The federal government on Thursday said it is working to create the enabling environment to unlock opportunities in the digital skills market in sub-Saharan Africa valued at $130 billion.
Kashifu Abdullahi, the director general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), disclosed this in Abuja at a Dialogue on the National Digital Literacy Framework (NDLF) organised by the GIZ/Digital Transformation Centre (DTC). He said the market represents a huge investment opportunity, especially for the private sector.
Quoting statistics from Statista and the International Finance Corporation, the DG said 28 million jobs in Nigeria and 230 jobs in Sub-saharan Africa will require digital skills by 2030. He said the government’s focus is to empower Nigerians with digital literacy to be part of the digital economy and to close the digital literacy gap.
“We need to train and retrain 230 million people in Sub-saharan Africa, and to achieve that, we need to invest $130 billion. So, a lot needs to be done. A $130 billion market is not a small market, and the government cannot do it alone. The government is carrying the value but the private sector will be the one to capture the value. So, government is creating the enabling environment for the private sector to create that value”, he said.
“The government has come up with the National Digital Literacy Framework, and to create an industry that will train people. Creating that industry will unlock the market. We are in the process of doing that”, he added.
Abdullahi informed that the process will be participatory, involving the private sector, Civil Society Organisations and international partners.
He also stated that the digital literacy framework has set a target to empower 95 percent of Nigerians with digital skills by 2030 by improving access, skills development, ensuring inclusive participation, and workforce readiness.
The DG, while pointing out that an illiterate is no longer a person who cannot read or write but anyone who cannot use digital devices, urged the review of the school curriculum. “This is a set stage for the education system to review curriculum from kindergarten to university so that everybody will be digitally literate in Nigeria”, he said.
Also speaking, Bosun Tijani, the minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy said the biggest challenge in Nigeria’s digital literacy target is not access but illiteracy.
According to him, “The access to technology that drives digital technology and its application is becoming cheaper and accessible. The biggest challenge is literacy. Before now, we used to talk about the gap that exists with access to the Internet, and mobile technology, but the price for this technology is dropping significantly which means a lot of our people have access. As they have access, the question would be whether they have the knowledge to use it.”
“For us to drive the prosperity that people want to see, it is important that people are digitally literate or participate in the global economy”, he added.
In her remarks, Thuweba Diwani, the Head of the GIZ/DTC informed that the roundtable aimed to raise awareness and promote an understanding of the framework and also inspire people to act towards the implementation and domestication of strategic initiatives within the framework.
Diwani further informed that the GIZ/DTC Nigeria will provide support to NITDA through the development of participatory implementation frameworks at federal and state levels for the Nigerian Startup Act and NDLF; Harmonisation of Digital Literacy Standards; Monitoring and Capacity development.