KEYNOTE 2: Increasing Use of Certificate Programs for Sustainable Workforce Development in Africa Through ICT

Urenna Onyewuchi, Ph.D

Owner and Director of the A Professional Africa platform

Date: Tuesday 24th August, 2021

Speech and Q&A: 0600-0630 GMT(UTC)


Urenna Onyewuchi, Ph.D. is the owner and director of the A Professional Africa platform ( She is heralding change in education, workforce development and workforce satisfaction of African committees and economically disadvantaged communities in the United States of America and the globe. She has Master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering with a specialization in asset management of systems (soft or hard) from top-tier university, Georgia Institute of Technology, and an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Virginia State’s George Mason University. She is a subject matter expert in education, power quality, energy management, smart metering, fire-root cause analysis, etc. from her tenure with Corning Incorporated. Dr. Onyewuchi branded and established the IEEE Power Africa Conference as a leading annual technical conference on the African continent with research and development (R&D) on products and services to increase electrification in Africa. She has led Women in Power sessions for the conference and can be reached at

Keynote Abstract

Over 50% of Nigeria’s workforce has achieved only a secondary school diploma or certificate: this group does not have a college degree. A significant population of graduating seniors from Nigeria’s universities and colleges remain jobless for years and/or end up in careers outside their training. Most end up in the banking industry, one of the largest employers in Nigeria. Nigeria’s workforce demographics are similar to those of most sub-Saharan African countries and so, can be used as a good case study for sub-Saharan Africa.

Finland, among other nations of the world, has revamped its education model, stepping back from the typical Western model and looking to better prepare its students to meet the needs of the nation intellectually.

With sub-Saharan Africa’s relatively low GDP, a high unemployment rate and low standard of living, decently priced online or in-person certificate programs can replace the tenuous and expensive “university model” for tertiary education and better match learners to organizations, private or public, that immediately require the specific skills learned from the programs. This model is being adopted in the United States, though mostly for individuals who have Bachelor’s degrees. The “Bachelor restriction”, I believe, is a result of the certificate programs being marketed by colleges and universities as opposed to secondary schools. Either way, the programs have seen certificate-earners quickly getting hired by employers and their expected incomes increasing significantly. Dr. Onyewuchi looks to market these programs to SS3 students in Africa through public and private secondary schools. The value of high-quality international-grade online certificates is being researched by her A Professional Africa platform so as to optimize workforce development strategies for Africa. 

This talk will cover strategies, resources and tools that will ensure ideal use of certificate programs to strengthen and apply the high productivity-potential of adults in sub-Saharan Africa.