WhatsApp bot Lesedi targets SA’s digital skills gap

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Recently-launched digital literacy learning chatbot, Lesedi, has already attracted over 13 000 registered learners, consuming over 10 000 topics of content.

This is according to skills development body Digify Africa, which officially rolled out the new digital literacy bot last September.

Lesedi is a WhatsApp-based learning bot that tests users’ digital literacy skills, and then provides multiple mobile-first topics combining voice notes, text and images. The content is sourced across the internet, and one topic can take from 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

Once participants complete all course content, they are awarded with a certificate that can be added to job applications and CVs.

Digify Africa, which counts Naledi and Kitso among its learning bots, describes Lesedi as its most successful bot to date.

According to CEO Gavin Weale, Lesedi has exploded since its launch, with over a million messages sent on WhatsApp in under a month.

With South Africa’s jobless rate at 34.9%, affecting mainly young people, there’s a strong push to ensure unemployed citizens learn new emerging skills that increase their opportunities to actively participate in ballooning sectors, like the digital economy.

As the lack of basic digital skills is often regarded as one of the key contributing factors to youth unemployment, Digify Africa decided to introduce Lesedi as a tool to boost digital literacy.

Omphile Kgwathe, who leads the mobile innovation team that created Lesedi, says they wanted a more straightforward way of bridging the gap between the skilled and unskilled in fighting unemployment.

“Youth unemployment is a crisis in Africa. Young people urgently need digital skills for employability, but many lack basic digital skills and access to a PC or data to connect with opportunities.

“Lesedi the DigiBot will assist 18- to 35-year-olds across Africa to gain critical digital skills, and access to further training and work opportunities. As well as delivering courses via WhatsApp, Lesedi will be the bot-face of Digify Africa, linking to our existing programmes and network of trainers across the continent.”

Digify Africa notes when it was selected as one of the 10 global organisations to participate in the Chat for Impact Programme, it knew basic digital literacy was a problem it could tackle with one of its learning bots.

“Access to digital resources is still a challenge for many communities, and WhatsApp learning offers an alternative learning solution that caters to our unique context. WhatsApp is readily available to anyone with a smartphone. It is less data-intensive and a more suitable platform for people who live in remote areas where connectivity is still an issue. Users can gain vital basic digital skills that they can use to access opportunities.”

Interested participants can start the WhatsApp chat with Lesedi here. Alternatively, they can add Lesedi as a WhatsApp contact on 076 611 8409.

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