Bridging digital gaps for Malawi’s youths

Up until November last year, 30-year-old Ruth Kazembe, a Development Facilitator at Salvation Army in Karonga district was not conversant with several computer programs, a gap that was making her work somehow difficult, in this age of technology.

Back then, Kazembe of Malindi Village in the area Traditional Authority Mpama in Chiradzulu district could not come up with a pictorial presentation let alone a standard PowerPoint presentation.

“In those days, I could type a word document but then there were a lot of things I couldn’t do. I was very slow and could not do simple things like putting words in bold and italic formats. With the nature of my job, I was so eager to learn these things,” Kazembe said.

Now, the good news is that her computer knowledge has improved after attending a digital skills training.

The journey to this started with a message from a WhatsApp group. The message was a call to interested youths to undergo a digital skills training organized by Mzuzu Entrepreneur Hub. Since she has always, wanted to improve her computer skills she decided not to let this opportunity pass her.

“Since I had little knowledge with computers I immediately, applied for the training. Time passed. I even forgot having applied for the training. Then I received a call notifying me that my application was successful,” she said.

She then attended a six-week long training. At the training, she learnt several skills ranging from graphic designing, website designing, end user computing, photography and videography, data management, digital marketing and computer coding.

From the time she attended the training, Kazembe testifies that she has benefitted a lot. She now boasts of having improved computer skills, which are helping her a lot in executing her daily duties.

“My work involves writing reports every month and this time around my typing is very fast,” she said. “I am now able to write presentations that look more professional. I am also able to write pictorial presentations, and the list of what I am now capable of is endless.”

The knowledge she gained, is bringing many opportunities for Ruth both at work and her personal life.

“At work, I now receive a lot of opportunities as a result of my computer skills and I am able to do my work with confidence. It gives me pride to be considered for these opportunities. It is an indication that I am good at what I do,” Kazembe said.

“On my personal life, the skills have helped me utilize several digital platforms and motivated me in such a way that one day; I intend to open my own company that will be offering various computer services, which will help me create job opportunities. I have already started saving funds for that,” she said.

Furthermore, Kazembe now feels she is better positioned to get jobs easily the day she will decide to apply for one with other organizations, as she now possess one of the most sought after required skill for employers these days, which is computer skills.

Realizing that we are now living in a digital world, Kazembe shares her new acquired knowledge with others so that they, too, should be moving with the world. Currently, she has trained one person who had zero computer knowledge and plans to train more.

“Things are going digital and youths need to take advantage of opportunities coming their way by ensuring that they acquire digital skills. What we are learning will be skills that will benefit us in the near future, so I am contributing to bridging the computer illiteracy gap,” she said.

In the meantime, while waiting to put his plan in motion, she is hungering for more, as she wants to become an expert in website designing, as last time she did not grasp all the basics due to limited training time and trainers.

Said Kazembe; “I am looking to have another opportunity like this one, so I can perfect my skills especially on website designing. What I would like to ask Mzuzu Entrepreneur Hub is that in the future, they should allocate enough time to such trainings so that participants learn all the basics at one training. They should also increase the number of trainers.”