…as NCC, AfYIGF strengthen Africa’s digital landscape
The United Nations has estimated that digital technology will account for over 90 percent of available global jobs by 2030.
Mactar Seck, the chief of technology and innovation of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said this during the 2023 African Youth Internet Governance Forum (AfYIGF) in Abuja on Monday.
According to him, there is an urgent need for African leaders to promote digital empowerment for the youth, adding that “by 2050, youths under the age of 35 years will represent over 70 percent of the African population.
“This shows how important the youth are to the future of the continent. Because the economies of Africa will be driven by the youth around 2030-2050, this kind of meeting can help to understand what kind of skills the youth need and what is the perspective of the youth in this digital economy era.
“As you know, by 2030, 90 percent of the new jobs will be in the digital sector, hence the need for digital governance.
“This is why it is very important to boost the skills of the youth on digital technology and we are happy to see several initiatives around Africa evolving in this digital era,” he said.
Seck further noted the emergence of several startups in the area of digital technology, coming from Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal.
For him, with the use of artificial intelligence and applications, many startups are transforming the farming sector, agriculture sector, and health sector. “This is a very positive response to the needs of Africa in this digital era.”
Seck noted, however, that African youths were challenged by several factors, including digital illiteracy, access to technology, and funding among others.
According to him, “We need to increase our digital literacy; we need to create more capacity on the digital skills if you want to be key actors in the digital era by 2030/2050 because by 2030, we’re at the end of SDGs. We need to build a capacity for African youths today or to create more support.
“I have said that 90 percent of available jobs will be in digital space in coming years, without the skills, we don’t expect our youths to take benefits of this new digital technology,” he added.
Umar Danbatta, the executive vice chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), noted that Africa has a burgeoning youth population and this represents both an opportunity and a challenge.
Danbatta, represented by Ibiso Kingsley George, head of the internet governance unit, new media & information security department, noted that harnessing the energy and creativity of the youth was crucial for the continent’s development.
According to him, “We are in the era of rapid technological growth which is key to unlocking our continent’s untapped potential and transforming Africa’s digital landscape.
“Emerging technologies have emerged as a beacon of hope, offering transformative solutions to these issues. With their disruptive potential, they offer a range of tools and solutions which have the power to propel Africa towards sustainable development and youth empowerment.
Danbatta said that the continent’s digital future relies heavily on a collective effort to ensure inclusivity, security, and innovation.
He added that the NCC has long recognised the vital role of the youth in shaping the trajectory of Nigeria’s technological advancement.
“Through strategic policies and initiatives, we have championed youth empowerment, providing the tools, knowledge, and platform for our young minds to thrive in the digital age.”
Lillian Nalwoga, the representative of the AfIGF Multistakeholder advisory group, said that the African Youth Internet Governance Forum (AfYIGF) was a platform that brings together young experts to shape the internet’s future within Africa.
For her, “the African Youth IGF seeks to explore the theme of emerging technologies where we will delve into leveraging innovation for sustainable development and youth empowerment in the region.”