Cisco achieves ambitious goal one year ahead of schedule, by scaling social impact programs and digital access for communities in the UAE and around the world

Reem Asaad,

The milestone coincides with the launch of Cisco’s annual Purpose Report, providing updates on its ESG and social impact progress through fiscal year 2023.

One year ahead of schedule, Cisco has surpassed its goal to make a real, tangible difference in the lives of one billion people, leveraging a powerful combination of technology and people, backed by its purpose to power an inclusive future for all.

To achieve its goal of positively impacting one billion people by 2025, Cisco invested in nonprofits through its Social Impact grants and Networking Academy to help them develop and scale technology-based solutions for the critical challenges facing communities around the world. Cisco also worked with local and national governments, including the UAE, to empower communities with IT skills, helping develop the workforce of the future and fostering digital inclusion – all measured by a rigorous tracking methodology.

We will continue to leverage the power of technology and partnerships in the UAE and across countries around the world deliver a secure, connected and inclusive future for all,”

Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East and Africa.

“Through collaboration with national leadership, industry and nonprofit partners, as well as the dedication of our people, we are proud to celebrate impacting more than one billion lives globally. We will continue to leverage the power of technology and partnerships in the UAE and across countries around the world deliver a secure, connected and inclusive future for all,” said Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East and Africa.

Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program is a long-term partnership with national leadership, industry and academia to stimulate innovation, grow GDP and expand job creation. In the UAE, the CDA program was launched in 2018 and has since recorded over 20 completed digitization projects across industries such as healthcare, tourism, transportation, education, retail and more.

Cisco renewed its commitment in 2022 – signing a collaboration framework with the UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications Office – expanding their collective impact. The current initiative focuses on areas including sustainability, cybersecurity, talent development, SME empowerment and digital infrastructure.

In the same year, Cisco collaborated with the UAE Coders HQ to establish the ‘Sibaq Lahja’ program – aiming to equip young coders and software engineers with the skills required to develop and deploy AI solutions in the realm of Arabic Natural Language Processing (NLP).

In 2023, Cisco has also collaborated with the UAE’s Ministry of Economy on a digitization initiative that provides entrepreneurs with access to innovation labs, technical expertise, and business development opportunities. This initiative seeks to help boost the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

In light of ongoing advancements with generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI), and evolving cybersecurity threat that comes with the technology, the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that half the global labor force may need reskilling over the next two years, and 1.1 billion jobs will be transformed by technology in the coming decade.

In addition, there is the assessment that three million cybersecurity experts are needed to support the current global economy, signifying the imminent importance for initiatives like the Cisco Networking Academy – one of the longest standing IT-skills-to-jobs programs in the world.

Since the inception of Cisco Networking Academy in the UAE (in 1999), more than 105,000 learners have received IT skills training in-country, with a strong 45% female participation rate. This includes over 12,000 learners in Cisco’s 2023 fiscal year alone, participating via 38 academies across the Emirates. 

95% of students surveyed globally* cite the Academy’s impact in helping them attain a job or further education opportunities. This year, Cisco announced its goal to train 10 million people in digital and cybersecurity skills, over the next 10 years, across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

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