National Policy Plans in East Africa for Skilling of Digital Workers for Industry 4.0

National Policy Plans in East Africa for Skilling of Digital Workers for Industry 4.0


The blog is part of the series that explores how various African states are preparing their citizens to integrate effectively into the industry 4.0 era. We previously assessed how North African and West African states have formulated and implemented their national strategies. This following blog will assess how East African states formulate their national strategies of 4IR (fourth industrial revolution) with particular focus on skilling, reskilling and upskilling of their populace. Our focus will be on Uganda and Kenya.


According to the Inclusive Digital Economy Scorecard Report, Uganda’s digital literacy rate is held to be at 20 percent.1 The low percentage can be attributed to the absence of a “holistic inclusion of digital skills” in the education curricula, stemming from the lower levels to the higher levels of education. 2 Such a concern exists due to the lack of a national digital skills framework that would guide and streamline government policies, standards and a curriculum for digital skills.3 The lack of the framework is held to hinder the ‘systematic development’ of digital skills both in the formal and informal sectors.4 However, despite this, there are national policies and plans that clearly identify the need to develop digital skills across the state. They include :

    1. Uganda Vision 2040

The national strategy looks towards the state developing, improving and retooling its ICT talent building mechanism through the adoption of globally bench marked industry- rated skills assessment, training and certification standards.5 The national educational curricula should progressively be reviewed to reflect the above. These efforts will assist with the current and future generations to effectively integrate into the 4IR era. 6

    1. Third National Development Plan (NDPIII) 2020/2021- 2024/2023

The plan acknowledges that there is an inadequate and unskilled professional ICT workforce within the public and private sector as well as a low ICT literacy rate.7 Therefore to address this gap, the plan looks towards promoting the use of ICT through the enhancement of digital literacy and the development of digital skills.8 The skills will assist with supporting the development and uptake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies. 9

    1. Digital Uganda Vision

The national policy and strategic framework integrate, consolidates and improves current ICT strategies, policies and plans into one overarching digital vision for Uganda.10 The vision is held to be catalyst for digital skills development across the various sectors of the state.11

    1. Digital Transformation Road Map

This is currently an ongoing collaborative effort with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to design a digital roadmap that aims to strengthen the implementation of enabling policies and laws that would assist with accelerating Uganda’s Digital Revolution.12 In addition, the plan looks to developing complementary strategies such as the big data utilization as well as a digital skilling strategy.13


Kenya has been recognised as one of the most computer literate societies in Africa . This is evident with the state’s high ranking in ICT skills development in Africa, where majority of its ranking are either top 3 or 5 in most indexes. 14 In addition, a future demand for ICT skills is present, where nearly 50-55% of jobs would be expected to depend on digital skills by 2030. Appreciating this , we look at the policy initiatives in place that are centred around digital skills:

    1. The Sessional Paper No.14 of 2012

The policy framework focuses on reforming education and training sectors in Kenya, where there is focus on the need to assure quality in all levels of education and training. 15 There is heavy emphasis on ICT skills development to guarantee the presence of an ICT literate workforce that would assimilate effectively in today’s digital economy.16 There is greater emphasis on ICT integration to improve teaching and learning, as well as the development of digital literacy, that would be relevant to the digital economy.17

    1. Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2019

The aim of this policy is to bring about socio-economic transformation by providing a framework for delivery of inclusive, equitable, quality, and relevant training and secure future opportunities. The policy recognises the role of technical and vocational education and training’ (TVET) and pledges to rebrand and reposition TVET in among other strategies.18 The rebranding involves enhancing the curriculum and introducing 21st century skills and digital literacy across the curriculum for all levels of the education system.19

    1. Kenya National Policy on Gender and Development 2019

The framework calls for the collation and dissemination of gender data on ICT access and use to inform policy and decision making.20 This is to harness ICT as a tool for broader strategies and programmes so as to create opportunities for empowerment of women and men.21 The Policy further calls for the identification, promotion and documentation of good practices and lessons learned to bridge the gender divide in the use of ICT.22 This policy further commits to promote inclusion of ICT and STEM education in mid-level tertiary institutions and promote the roll out of operational digital villages/ICT hubs and ‘biashara centres’ across the 47 counties to ensure access to ICT services by men and women.23 The National ICT Policy undertakes to provide an all-inclusive ICT environment by encouraging and engendering gender equality.24

    1. Kenya Vision 2030

The Vision 2030 was adopted in 2008 and has three pillars namely the Economic, Social and Political pillars that are anchored on a stable macroeconomic environment, continuous governance reforms; enhanced equity and poverty reduction and wealth creation.25 The Economic Pillar provides for the activities within the ICT sector where the target was to increase and sustain the level of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate to 10% to enhance the welfare of all Kenyans across the country by the year 2030. 26

    1. National Skills Development Policy 2020

The policy framework aims to provide a national framework that would assist with harmonising planning, coordinating, development, management and utilisation of skills in Kenya. 27 The policy looks towards recognising the importance of linking education and the labour market , to ensure the current and future workforce are compatible with the ever-changing needs of the labour market. 28With the policy in play , the state has the opportunity to ensure the skills development is coordinated in an effective and efficient manner. Assessing the framework within the context of globalisation, digitalisation and automation , the framework, “ provides an avenue for lifelong learning and the development of relevant skills” this aligns with the evolving nature of the labour market that is characterised by digital disruption and the fourth industrial revolution. 29

    1. Kenya Digital Masterplan 2022-2032

The plan encompasses of a digital skill pillar that is focused on the development of a digitally workforce that is grounded on ethical practises and social culture values to implement and operationalise the master plan.30 There is emphasis on the development of digital capacity among the citizenry for them to effectively consume digital services whether from the government or other sources.31 This is actualised through the building of capacity of 20 million citizens including ; Special Interest Groups on digital skills, the training of 10,000 officers in Public Service in high-end specialized ICT areas, the training of 300,000 civil servants on digital skills and data protection plus the training of 350,000 teachers on digital skills.32 Key examples of the above initiatives include :

      1. Digital Literacy Programme

The programme assists with formulating competency-based education that permits the early mentoring of learners in their areas of competencies. Citizens are actively involved in digital skills development through Presidential Digital Talent Graduate (PDTG) Internship; online jobs through the Ajira digital initiative; and innovative ideas through the Whitebox initiative.33 The Government has developed a capacity of 92,000 youths under the Ajira initiative.34 Through the programme, the government has distributed over 1.1 million learners’ devices to over 22,000 public primary schools and these benefited over 3 million learners at basic primary for grades 1-3. 35

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1 The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Inclusive Digital Economy Scorecard Report Uganda 2021 (July 2021) ,10.

2 ibid.

3 World Bank , Uganda Digital Economy Assessment Country Diagnostic [2020]

< > last accessed 5th February 2023

4 ibid.

5 Uganda Vision 2040 < > last accessed 6th February 2023.

6 ibid

7 National Planning Authority, Third National Development Plan ( NDPIII) 2020/21- 2024/25 ,155 <> last accessed 6th February 2023.

8 ibid.

9 ibid

10 Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Digital Uganda Vision <> last accessed 6th February 2023.

11 Uganda Digital Economy Assessment Country Diagnostic (n4).

12 The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Designing Uganda’s Digital Transformation Roadmap <> last accessed 7th February 2023.

13 ibid.

14 The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) & Huwaei Kenya, White Paper; ICT Talent Cultivation for Kenya’s Digital Economy [2021] <> last accessed 7th February 2023.

15 Ministry of Education & Ministry of Higher Education Science & Technology , Sessional Paper No 14 of 2012 on Reforming Education and Training Sectors in Kenya [2012] <> last accessed 8th February 2023.

16 ibid.

17 ibid.

18 Ministry of Education , Sessional Paper No 1 of 2019 on A Policy Framework for Reforming Education and Training for Sustainable Development in Kenya [2019] <> last accessed 8th February 2023.

19 ibid.

20 Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender, Sessional Paper No 1 of 2019 on National Policy on Gender and Development [2019] <> last accessed 8th February 2023.

21 ibid.

22 ibid.

23 ibid.

24 ibid.

25 Government of Kenya, Kenya Vision 2030 last accessed 9th February 2023/

26 ibid.

27 Ministry of Education State Department for Post Training and Skills Development & Ministry of Labour and Social Protection State Department for Labour , National Skills Development Policy [2020] <> last accessed 9th February 2023.

28 ibid.

29 ibid.

30 Ministry of ICT , Innovation and Youth Affairs, The Kenya National Digital Master Plan 2022-2032 ,<> last accessed 9th February 2023.

31 ibid.

32 ibid.

33 ibid.

34 ibid.

35 ibid.

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