simply tell us that we funded their education but forget even to say “thank you.”
    Many people even accused us of having ulterior motives. Even though we were helping people all over Africa.

    It was quite hurtful.

    Often I thought to just stop and quietly enjoy my money as so many people do.

    Then one day I prayed and fasted about it, and soon I found peace with what came into my heart:

    “When you do it, do it for ME”.

    Helping young people or responding to someone in need [like those Cyclone victims]; is my own way of saying “thank you”, to The Lord for all He has done for me.

    God bless you.

  11. Mary Maganga Kassindi writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa your welcome to invest in #Tanzania, currently we have vodacome, halotel, airtel & tigo, so is good & nice to have econet too

    My reply,
    We own a company called Raha which is based in Dar Es Salaam.

  12. #ShoutOut to Rachel:

    Strive Masiyiwa Thank you for being there for us.This forum means alot to me.I would not like to miss any post from you.Sometimes the posts are deep.I dont understand them..but I read and reread and eventually catch up from the senior class members.Last week family members summoned and told me that am wasting money and time on people and asked me whether its a show off or am intending to join politics.I felt offended.Its true I earn peanuts but in my own little way I reach out to the needy and vulnerable out of which I get peace.I locked up myself in the house and cried.By reading your response to #Blessingmutore you have oiled my spirit once more.Do not get weary of doing good Sir Chief..In due time you shall be rewarded.Do not get weary of writing these encouraging posts.May the Lord bless and keep you.
    Thank you.

    My reply,
    I always enjoy reading your comments.
    You have become my sister through your devotion in commenting.

    You know I never intended to go on for so long. I thought I would do it for a year or two. At one time I even gave notice that I would soon shut down the platform.
    It was commentators like you that kept me going!

  13. Izuchukwu Bernard Louis Egwu writes,

    Sir,are you sidelining Nigeria in this beneficial programme.

    My reply,
    21 C Skills is an initiative of Liquid Telecom Kenya. Liquid has been in Kenya for more than five years.
    Kenya is the second largest market for the Liquid business, after South Africa.
    You can access 21 C Skills from any country in Africa because it Online.

    Liquid has built a network from Sudan to Nigeria, through Chad. This will be operational before the end of this year.
    As we begin to build a profitable business in Nigeria, we will use some of those profits to support Nigerian versions of 21 C Skills, and even Muzinda Hub.

    I hope that in the spirit of a “One Africa”, you will not always see things as valuable only when they come to your own country.

  14. Blessings Nkhamanga writes,

    Sir Strive Masiyiwa, we are proud of the lessons you teach us here on this platform because of their usefulness to everyone regardless of the industry they are in. As I like to read business news, I bumped into a story on Gulf News about IKEA opening its largest shop in United Arab Emirates, located in South Dubai. Since I had no idea of what IKEA is all about, I searched and found out it’s company that designs and sell ready to assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and other household stuff. But what I loved most is the fact that IKEA was founded in 1940s by a 17 year old carpenter in Sweden!!! As of 2015 , he was among the top ten richest people in the world with a net worth of $40 billion, according to Forbes . Then I just recalled what you like to say, ” It really doesn’t matter what industry you are in, opportunities are the same, just add a little innovation “. Keep on teaching us Sir!!

    My reply,
    I agree with everything you say!
    I know the IKEA guy’s quite well and we have been working on a number of initiatives together. They are also keen to help young African entrepreneurs.
    They follow our platform!

  15. Sparrow du Lake writes,

    Chief, about DataHack4FI; its Season 3 presented data enthusiasts with the opportunity to improve their knowledge/skills and achieve an accredited data science qualification by enrolling in the Microsoft Professional Program in Data Science. The following candidates have successfully completed the 10 prerequisite course modules (before the 7th March 2019 deadline), meeting the requirements to enrol in the CAPSTONE project where they will apply their skills to a practical case study. So far there are

    Data enthusiasts who successfully complete the CAPSTONE project will be awarded the official Microsoft certification. The top performing candidates from each country will then be paired with an emerging technology company to collaborate in the design of innovative products/services that advance financial or economic inclusion. So far there are 347 enrollments and 164 completed projects in 10+ modules. It is said to be a competition that will project developers that will help in contributing to build Africa’s silicon valley.

    On the other hand is a social enterprise whose mission is to build the data science ecosystem in Africa. Our vision is for a vibrant community of data scientists across Africa, mobilized towards solving the region’s most pressing problems.

    We are a team of data scientists and creators based in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Accra committed to a better Africa. There competition cuts across
    1. Farm pin crop detection challenge
    2. Xente fraud detection challenge
    3. AI art (my favorite)
    4. Mtoto news childline kenya call volume prediction challenge.
    5. CMU Africa data science club challenge: computer vision for image classification.
    6. Data science Nigeria challenge : loan default prediction.
    7. Data science Nigeria. Challenge 2: recommendation engine for comedy TV in Nigeria.
    8. Traffic jam: predicting peoples movement into Nairobi.
    9. Mobile money and financial inclusion in Tanzania challenge.
    10. Sea turtle rescue: error detection challenge.
    11. Sustainable development goals (SDGs): text classification challenge.
    12. Social media prediction challenge.
    13. Busara mental health prediction challenge.
    This challenges are aimed at discovering talented minds that can set the pace in these AI sub sector industries of the computer technology industry.

    My reply,
    As I said in another comment, I really want to give this work a full #ShoutOut!
    It is one of those initiatives which led me to jump up in the air with excitement.

  16. Kagaba writes,

    DataHack4FI(Datahack gor financial inclusion ) is a regional innovation competition that brings together African businesses in data science to develop solutions that promote financial inclusion.
    It is designed to assist private financial institutions like financial technology companies and other financial service providers to use data to promote the spread of financial services to people who are currently excluded

    Zindi is the first data science competition platform in Africa. … For data scientists, from newbies to rock stars, Zindi is a place to access African datasets and solve African problems.

    My reply,
    This just goes to remind us of the old saying:

    “If a tree falls in the forest, where there is no one nearby to hear it; does it make a noise.”

    ~There are many beautiful and profound things going on every day in Africa, that will shape our future. This is one of them!
    Take heed.

  17. Austin Uzim writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa Breaking Fake news. Leah Sharibu is not dead.

    I’ve got my ears and eyes on issues concerning Leah that I’m almost certain when a fake news is spread about her.

    Even Reno Omokiri had this to say about the fake news spreading around:

    I’ve been informed by 2 journalists with access to Boko Haram that the faction claiming Leah is dead is NOT the one that abducted and holds her. I‘m told Leah is ALIVE. I put aside my differences with Gen @MBuhari and VOW not to oppose him going forward if he‘ll #FreeLeahSharibu

    My reply,
    Thank you Austin.
    We must continue to pray for Leah Sharibu.
    I pray for her every single day.

  18. #ShoutOut!

    Losioki Somoire writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa
    Visit Kenya, i am establishing a college for the Maasai community, which i come from.
    Indeed technology is everything.
    I picked the challenge here on your posts 3 years ago while in campus and now here it is
    Thanks for your sharing.

    My reply,
    Well done!
    #Builder of Modern Africa award!

  19. Jerry Musungo writes,

    Strive Masiyiwa her story is truly inspiring. There truly is no shortage of opportunity. Just wrong attitudes

    My reply,
    We change “wrong attitudes” through “right attitudes”.
    The Apostle Peter said “focus on doing the right thing.”

  20. #Keeping my mind busy!

    Here is something I have been studying:

    4 – 5 cows produce enough methane gas for 1 kW

    so 50 cows produce 5 kW

    100 cows produce 10 kW

    1000 cows produce 100 kW

    10000 cows produce a 1 MW

    How much power is that?

    You can provide power to an entire town with 1MW!


    Here is the link to the NTV [Kenya] clip I saw on the Flexi Gas system, there are several others that are longer and more detailed and also show his newer versions.

    [I watched this whilst waiting for a flight the other day. Really inspiring.]

    I’m totally intrigued by this concept!

    Agric Entreprenuers can provide our power?

    Imagine if a young entrepreneur developed a system to collect cow dung every week, dry it, and use it to power biogas generators instead of grinding mills!
    Yes, every village could have its own biogas generator for electricity and cooking gas!
    We do not even have to reinvent the wheel, just go on the Internet and study what is happening in China and India!

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