The digital transformation is encompassing all areas of societal life. Successful participation in social and economic processes therefore requires all citizens to have digital competences. These include the entire spectrum of competences that a person of any age needs to be a responsible actor of the digital society – from social and political e-participation to better employability and the critical use of new media. Crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic point to both the importance and the urgency of digitalisation and the digital skills essential for it. At the same time, they highlight the skills deficit that exists in many countries, which contrasts with the enormous need for digital competences.
The formal and non-formal (out-of-school) education system has a special role to play regarding digital skills development. In the globally changing learning culture, it is currently apparent that the impact of the digital transformation extends far beyond the classroom. Increasingly, classroom learning is being replaced, or at least complemented, by extracurricular activities run by grassroot initiatives from innovation hubs or maker spaces. There, young people can playfully, among their peers and on their own, acquire those digital skills that have become so essential for a tech-savvy society and that are not always taught in a purely school context. The education systems in countries all over the world – including many African countries – cannot keep up with technological progress, which constantly demands new skills. Thus, equipping students – the engines of development – with the digital capabilities necessary for the continent’s sustainable digital development is proving to be a major challenge.
The transnational nature of the digital transformation brings opportunities but also challenges with regard to societal issues such as education and training, the labour market or political participation and gender-related questions. Power dynamics can intensify if it is not ensured that the digital offerings needed for transformation and (further) education are accessible to all population groups. In the field of digital competences in educational ecosystems, the interplay between state, civil society and private sector actors plays a major role.
GenerationDigital! & BACKUP Initiative/RESICODI
The GenerationDigital! project is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and aims to promote the digital skills of children and young people by strengthening the structures of the digital ecosystem. It follows a pan-African approach and includes the following partner countries: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.
The long-term impact of the project is the digital transformation of a lifelong learning society. This means an increase in employability, the reduction of poverty, more transparency and resilience as well as an increasing democratisation of society by empowering citizens to digitally participate in political and economic life.
At the heart of GenerationDigital! is a demand-driven and flexible fund approach. The radical demand-orientation supports the implementation of innovative ideas of African partners and ensures alignment with national processes and priorities. The promotion of gender equality is an important element of the project’s fund. The project advises applicants on how to ensure that measures contribute to greater gender equality and avoid unintended negative effects. In addition, it supports the promotion of women in specialist and management positions, e.g. through further training measures applied for from the fund.
The fund approach of GenerationDigital! consists of a triad of regional networking, technical as well as financial advice and financial support. African ministries (e.g. in the field of ICT or education), national civil society organisations and regional networks can apply for support. Incoming applications go through a quality review system with regard to consistency with the respective national education and digitisation strategies or plans and the exclusion of double funding.
The project builds on the years of experience of the GIZ BACKUP Initiative, which has been expanded since 2020 through co-financing from the European Union under the name RESICODI together with the Belgian development agency Enabel.
On the occasion of the eLearning Africa conference, taking place in Dakar, Senegal, from 24/05/ – 26/05/2023, a panel discussion will be held on the topic of the perspective on Digital Skills Building from African Government and Innovation Hub Leaders. This panel session at eLearning Africa will bring together policy makers with digital skill builders and innovation hub managers to discuss the needs of African youths for digital skill building from a digital rights and digital innovators point of view. The panelists will share their insights and experiences and engage in a lively discussion on how African youths can be empowered to become active creators and innovators in the digital realm. The discussion will include the question what frameworks and policies are required and what programmes and activities on the grassroot level can be supported by governments. Given the increasing importance of digital technology in the modern world, the question of what it takes to be an active contributor to the digital society rather than a passive consumer and data point is an essential one. To be active members of the digital society, African youths will require access to digital infrastructure, digital literacy, digital citizenship, and an enabling environment that fosters creativity and innovation.
GenerationDigtial!: Supporting digital skills for the next generation (giz.de) RESICODI/BACKUP Initiative: BACKUP Initiative: Supporting education with digital bridges (giz.de)
GenerationDigital! The importance of civil society for digital education ecosystems (YouTube)
GenerationDigital! Regional exchange for digital education ecosystems (YouTube)