ICDL Africa hosted an ATC Forum with over 150 participants from 13 African countries. The objective of the event was to discuss how Africa can fully become digital literate through Enhancing cooperation between Strategic Partners and ICDL Africa Accredited Test Centers in the promotion of Digital Literacy.
During the forum, Participants were taken through the role of technology and how the skills gap in Africa can be addressed in the labor market.
Since 2015, the Government of Rwanda under the Ministry of ICT and Innovation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ICDL Africa to train the workforce and the general population in digital skills to enhance efficiency.
ICDL offers training in different categories such as ICDL Workforce – Digital skills for employability and productivity – consisting of Essential Skills, Office Productivity, and Good practice modules. The ICDL Professional Digital skills for occupational effectiveness – consisting of Creative, entrepreneurial and computational skills.
The Guest of Honor was Rwanda’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT and Innovation. In her opening remarks, the PS was clear that for Africa to achieve the Sustainable development Goals, a population equipped with the right digital skills must be incorporated and provided to the citizens.
The Permanent Secretary, Claudette Irere, thanked ICDL for the partnership with the Government of Rwanda in uplifting the skills of the workforce and the general population.
She said that about 60% of Rwandans are below 35 years old and working in public or private institutions stressing the need for extra effort to equip the youth with the necessary ICT skills.
The Chief Executive of ICDL Foundation, Damien O’Sullivan, said that they have made Digital skills training and certification a priority over the last twenty years. Presenting on The Digital Skills Divide- a global challenge, he reiterated that the challenge in the changing nature of work from twenty years back has been tremendous but some current workforce lacks up to date ICT skills which have resulted in delayed delivery of services and huge underperformance.
‘‘ICDL Africa put effort in training people, ICDL is not a western company brought to Africans, it is an international organization that has made an impact everywhere around the world,” he said.
According to Peter Maina, the Programme Manager at ICDL Africa, the issue of Digital skills gap is common in both public and private institutions leading to delays of rendered services and inefficiency.
“Nowadays, making reports can take days because of poor levels of digital literacy skills among the workforce. Enhanced productivity is possible if all workforce is capable of manipulating computers and the applications, they use daily,” he said.
Peter Maina explained how ICDL Africa has partnered with different institutions and offered trainings to their workforce since opening office in Rwanda, including the Ministry of Defense, National Police, Rwanda Revenue Authority, Rwanda Social Security Board(RSSB),University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies (UTB) and Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) among others with the aim to equip them with the digital skills that are applicable to enhance their productivity .
“In the future, African countries should prioritize technology to the level of Singapore that has seen a lot of development by building on human capital plus using technology in their day to day activities. Africa needs to expend much effort and resources in technology as the foundation of development,” he added.
The Vice-Chancellor for Academic programs and research at UTB, Prof Dr. Tombola Gustave, said that since partnering with ICDL Africa, the university has trained their students and staff on best practices and ICT skills needed by the job market stressing the importance of the globally recognized certificates that they offer to their graduates. This has made the University graduates very competitive in the labor market.
The partnership signed between ICDL Africa and the then Ministry of Youth and ICT currently the Ministry of ICT and Innovation in Rwanda aims to train the 85,000 Public servants by 2023. The PS at the ministry is keen on this dream being achieved albeit later than planned but the partnership with ICDL Africa has made the dream of a digital literate Rwanda a possibility.
During the forum, two panel discussions were held comprising eight and four panelists respectively to discuss the role and the need for digital skills in Africa in addressing the challenges of the skills gap in the Workforce. The sessions were very interactive where participants contributed to discussions, comments, questions and answers from the panelists. The event also had a poem on digital literacy that moved the audience to appreciate that Africa really needs digital skills for the workforce and the general public.
Other strategic partners who attended the event were Kigali City, ANSUT, AIMS, GIZ-STEP, ComputerAid International, TETFUND, ABSU-CEP among others.
The event had representatives from various ATCs in Africa, potential partners in the region and ICDL Africa team from all markets (Market representatives).
Inganzo Ngari (Rwanda traditional dancers) graced the event and put up a commanding performance while entertaining the invited guests and participants in the forum.
At the end of the forum, Damien O’Sullivan launched the new branding and gave a detailed history of ICDL and how different countries in Europe and Asia have embraced technology in their day to day activities seeing them become economic giants, the physical land mass cover not withstanding with an example of Singapore and Ireland.
In his closing remarks, the TETFund Executive Secretary, Prof Elias Bogoro, appreciated having ICDL as a strategic partner who has come at the right time as Nigeria focuses on equipping the general public with international digital skills standards.
He reiterated his commitment that the funds will be used to give skills needed by Nigerian population to leave an impact in society.
ICDL Africa’s Best performing ATCs and Partners were recognised with Best Practice & Project awards including one special award “Recognition award” to the Ministry of IT and Innovation, Rwanda that has played a major role in supporting ICDL Africa activities and endorsing the ICDL Programme as a Digital Skills standard for the workforce.