Tech4Dev Holds Stakeholders' Engagement Forum Post Basic Digital Literacy for Rural Clusters in Northern Nigeria program.

| April 7, 2021

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In a time of social distancing and government-enforced lockdowns to curtail the spread of COVID-19, digital technology has enabled the continuation of work, education, and communication. But for millions of people who are unable to use technology, being offline is economically and socially isolating. COVID-19 has further illuminated the 'digital divide', which is even more pronounced in Nigeria (worse in poor rural clusters of Northern Nigeria). Therefore, it has become pertinent, especially on this path to the new normal for focus to be on digital literacy, to capacitate vulnerable populations to leverage technology for commerce, education, and communication to improve their socio-economic recovery and pandemic resilience and build a more prosperous future.

This and many more were the highlights of the Stakeholders' Engagement Forum organised by Technology for Social Change and Development Initiative (Tech4Dev), a non-profit organisation established to empower African communities with digital skills to bridge the gap of unskilled labour needed for the future of work. This Forum served as part of activities to end weeks of training on the Basic Digital Literacy for Rural Clusters in Northern Nigeria, a project funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). A total of 1,338 beneficiaries were empowered with basic digital literacy; of which over 600 were girls/women and 400+ were Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), across ten states in Northern Nigeria where this program took place, namely; Zamfara, Kaduna, Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Sokoto, Jigawa, Nasarawa, Niger and Plateau states. In her opening remarks, The Head of Prosperity Fund Nigeria, Martha Bostock, was delighted on the program's progress and the impact the initiative was able to make, especially the focus being on vulnerable women and girls, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and other vulnerable groups. She said, "The UK Government is committed to supporting the advancement of the use of technology in Nigeria through various programs it is implementing with partners." She also emphasised how technology has created opportunities and leverage for vulnerable groups especially considering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of positioning itself as a thought leader in empowering African communities with digital skills, Tech4Dev also used the opportunity of the Stakeholders' Engagement Forum to launch a Handbook and Factsheet, which is an offshoot of the just-completed Basic Digital Literacy for Rural Clusters in Northern Nigeria to highlight insights and learnings from the Programme. They encourage other like-minded organisations in the skills development space to deploy as a framework for such initiatives in the country and Africa at large. The Handbook and Factsheet were launched by the Honourable Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clement Agba. He reiterated the importance of partnerships that drive towards ensuring the availability of opportunities for underserved communities and positively impacts the quality of human capital within the country.

Speaking during the presentation of key learnings and challenges from the Factsheet, Diwura Oladepo, Executive Director at Tech4Dev, reiterated that "our focus is to get as many Nigerians, especially in the rural areas, to become digitally literate. The world is fast-moving, and we must move with it. There are indeed many gaps that affect our work, but we must work with what we have to achieve the results we want. Support from Government and community stakeholders has helped to amplify impact, and we believe the lessons learnt will inform the scalability of our efforts."

The forum had representatives from the host state governments and supporting stakeholders that facilitated the implementation of the Programme and beneficiary groups and key stakeholders from the Federal Government of Nigeria in attendance.

About Tech4Dev

Technology for Social Change and Development Initiative (Tech4Dev) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2016. Tech4Dev was established to empower African communities with digital skills that will bridge the gap of unskilled labour needed for the future of work.

About UK Government's Digital Access Programme

The Digital Access Programme is a UK Government Prosperity Fund flagship initiative led by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and delivered in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). The Programme covers five countries: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, and Indonesia.

The Programme's objective is to catalyse affordable, inclusive, safe, and secure digital access for underserved or excluded populations and to use increased digital inclusion as a basis for a more thriving local tech ecosystem, generating skilled jobs and innovative solutions for local development challenges.