August 15, 2022

Equipping Graduates in Africa with Skills for a New Technological Era

The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) has embarked on a unique partnership with Ireland-based engineering services and innovative solutions provider InnoGlobal, to bring a short course on Digital Transformation applicable to advanced manufacturing sectors to the African continent.

The Digital Transformation course, developed by InnoGlobal through its higher education institute, InnoPharma Education, will be piloted as a skills training initiative funded by the UK Newton Fund through the Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) Big Data project. SARAO, a delivery partner of the UK-South Africa Newton Fund through the DARA and DARA Big Data projects, will lead the local hosting and implementation of the course with the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) South Africa. 

Digital Transformation refers to the smart integration of technologies, processes and data to improve operational effectiveness and capability. Within the manufacturing sector, expertise is needed in process digitalisation, data management, data analytics and data visualisation to successfully transform to what is known as Industry 4.0. This course is an introduction to the skills and competencies associated with the concepts of Industry 4.0 digital transformation with applications of these skills to the pharmaceutical, medical technology and food processing/manufacturing industries.

The Digital Transformation course is an expansion of the skills training initiatives offered through DARA Big Data, which will focus on applications of big data technologies in addition to data analytical skills, compliance and ethics. The course builds on the multidisciplinary nature of the DARA Big Data project with the course content applied to advanced manufacturing sectors within the pharmaceutical, medical technology and food systems industries.   

“We are excited by this partnership in offering a course that can transform the manufacturing sector in South Africa and on the African continent,” says Dr Bonita de Swardt, SARAO Programme Manager: Strategic Partnerships for Human Capital Development. “The Digital Transformation course will enhance the skills of graduates to meet the skills needs for manufacturing environments for Africa’s transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. SARAO is proud to have played a role in establishing this partnership which will provide upskilling of graduates in preparation for jobs of the future,” she adds.

The Digital Transformation course will be adapted to an African manufacturing environment with graduates gaining knowledge and skills on concepts of the smart factory and the evolution of life science manufacturing from a traditional reactive process to the emergence of Industry 4.0 and Pharma 4.0. It is expected that these graduates will be eligible to take up employment within life science organisations  working on transforming its processes to integrate data, new technologies, data analytics, improved ways of working and improved support processes.

“We have worked with SARAO’s Human Capacity Development Programme for over five years now to champion the benefits of digital skills and human capital investment within the African Union at various global gatherings including UN General Assemblies, European Commission and African Union led workshops. We are delighted to work together on this exciting initiative. It is an excellent opportunity to showcase InnoGlobal’s unique approach to skills co-ordination and delivery through public-private partnership with research institutions, funding agencies and industry,” says Dr Ian Jones, Founder and CEO of the InnoPharma Group. “I am  confident that this programme will act as a catalyst for further skills initiatives adding to the capability to manufacture medicines, which is much needed on the African continent,” he adds.

This year’s Digital Transformation course will be run as a pilot programme accommodating up to 50 graduates from South Africa and the eight Square Kilometre Array (SKA) African partner countries. The course consists of an online learning component, which will be followed by a one-week intensive workshop in Cape Town, South Africa. Career guidance and mentorship will be offered to graduates after the course to further increase their prospects of finding employment.

It is envisioned that the Digital Transformation course will be adapted to fit a local environment in any region on the African continent through partnerships with industry and academic institutions. This will contribute to the creation of technical expertise and skills capacity for the continent to fully transition to a digitized era.  

For more information and to apply please visit

More about the partners of this initiative

The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO)

The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO), a facility of the National Research Foundation, is responsible for managing all radio astronomy initiatives and facilities in South Africa, including the MeerKAT Radio Telescope in the Karoo, and the Geodesy and VLBI activities at the HartRAO facility. SARAO also coordinates the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) for the eight SKA partner countries in Africa, as well as South Africa’s contribution to the infrastructure and engineering planning for the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope. To maximise the return on South Africa’s investment in radio astronomy, SARAO is managing programmes to create capacity in radio astronomy science and engineering research, and the technical capacity required to support site operations.


Newton Fund and DARA Big Data

This initiative is funded by the UK-South Africa Newton Fund partnership under the DARA Big Data project. DARA Big Data is a human capacity development intervention with the goal of equipping African countries forming part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) partnership with the skills needed for data-driven science and big data technologies. The project builds on the diverse set of skills required for hosting of cutting-edge radio astronomy infrastructure through the SKA and African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN), with a focus on the translation of skills for an even broader impact on Africa’s data-driven development.

More information on the Newton Fund and DARA Big Data can be found here:

AIMS South Africa

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is Africa’s first network of centres of excellence in mathematical sciences. It enables the continent’s youth to shape the continent’s future through Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education, training Africa’s next generation of leaders. AIMS South Africa is one of the centres of excellence for training, research and public engagement in Cape Town, South Africa. AIMS South Africa was established in 2003 as a partnership project of: Cambridge University, the University of Cape Town, Oxford University, the University of Paris Sud XI, Stellenbosch University, and the University of the Western Cape.


InnoGlobal and InnoPharma Education

InnoGlobal, based in Dublin, Ireland but thinking and operating globally, have an excellent track record in development, co-ordination and deployment of skills initiatives across multiple industries and continents. The company is uniquely qualified to facilitate digital and green transformations for enterprises and governments, with a focus on building the knowledge and culture that enable successful implementation and outcomes for industries, nations and most importantly – people.

InnoGlobal, through its higher education institute, InnoPharma Education, operates at the forefront of skills and learning in high-tech manufacturing, advancing skills and capabilities across the pharmaceutical, medtech and food science industries. Established in 2009, InnoPharma Education works with its education partners to develop and deliver industry-focused and accredited qualifications to meet the needs of Ireland’s growing STEM sectors. Specifically designed for those who wish to change or advance their career in the pharmaceutical, medical device or food sectors, its courses upskill and equip people from diverse backgrounds with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully secure promising career opportunities in these fast-growing sectors.

InnoGlobal’s sister company Innopharma Technology designs and develops Pharma 4.0 data and technology solutions to help development and manufacturing teams improve their processes and deliver better outcomes in drug manufacturing. This research and insight ensure real world relevance of InnoPharma Education’s programmes – both and undergraduate and postgraduate level.

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