In Partnership With GIZ: Orange Liberia Foundation Launches Digital Center For Young Liberians

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Orange Foundation, in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), has announced a partnership for the establishment of an Orange Digital Center in Liberia.  Financial support for the project comes from both the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Orange.  In addition to Liberia, the center is being implemented in 13 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The overall project in Africa will cost approximately 30 million Euros, and is aimed at promoting employment, entrepreneurship and digital innovation skills amongst young people. 

   In Liberia, the Orange Digital Center (ODC) will introduce and make otherwise unavailable or unaffordable cutting-edge technologies available to young people. Sara Elizabeth Buchanan, Executive Director of Orange Foundation & Orange Digital Center, emphasizes that the project is intended to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing opportunities to train young people in coding and provide funding and support for ideas they have around developing digital businesses. She said the long-term goal is to give young Liberians the chance to compete in an increasingly digital world. 

   Mathias Schroeder, Project Director of GIZ in Liberia, emphasized that the project had been developed to assuage the increasing vulnerabilities young people face as a result of massive unemployment. “By promoting the development of digital technologies, GIZ and Orange Foundation offer opportunities for young people to find jobs within various companies,” said Schroeder. He noted that while all genders would participate in the project, specific steps would be taken to encourage the full participation of young women.  

   The ODC takes a multipronged approach in addressing youth unemployment and access to technology. In addition to a coding school, the ODC provides several opportunities for digital skills training, acceleration of innovative start-ups, and making financial investments in project leaders.  

   All of these will be executed under one of four thematic umbrellas: The Coding School, FabLab, Orange Fab, and Orange Ventures Africa.  The following are detailed activities under each thematic area: The coding school—a technological center free and open for all, offers training, events and support for developers, geeks and project idea bearers; and The FabLabSolidaire—a digital manufacturing workshop (maker space) for creating and prototyping with digital equipment, including three dimensional printers (3D printers) and laser cutters.  There is already a global and growing network of 129 FabLabsSolidaires. 

   Finally, Orange Fab and Orange Ventures Africa are programs that target entrepreneurs. The first is a start-up accelerator that accompanies the most promising youths in their commercial development and also helps them build commercial partnerships with the Orange Group and the global network of Orange Fabs. The second, Orange Ventures Africa, is a €50 million investment fund that finances innovative start-ups in countries on the African continent and in the Middle East region.

   More information about the Orange Digital Center project can be found on www.orange.com/en/orange-digital-center-committed-digital-equality.

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