Safaricom creates engineering talent pipeline


Smartphone with logo of Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom PLC. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Telecommunications firm Safaricom has created an engineering talent pipeline to meet its own needs and help tackle unemployment among the nation’s young people.

Appearing on NTV’s Trend programme, Safaricom ICT director, Mr George Njuguna highlighted how the firm is showcasing the country’s rich pool of software engineering talent.

He revealed that Safaricom is creating a community of engineers in the country, a drive that kicked off when the firm hosted its engineering summit, Decode. The first edition brought on board 5,000 engineers. The number has since grown to more than 6,500.

“We are looking to hit 10,000 in the next four to five months,” said an optimistic Mr Njuguna.

Naisenya Mungai added that the firm will also upskill and certify 1,400 youths on the in-demand skills set. It will also offer them employment opportunities not just at Safaricom, but also with partners such as Google, Microsoft, AWS, KCB and Equity – straight from campus.

Ms Mungai revealed, that, “Most of us, myself included, started our careers at Safaricom as interns.”

She was studying Electrical Telecommunications Engineering at Moi University and met members of Safaricom Women in Technology. She joined Safaricom as an intern and as she explains, her career took off. After rising through the ranks, she is the Technical Tribe Lead for Digital Transformation for Safaricom and also the Safaricom Engineering Community Lead as well as the Creative Director for the Safaricom Engineering Summit.

Safaricom Decode serves as a platform to showcase engineering excellence, cutting-edge technology advancements, and thought leadership while also emphasising alignment with national strategies, the promotion of financial inclusion and the responsible use of technology – all in pursuit of shaping Kenya’s digital future.

Mr Njuguna explained that M-PESA Daraja is an open API platform to which Safaricom has invited a massive community of more than 60,000 software developers.

Said Mr Njuguna: “Daraja is what we call our open API platform. So, that means we expose a lot of the M-PESA capabilities to developers.”

Safaricom exposes the M-PESA capabilities such as Bill Manager and M-Subscriptions to these developers to come up with solutions for their clients. These developers integrate numerous businesses with M-PESA and build solutions for banks, supermarkets and fintechs. All those developers earn a living by providing those solutions.

Ms Mueni Michelle gives the example of somebody who owns a gym and can see, through this API, who’s paid, who’s not paid, and then send reminders.

She adds: “So, apart from giving the technology, we are also coming in as a platform for businesses to leverage on the over 8 million customers we have on the M-PESA app. When you integrate and you have the mini-app on the M-PESA platform and you integrate via Daraja, you have access to these 8 million customers. This is opposed to when you build your own app. You have to start marketing from scratch. But now you have access to a market that you can actually go to and this is where now M-PESA comes in as a platform.”

According to Mr Njuguna, Safaricom’s desire to build a community of software engineer is bridge a shortage of this cadre.

Said Mr Njuguna: “Some estimates show that by 2030, the global demand around digital roles will be about 85 million jobs.  But these skills are quite scarce. We realised that we have similar challenges in the industry when it comes to digital transformation.

We want to do this but you are looking at the skills but they are not there. So we addressed it on two sides both the supply and demand.”

From the supply side, last year Safaricom graduated more than 650 people under that programme.

Realising that it couldn’t absorb them, Safaricom created a portal for other organisations, such as banks and the government, to view the available skill set, and hire whoever suits their needs.

Safaricom guarantees that all these people are certified, they’ve gone through the internship and are ready to be hired.

The telecommunications firm has a commitment to take more than 200 interns each year.

Says the Safaricom ICT director: “We are providing readymade talent both for our organisation and also for other organisations.

Mr Njuguna said he was impressed by the enthusiasm displayed by the young engineers during Safaricom’s Engineering Summit.

It’s been so great over the past year to just travel across this country and just ignite passion in young people and listen to the fact that they are looking for opportunities, not handouts and tell them in Safaricom we are building this community we are building by Safaricom and tell them you can be part of this story and you don’t necessarily need to be in Safaricom.

You could be a startup, you could be a tech company, you could be an enthusiast but we can bring you on board as well.

Article written by Evans Ongwae

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