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UK, tech experts make case for digital literacy, skill gap reduction

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and experts in the Nigerian tech space have called for the implementation of policies to improve digital literacy and reduce the digital skill gap in the country.

The experts spoke at the ‘Inclusive Digital Transformation Programme’ in Lagos to advance inclusive digital development through an enhanced policy and regulatory framework for the Nigerian economy.

The event was attended by members of the public sector MDAs, ICT professional bodies, digital inclusion start-ups, and corporate players in the digital space.

Guy Harrison, the economic counselor to the deputy high commissioner in Lagos, said the aim of the event is to create a sense of support and partnership between the public and private to create a framework that can provide the right regulations and provide safeguards that encourage the private sectors to contribute more to the Nigerian economy.

Harrison noted that Nigeria has the potential to experience rapid growth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through human capital development in the area of information technology and bridging the digital literacy gap.

He said a review of existing digital frameworks can accelerate partnership opportunities between companies in Nigeria and the UK.

“We have already taken a group of Nigeria companies to the UK by April from a matchmaking mission,” Harrison said. “We very much hope this will create a virtual circle of good governance, good regulations and framework that is great for Nigerians and businesses.”

Faisal Naru, Executive Director at Policy Innovation Centre (PIC) said the policies being implemented by the government have to be right for there to be a good and enabling environment for people and businesses to thrive.

“It’s important to have this kind of dialogue to make sure that the right policies are in place and that things are working right for businesses,” Naru said.

“I expect in this conversation for us, first of all, to get different actors to start talking together, who maybe have not been speaking before at the federal level, state level, private sectors, donors funders, investor, banks. It’s important for them to speak together to understand what each other is going through and then co-create solutions that will actually work for people in Nigeria and for the better of the Nigerian economy.”

Idongesit Udoh, Head, UK Digital Access Programme, noted that millions of people in rural communities are left behind in the broadband connectivity, adding that efforts have to be intensified to reach such people.

Udoh said the UK access programme is working to help about 60% of Nigerians without digital skills to acquire one to function in the digital economy.

He said the UK is partnering with key stakeholders to build digital skills capacity for women and girls, people living with disabilities, and those without basic digital skills.

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