The French development agency (Agence Française de Développement) estimates that 60% of Africans are now under 24 and 35% of the world's young people will be in Africa by 2035.

According to the International Monetary Fund, nearly 20 million jobs will need to be created each year in Africa to accommodate these new workers, instead of the 10 million currently being created each year.

Studies show that in Senegal, young women are the most affected by a lack of access to employment. A recent study by the International Labour Organization showed that Internet access and training in information and communication technology allow local women to start businesses, sell their products, find better-paying jobs and access education, health and financial services.

In response to the pressing issue of job creation, Thales Solidarity and Polaris Asso, in partnership with the Embassy of France in Senegal and UN Women, are teaming up to launch a new programme to help young Senegalese women pursue digital careers.

The six-month programme combines the expertise of various associations to give scholarship recipients the best possible chances of entering and remaining in the labour market, either as employees or entrepreneurs, and to develop their skills as local leaders.

In addition to the main programme sponsors mentioned above, other organisations are also participating in the initiative. These include:
  • OpenClassrooms
  • Talent2Africa, and
  • the Senegal Youth Consortium (Consortium Jeunesse Sénégal).
Ousseynou Gueye, executive director of Polaris Asso, says that the initiative is a major innovation for French-speaking Africa.

Gueye adds, "This programme is designed to train young Senegalese women in digital technology and encourage the new talents Africa needs for its development: women with the key skills for the 21st century who are engaged citizens dedicated to addressing social issues. Through this programme, we are giving them the tools they need to play an active role in the digital transition the country’s economy needs to achieve sustainable growth."

Contributing to the digital transformation of local businesses
During their training, scholarship recipients will learn about the importance of digital citizenship and volunteer to lead digital education workshops for local middle and high school students.

They will also contribute to the development of the local economy through tutoring projects and hands-on internships where they can apply the skills they learn in their training and acquire professional experience in women-led SMEs.

Roselyne Cartheron, director of Thales West and Central Africa, says, "Thales has made a clear social commitment to promoting the inclusion of women. We are, therefore, very honoured to participate in this professional integration project through the Thales Solidarity charitable fund."

"We would like to support these young women by giving them skills and teaching them to become digital citizens so they can make a difference in Senegal and beyond. This initiative reflects the Thales purpose of building a future we can all trust," Cartheron adds.

According to the duo, the launch of the first group of scholarship recipients is in celebration of International Women's Day.

After selecting the first 50 scholarship recipients for the pilot phase of the programme in January 2022, a kick-off ceremony was held on Monday, 28 March at the Résidence de France in Dakar.

At the event, alongside H.E. Philippe Lalliot, the French ambassador to Senegal, was professor Ismaïla Madior Fall, the state minister to the president of the Republic of Senegal. He expressed the government of Senegal's appreciation for this programme, which will contribute to addressing the critical problem of unemployment in the country.

The event, which took place under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, was attended by several diplomatic delegations present in Senegal as well as Thales employees, represented by Roselyne Cartheron (director of Thales West and Central Africa) and Yan Levy (director of strategy and business development, Africa).

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