The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has released the 2020 edition of “Digital Skills Insights“, a collection of articles by international experts on the impact of digital transformation on capacity and skills development.
In eight articles, the publication reviews the interrelationship between digital connectivity and digital skills, as well as the correlation with education, gender, digital divides and the transformative aspects within the labour market. None of these should be addressed in isolation but be part of a holistic approach to ensure countries’ successful transition to a digital economy.
“Digital Skills Insights” 2020 provides a body of knowledge that will facilitate academic research and innovation; inform policy debates and decisions among policy-makers and regulators; and help the private sector to anticipate and plan for human capital requirements and skills.
“The vital importance of digital skills to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals has been brought into sharp perspective during the COVID-19 crisis”, said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General. “The expert contributions in ‘Digital Skills Insights‘ are helping to ensure that digital skill gaps do not exacerbate existing inequalities.”
According to ITU data, in 2019, 46 per cent of the world population was not using the Internet.[i] This number increases to almost 80 per cent in least developed countries. A large majority of the global population (93 per cent) lives in an area covered by at least a 3G mobile signal/service, however, the lack of skills is a barrier for many to use the Internet’s full potential.
Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) said: “In the wake of COVID–19, the importance of digital skills has never been so evident, nor so urgent. Those lucky enough to enjoy fast connectivity took refuge from the global health emergency by moving to a virtual environment for economic continuity, education, and interpersonal contact. However, those lacking access to digital networks and skills were left even further behind. I hope this publication stimulates important discussions on the best strategies to rapidly strengthen the capacities and skills required to profit fully from the benefits of digital transformation.”
How to address digital skills gaps
“Digital Skills Insights” provides concrete suggestions and recommendations on how some of these challenges can be addressed to better understand and bridge the digital divide, such as:
- Governments, businesses, educational systems and society need to work together to support a dynamic workforce and constantly redefine the skills demanded by future jobs.
- Further training and retraining will be necessary since employees will have to engage in lifelong learning if they are to be capable of responding to changes in skills requirements triggered by automation and digitization.
- Data literacy among citizens should be tackled by policy makers and practitioners through targeted data literacy programmes to enhance citizens’ abilities to participate in the digital society.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, building human capital, specifically in digital skills, is critical for the region to leverage the benefits of the digital economy.
- Female participation in digital skills capacity development programmes can be increased by including more women in the programme design, reaching out to parents and community leaders in the recruitment of participants, and engaging female career role models.
- Bridging the digital gender gap relies on gender-responsive ICT policy and therefore the digital capabilities of policy-makers need to be strengthened for them to better understand the barriers to Internet access women face, and to equip them with the tools to promote more gender-inclusive public policy.
Nigerian Telcos Explain Poor Network Services, Appeals For Calm
The Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has appealed to operators and subscriber for network outage experience by operators on Tuesday which affected the quality of services provided to subscribers, saying none of it was intentional.
According to a release made available to the press on Wednesday, the association said, “the outages have been compounded by power and other operations-related issues that have occurred across some major routes in Lagos metropolis and other states resulting in congestion of networks and impact on quality of services.
The release also stated that, “Further movement restrictions and the volatility on the streets has compounded the restoration of outages because engineers have not been able to move about to fix the problems.”
“At the moment, affected member operators are exploiting all avenues to remedy the situation. Engineers are making relentless effort round the clock to resolve issues, while in the interim, efforts are being made to optimize coverage utilising alternative solutions as a stop-gap solution to the most impacted locations.”
“We appeal to subscribers to please bear with us and be patient. Let us remember that we need both voice and data communication especially at this critical time.”
“We therefore appeal to our brothers and sisters who are still at the barricades, to please grant access to our member operator engineers to be able to access the affected locations to restore telecom services.”
ALTON also expressed his regrets on the reports of recent incidents of violence across the country, said that, “The wanton destruction of lives and properties is disheartening. As service providers and employers of labour our immediate priority is the safety of our staff across the country.
Minister Commissions NCC, USPF, NITDA Projects
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has commissioned more projects executed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) towards advancing the digital economy vision of the government.
The projects include the NCC’s Emergency Communications Centre, Ado –Ekiti; the Digital Awareness Programme (DAP) for Secondary Schools, whose beneficiaries are Methodist Girls’ High School, Yaba, Lagos State and Bishop Okoye Girls’ Secondary School, Ukpor, Anambra State; as well as the School Knowledge Center (SKC) at Ijaloke Grammar School, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, executed by the USPF.
The Minister also flagged off the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) initiative located at the Jewel’s Suite, Okoe Urejee, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, which was executed by the National Information Technology Development agency (NITDA).
Speaking at the 7th phase of the virtual commissioning of digital economy projects for a digital Nigeria by agencies under the Ministry on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 at the NCC’s Communications & Digital Economy Complex, Abuja, Pantami said the NCC’s ECC project is critical to enhancing the security of lives and property of Nigerians.
He also said that the DAP by USPF is an initiative designed to expose students to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) awareness and usage. “The DAP is a programme by which the NCC, through the USPF, contributes to the digital economy by ensuring inclusive growth of human capacity development as well as economic development of the Nigerian population.”
Accordingly, Pantami said the SKC is very key to the digital economy agenda of the Federal Government. “This is because FG understands that demand for jobs in the nearest future, as predicted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), would change completely. As such, job demands would be more on soft skills such as critical thinking, collaborative thinking, agility and adaptability among others, all of which can be aided by ICT.”
While stating that the NAVSA project by NITDA is also in line with the Federal Government’s economic agenda to diversify the economy by driving agriculture with ICT, the Minister said the projects, altogether, were a demonstration of accountability and transparency on the part of government for ultimate promotion of a digital economy in Nigeria.
The special guest of honour and Minister of State for Health, Senator Adeleke Mamora, as well as the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, commended the Ministry and its agencies for the ICT projects and expressed optimism that the projects would help in human capital development through driving innovations in the ICT sector.
Fayemi, who doubled as the chairman of the occasion, expressed satisfaction at the various ICT initiatives implemented in his state. With respect to the ECC project, he said the “the ECC will help in strengthening the security architecture of the state and we will put it to utmost use”
Mamora said the various ICT initiatives introduced in the wake the COVID-19 pandemic have been very helpful to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
ITU Virtual Digital World 2020 Seeks More Investments in ICT Infrastructure Amid COVID-19
The ITU Digital World 2020 has launched virtual proceedings, welcoming highest level influential participants from public and private sectors and across the information and communication technology (ICT) industry onto its virtual event platform.
Discussions will focus on the critical role of digital technologies and public-private sector collaboration in the COVID-19 era.
The three-day programme began with the opening ceremony, in the presence of H.E. Vu Duc Dam, Deputy Prime Minister, Viet Nam; Nguyen Manh Hung, Minister of Information and Communications, Viet Nam; and a distinguished audience of Ministers and invited guests, and included a special video message from Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
“COVID-19 has generated a huge demand for more ICT services and more advanced technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and cloud computing – but it has also revealed deep digital inequalities between those who are connected and those who are not,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao during his opening video message. “We need a new strategy based on smart and innovative policies that can attract more investments in ICT infrastructure, and we need a new way of working together.”
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam then welcomed ministers, regulators and C-level executives from across the world and all sectors of the digital ecosystem to the opening of the Ministerial Roundtables, the first such high-level ministerial meetings to be held on this topic since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying: “For the last few years, digitalization has become an irreversible trend that provides every country, economy, organization and individual with unprecedented development opportunity, as well as corresponding challenges that lead to changes in habits and personal life. Digital transformation is not only technological transformation, but more importantly, transformation in terms of design mindset and policy formulation of micro and macro scales.”
In opening the first ministerial roundtable ITU Deputy Secretary-General Malcolm Johnson said: “ICTs will be a key part of building back better for a safer, more connected, and more sustainable world ─ a world where everyone can have access to digital technologies and services that are safe, attractive, and affordable. This is why we are fortunate to have such a distinguished mix of public and private sector representatives here with us today to help define a faster way for economic recovery through digital technologies.”
In addition to ministerial roundtables, forum webinars will delve into policies, technologies and trends driving the digital economy. They include Bridging the broadband gap: stimulating public and private sectors to connect the unconnected; Entering the 5G era: demand, deployment, and disquiet; and Cybersecurity and privacy solutions: safeguarding our digital world. A global virtual exhibition, organized by Viet Nam and supported by ITU, will showcase the tech innovations of more than 100 virtual exhibitors from Viet Nam and around the globe.
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