• Thursday, July 25, 2024
businessday logo


CyberSafe launches DigiGirls initiative to close digital gap

CyberSafe launches DigiGirls initiative to close digital gap

With funding and commitment from the U.K government, CyberSafe on Wednesday flagged off an initiative known as DigiGirl, to close the digital gender gap that is causing unemployment and underemployment of women and girls especially for the underserved and vulnerable in Nigeria communities.

The program will ensure safe and responsible use of digital, tackle gender-based violence through economic empowerment of women, support inclusive and sustainable economic recovery post pandemic, increase the number of digitally skilled Nigerians, foster lasting poverty reduction and alleviate tough economic realities for women and girls in Nigeria.

“At Cybersafe Foundation, we are working to ensure inclusive and safe digital access across Africa. We are super excited to be implementing the DigiGirls Project, enabled by the commitment and funding from the UK Government,” said Confidence Staveley, Executive Director and founder, CyberSafe Foundation.

A recent United States Agency for International Development (USAID) report, shows that over 90 percent of jobs worldwide have a digital component, and, without digital skills, women are automatically disadvantaged and do not have the confidence to participate in the digital workforce.

CyberSafe Foundation is a non-governmental organization on a mission to facilitate changes that ensure a safer internet for everyone with digital access in Africa. The foundation recently launched cyber security awareness campaigns reaching over 20,000,000 people and cyber security awareness training for over 4000 small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs), educating over 9000 employees of these organizations.

“In a few days of opening applications for the DigiGirls program, we received over 12,000 signups, proof that DigiGirls is a timely and much needed intervention. Sadly, we could only accept 2400 of these women and girls across Nigeria, with only 10 percent learning on-site in our Lagos and Kaduna hubs,” Staveley said.

The program which will provide free basic to intermediate digital skills and soft skills training, mentorship, internship, as well as job placement to its beneficiaries, received co-designing and funding from the UK government through its Digital Access program.

Read also: HealthPlus ePharmacy launches first digital prescription platform

“We engaged in digital because digital is the future and Nigeria has got all the right ingredients for a successful economy based on digital. It has very talented people, it now has good broadband penetration, and it’s got innovation and ideas. So that’s why we’re in digital and this particular program, of course, is harnessing the skills and capacity of girls and seeing the contribution they can make,” said Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria.

To continue to drive digital access, Nigeria needs a combination of: increased access to affordable, faster and better quality internet, an encouraging regulatory environment, a skilled talent pool, and access to investment and partnership opportunities.

“Through the Digital Access program, we are working with the Federal Government, state governments and policy makers on removing systemic barriers to connectivity expansion. For example the Right of Way charges that make laying broadband more expensive. We are pleased to say that a number of states have reduced or ended these charges altogether and we would encourage other states to consider doing the same,” Laing said.

Also, the U.K government revealed that it has worked with the Federal Government to roll out a five year national broadband plan that will help expand Nigeria’s broadband connectivity from the current 38 percent penetration to 75 percent, by 2025.

Speaking on Cyber security, Nigerian authorities were asked to support Small and Medium Enterprises with cyber security tool kits, and to build capacity on critical national information infrastructure.

The DigiGirls program will receive training from partners which include EGO foundation, Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (Areai), and Geneza school of design, as well as volunteer expert trainers, and volunteer virtual assistants.

Other infrastructure partners include the Federal College of Education (technical) Akoka Lagos, and Kaduna information and communication technology (ICT) hub which provide on-site learning facilities to the trainees.