Orange Digital Center - A partnership for innovation, digital skills and job creation

Orange Digital Center (ODC) is part of a cooperation project between the well-established Orange global telecommunications operator and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Orange has a dynamic vision to create innovative digital ecosystems with like-minded partners such as the German Cooperation in 14 countries in Africa and the Middle East, with the goal of training 20,000 young people to make them fit for the digital job market.

The partnership combines Orange’s expertise in training and supporting young people in the digital field with the expertise and knowledge of the GIZ in socio-economic development targeting African youth. The ultimate goal is motivating youths with a desire to learn and become productively employed within ICT as well as contributing towards the growth of Ethiopia’s economy and expansion in the digital field.

Hatoumata Magassa (from Mali) is the Country Director of Orange Digital Center. She is passionate about education, technology and having the opportunity to impact people positively and use her years of professional expertise at ODC.


Can you explain briefly what Orange Digital Center Ethiopia does?
Orange Digital Center (ODC) is an initiative sparked by the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) of Orange which aims to contribute positively to the SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) and as one of the major socio-economic actors in Africa and the Middle East, Orange is interested in building innovative digital ecosystems in countries where it is present. Supporting local economic development through youth is important to create a stable, sustainable business environment to the Group’s affiliates. Its prime objectives are to impact youth, promote digital inclusivity, employability and innovation.

What was it about launching in Ethiopia that was appealing?
Every year in Ethiopia there are approximately 2 million newcomers to the job market. The World Bank wants 20 million new jobs created per year (in Africa) to be able to absorb the vast youth entering the job market of Africa. Many of these job seekers lack the skills matched to the job market. We therefore work with government ministers and other local organisations to develop programmes applicable for the local job market.

What programmes do you teach?
We have a variety of programmes catering for beginners to experts and even programmes for children; we create fun activities to introduce kids to coding for example. We also attract people who have an interest in technology but zero computer skills, so we teach basic computer skills right on up to classes in advanced AI (artificial intelligence). Learners may need to take a test to enter Orange Digital Center depending on the programme but the key thing we are looking for is motivation to learn, whether beneficiaries are beginners, advanced learners or entrepreneurs.

Tell us a little more about your programmes?
They include Coding School, Vocational Training, Software teaching (coding language, AI) and soft skills such as developing leadership and communication skills. We also offer 3-month internships and boot camps. We also have a Fab Lab Solidaire (digital manufacturing workshops), supported by the Orange Foundation, where learners can be free to let their imaginations come to life – using different skillsets they combine them to create innovative projects. We have a variety of different opportunities on offer for the technology community starting from 2 hours to 3 months or longer, as long as a year if necessary, for people who are switching careers. Orange Summer Challenge (3 month) just took place with the innovative theme: Innovative technologies for plastic recycling.

How do you attract youth to participate?
We work specifically with universities where beneficiaries are already learning. We are also very active promoting what we offer through Social Media, Networking and we target Hubs where young people are already training. ODC will have something for you if you are interested in digital technology.

What about any particular focus on attracting women to join?
Yes, Orange Digital Center is extremely focussed on being all inclusive – it is simply not possible to exclude women! Women have such an impact on the economy. We understand that there are barriers for women, that they generally lack opportunities, so digital inclusion is essential.  Affirmative action is an important part of our training, and we even offer a Boot Camp specifically for women – a 5-day experience where we cover theory and practical training in addition to being intentional in supporting and mentoring women. It is not only important to us but also to our partner GIZ that we include women. Currently we are very pleased to announce that in our first quarter, 50 percent of students are women!

Can you highlight one or two students who are benefitting from this programme?
Maranatha Meseret a Computer Engineering Graduate from Gondar University, participated in our first internship programme (April-July 2021). Maranatha and her team developed a software solution for people with hearing disabilities; a speech to text convertor mobile application which aids disabled people in communication with others. She also had the opportunity to pitch her work in front of Dr Yania Said, State Minister of Innovation and Technology and received positive feedback. Maranatha is a multidisciplinary professional and an inspiring young woman who is genuinely interested in using technology to help people.

Abraham Yonas is a Software Engineer Graduate from Addis Ababa Science and Technology University. He was part of our first internship programme and Orange Summer Challenge. He developed a software solution that focused on tourism promotion in Ethiopia. The Guzoye project is designed to help international tourists to find a centralised source of information and to create job opportunities for young people. He also had the opportunity to pitch his work in front of State Minister Dr. Yania Said and received positive feedback. Abraham has excellent communication and development skills and has shown consistent energy throughout his stay with Orange. He has also displayed exceptional leadership skills and is a driving force in Orange Digital Center.

Does the programme help connect students to employment opportunities?
We have developed close relationships with a variety of local companies (public, private, NGO’s) that take beneficiaries as employees or interns. In fact, the job sector welcomes ODC; we have a good record of providing learners ready for employment and we receive excellent feedback about the skills of our students, their technical expertise and the fact that they are team players. Our beneficiaries leave ODC empowered with knowledge!


About the Orange Digital Center Ethiopia
Orange and GIZ cooperate within the framework of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (BMZ) funding programme develoPPP for sustainable company initiatives. In Ethiopia, the project is supported by BMZ's Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation.  [SMG1] 

About develoPPP
develoPPP is a funding programme of the BMZ. It is aimed at companies that want to invest sustainably in a developing or emerging country and expand their local operations. Prerequisites for support are a long-term business interest in the country and a sustainable developmental benefit for the local people. GIZ acts as one of two official partners who implement the programme on behalf of BMZ.

About the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation programme
In Ethiopia, the Orange Digital Center is supported by BMZ's Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation. The Special Initiative, which operates under the brand Invest for Jobs, supports German, European and African companies in investment activities that have a high impact on employment in Africa. The objective is to create good jobs and training opportunities and to improve working conditions in the following African partner countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia.


Author: Arabella Stewart
Photographer: ©GIZ/Mulugeta Gebrekidan
Publishing date: 26.10.2021