The Administrator, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, has called on African governments to invest more in the ICT sector to boost digital skills, stimulate economic growth and youth employment.
Adinde, made this known during the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Digital Bridge Institute Regional Human Capacity Building Workshop, held in Abuja recently.
The three days workshop with the theme: “Strengthening Capacity on Internet Governance in Africa,” stressed the need for the growth of digital literacy across African countries in the 21st century.
“Indeed, policy makers and governments in Africa ought to launch aggressive intervention into the ICT industry by investing in skills development to stimulate economic growth and tame the rising tide of youth joblessness and associated insecurity in the region,” Adinde said.
He lauded the ITU for establishing training centres but expressed his displeasure that “only a few of our youths have the wherewithal to enrol for some of the human capacity training opportunities provided by the ITU centres of excellence and other tertiary institutions,” a situation he said, has made the case for intervention even more imperative.
According to the DBI boss, there is a convincing argument that if Africa wants to transform and become a global player, it must transform its human capital.
Adinde said Africa must open access to quality education and training for the young population by deliberately creating funds that will increase access to acquisition of digital skills.
He cited the example of the Smart Africa Scholarship Fund launched during the Transform Africa Summit 2015, which hosted over 2,500 delegates from 81 countries.
“The Fund aims to provide financial support to our youths who are seeking post-graduate and certification- level training at the continent’s best ICT centres of excellence.
“I am a keen advocate of the digital skills initiative by the ITU Centres of Excellence Network for Africa, which recommends the reservation of a certain percentage of the Universal Service Fund for universal access to digital education,” he said.
According to him, the ITU Centres of Excellence in Africa strongly canvassed this position in 2016 at the Capacity Building Symposium in Nairobi, Kenya.
“It is time that we make a bold decision in this direction to provide funding access for the much talked about digital skills literacy by earmarking a proportion of Universal Service Fund (USF) for digital skills literacy.
“This resonates strongly against the backdrop of indications that surplus balance exist in USFs across Sub-saharan Africa (SSA),” Adinde said.
“As we seek to change the African landscape in this era of connected economy, we must take strategic decisions that are implementable within the shortest possible time because of the changing terrain,” he added.