Cisco has announced its commitment to prepare 10-million people worldwide for jobs in the digital economy, including 1-million in Africa.

The in-kind value amounts to around $1,5-billion and will be carried out over the next five years. The commitment was made at the Global Citizen ‘Mandela 100’ Festival held at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday.

“We are proud to be part of this remarkable campaign to empower citizens globally and contribute to improving the lives of marginalized communities in Africa and around the world. This commitment is in keeping with Nelson Mandela’s vision to alleviate poverty, especially in Africa,” says Clayton Naidoo, Cisco’s GM for sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are also overwhelmed by the huge support from global citizens who helped make this possible. It goes to show that if we all stand together for a common purpose, it can become a reality. Let’s continue to roll up our sleeves and make the impossible possible.”

At the event, Cisco also announced the winner of the Global Citizen Youth Leadership prize, which went to Wawira Njiru of Kenya. This award recognizes youth leaders between the age of 18 and 30 who have made a measurable impact on one of the UN’s Global Goals, and who inspires others to do the same. This award seeks to recognise ordinary young people doing extraordinary things, and includes a $250 000 USD prize.

Wawira is the Founder and Executive Director of Food for Education, an organisation that works with vulnerable children in Kenyan public schools to improve their lives by providing subsidised, nutritious school lunches. In the next 3 years, she aims to increase the number of school lunches from the current 2 000 to 20 000 a day in year one; 5 000 a day in year two and 100 000 a day in year three.

This year’s Global Citizen festival took place in Mandela’s centenary year to honour his fight to end extreme poverty. To help make this a reality, Cisco partnered with the movement to help connect people around the world through technology and lend its hand in ending extreme poverty. By 2025, Cisco aims to positively impact one billion people globally.

“We’re committed to accelerating global problem solving by supporting people who innovate as technologists, think as entrepreneurs, and act as social change agents. With digitization and the Internet of Things (IoT), good ideas now have the ability to make a difference more quickly than ever before,” says Naidoo.

“We apply our strengths including the use of technology and the passion of our employees, to address critical global issues like education, hunger, poverty, climate change, disaster relief and income inequality.”