The City of Joburg has launched a programme to Educate Digital Interns (COJEDI) in innovative modern age skills as part of the foundation phase of developing the Johannesburg smart city plan. The City has engaged the partnership of FiberCo, Microsoft, Cisco, Technology Innovation Agency and Nunnovation Africa Foundation to upskill and train 1000 of the City’s brightest young information technology (IT) minds.
The COJEDI programme focuses on driving innovation and entrepreneurship through critical thinking, preparing students for employment and empowering them to significantly participate in the mainstream of the ICT sector and the burgeoning economy.
The City has developed a strong broadband connectivity around its local communities and the only challenge face is that there are not enough human resources to maintain the infrastructure, let alone the necessary skills to effectively sustain the connectivity to be effective.
These students are being prepared to effectively meet the demands of connectivity which underpins the development of smart cities. These young people will also have an opportunity to explore smart cities connectivity in developed countries, exposing them to innovation and an innovative mind-set.
At the launch of the programme, Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Parks Tau stated that, “this programme will go a long way in improving IT skills and expertise in Johannesburg. It provides a superb opportunity for some of our brightest minds to learn the skills they will need to be more employable in future.”
The first cohorts of students are currently undergoing a concentrated detailed 4 month technical training programme. Mr. Zolani Matebese, the head of broadband at the City of Johannesburg, says that the City’s investment is significant not only in terms of financial outlay, but that it has significant potential to transform the lives of the interns and people in the city.
There is much excitement building as there are up-coming technologies that will require the skills of the new trained participants. The City of Johannesburg is seeking to become a smart city in terms of its technological capabilities and the "digital interns" will be a catalyst to this as industry assimilation is currently underway to ensure that innovation occurs to transform the landscape of the city. Much awaits the future of the city and this program is the birthplace or urban renewal that will transform and enable Johannesburg to be the leading smart city in Africa
With ICT earmarked as a National Development Plan critical enabler, it then becomes important for skills transfer and training to occur. The COJEDI programme is on track to contributing youth employment, entrepreneurship and innovation to South Africa’s ICT sector.