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Eyeing Africa’s first chip plant

OAO Investments and ChipLab hope to empower South African students by fuelling semiconductor innovation and education.

A black female-owned company called One Africa Odyssey (OAO) Investments has partnered with chip design and education company ChipLab to nurture a new generation of microchip designers in Africa.

Targeting 60% representation of women, the strategic collaboration is intended to empower students and professionals with cutting-edge skills, foster innovation, and pave the way for the establishment of the first chip manufacturing plant in Africa.

South Africa, like many nations, faces a growing demand for skilled professionals in emerging technologies such as chip design and artificial intelligence (AI). Through this visionary partnership, says OAO, it will work closely with ChipLab to offer a comprehensive range of educational programs tailored to South Africa’s evolving tech landscape. 

These programs will provide students with specialised knowledge in chip design, hardware development, and technology innovation, aligning with the demands of the digital age and emerging fields like AI. 

This partnership embodies a deep commitment to promoting gender equality in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) industry. 

“At OAO Investments, we hold a steadfast belief that the meticulousness, ingenuity, and unwavering determination of women are essential drivers of innovation in this rapidly evolving domain,” says Zamokuhle Aja-Okorie, MD of OAO. “The collaborative efforts between OAO Investments and ChipLab will strive to achieve a 60% representation of women among the skilled microchip designers in Africa.”

The collaboration will provide grant-funded educational opportunities to students, enabling them to access cutting-edge training and prepare careers in technology. OAO, through ChipLab’s educational programs, will empower students with the skills required in the technology sector. The programmes will culminate in job placements, contributing to economic growth, reducing unemployment, and fostering gender equality within the technology industry.

The partnership is intended to foster an environment conducive to innovation, research, and hands-on experience in chip design. This will not only benefit the local economy, but also contribute to global technological advancements.

The first South African cohort of students will commence their training in the ChipLab Academy in November 2023.

“This collaboration exemplifies our commitment to skills development, fostering innovation and paving the way for technological self-reliance,” said Aja-Okorie. “We believe that by empowering students with the skills needed for semiconductor design and fabrication, we can contribute to the growth of a vibrant technology ecosystem in Africa.”

Ola Fadiran, CEO and co-founder of ChipLab, said: “Our mission at ChipLab has always been to bridge the gap in semiconductor education and support the growth of a robust ecosystem. Partnering with OAO Investments aligns perfectly with our goals and allows us to accelerate our mission.”

The companies believe the partnership represents a significant milestone in the journey towards establishing South Africa’s first chip manufacturing plant. It underscores the importance of collaboration, education, and innovation in driving technological progress and economic growth.

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