National Policy Plans in West Africa for Skilling of Digital Workers for Industry 4.0
The following blog is the second part of the blog series that aims to explore how various African states are preparing their citizens to integrate effectively into the industry 4.0 era. Specifically , it will assess how West 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 Nigeria and Ghana.
The ICT sector is held to be the leading sector that contributes to the national GDP (17.83%).1 Nigeria’s digital economy presents an enticing opportunity for employment and job creation amongst its populace. However, for the opportunity to materialise , there is need for “improvements in digital skills and literacy” amongst the populace. 2
The National Digital Economic Policy and Strategy:
The National Digital Economic Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) , is held to be a gap filler of the above, as it looks to advance “an inclusive digital economy”.3 The strategic plan is one formulated by the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy( Federal Ministry). The main objectives of the strategy (applicable), look towards acquisition of digital skills through ; developing a digital education curriculum to ensure current and future needs of the digital economy are met, targeting 95% digital literacy rate in the country by 2030 and analysing policy and regulatory instruments through assessing whether they are “fit for purpose” to support the digital economy.4 This is actualised through the pillars formulated . The applicable pillar we will look at, is digital literacy and skills.5
Digital Literacy and Skills
The following pillar acknowledges that citizens are the greatest assets in the digital economy.6 As there is appreciation that “ a digital economy can only be vibrant as the level of digital literacy of its citizens.”7 Digital literacy is held to be a pre-requisite in the survival of the 4th industrial revolution.8 The pillar’s main objectives are ; creating a conducive environment for the public sector, private sector, civil society and development partners to support the mass training of Nigerians.9 This is to equip them with digital literacy for effective participation in the digital economy. In addition, there is the objective of integrating digital literacy and skills into the national education curriculum at all levels , to ensure Nigerians are “conversant “ with digital skills from a young age.
Evidence of this is found in the establishment of key programmes and bodies such as the Digital Nigeria Programme and the National Committee on Digital Skills, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. These initiatives have resulted in outputs such as the Digital Nigeria eLearning platform , a platform that is established through the partnership of the African Development Bank , the Nigerian Government and Microsoft. The platform is one that aims to provide “marketable digital skills” to the populace, as it looks to empower them to fully participate in the digital economy .10The collaboration is one that looks towards promoting a “paradigm shift” through emphasis on digital skills. 11 The courses offered are in ; web development, content creation, and data science …etc.12 There is also use of “gamification techniques to teach problem solving, collaboration, creative thinking and basic coding”.13 Worth noting , it is continuous learning as the platform is one that is constantly updated with new courses.14
In addition, there is leveraging of partnerships to ensure training certifications are provided for.15 The initiative is one that affiliates with the African Development Bank’s strategic agenda of creating twenty five million jobs in agriculture, information communication technology (ICT) and other key sectors by 2025 and equipping fifty million African youth with digital skills.16 Other public-private partnerships include, the implementation of the memorandum of understanding between the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and Huwaei to establish the Huwaei ICT Academy project and the Huwaei ICT Talent Cultivation project.17 This involves training a minimum number of thirty thousand citizens in advanced ICT with the goal of achieving the 95% digital literacy rate in the state by 2030.18 There is a separate partnership between Microsoft and the Federal Ministry. The partnership is one that seeks to achieve three main pillars ; connectivity, skilling and digital transformation.19 Looking towards skilling, there is an objective of upskilling five million Nigerians over the next three years, through the provision of training by a thousand and seven hundred trainers utilising a hybrid model of online and in person training.20 There will be provision of resources to digitally transform “skilling, schooling and employment methods” in the next three years, with the aim of creating over twenty seven thousand digital jobs.21
The Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan 2021-2024
The overarching goal is one that looks towards the achievement of a decent productive and freely chosen employment for the youth by “complementing and reinforcing existing policy commitments and national development priorities.”22 The priorities (applicable) are ; employability. The goals here are centered around formulating a strong foundation of core relevant skills that would assist with the youth assimilating well into the workforce and being adaptable to change.23 There is acknowledgement that there is a “digital skills deficit” amongst the youth , and in order to participate in the digital economy , there is need to invest in digital skills development to ensure decent jobs for the youth in the digital economy.24 The suggested means of addressing the above (applicable) are ; developing and launching an innovative digital skills curriculum that compromises of computer science, information technology and digital literacy, advocating for a comprehensive educational reform including the introduction of digital skills in school and training curricula plus facilitating an enabling environment for increased enrolment in STEM courses through the provision of bursaries and the encouragement of female participation .25 Such goals have materialized with initiatives such as the Digital Skills Acquisition, Entrepreneurship, Employability and Leadership (DEEL) Initiative that promotes digital literacy, skills development, entrepreneurship and leadership training as well as practical work experience .26
National Information Technology Development Agency Strategic Road Map 2021-2024
The National Information Technology Development (NTDA) , is a public service institution established by the National information Technology Act 2007 as the “ICT Policy implementing arm”. 27 It’s operations are in align with the NDEPS for a Digital Nigeria Plan. One of the key strategic pillars of the map looks towards promoting digital literacy and skills . The implementation of the goal will be achieved through the development and adoption of digital literacy standards for Nigeria . In addition, the pillar aims to create a conducive environment for the massive training of the populace on the relevant digital skills needed. The objectives have actualised to initiatives such as :
The National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture
This is an initiative with the aim of promoting smart agriculture in Nigeria as a means of implementing the NDEPS. This is done through building digital capabilities and incentives across agriculture value chains aimed at creating employment
The National Adopted Village School for Smart Education
The program looks towards promoting digital literacy and skills amongst students, with the aim of assisting them to integrate into the digital economy.
The state has a projected outcome of nearly 9 million jobs by 2030 , that would require basic digital literacy. 28 Digital skills training needs will increase to nearly 19 million by 2030. 29 Despite the opportunities present, policy is held to have a minimal effect as it is “nimble” in addressing how the populace would integrate into the digital economy.30 This creates a gap , where there is need for digital skills training programs to bridge the demand-supply gap present to ensure there is sufficient investment in human capital for the digital economy. 31
National ICT in Education Policy for Ghana 2015
The framework’s mission emphasizes the importance of utilizing information communication systems in the Ghanaian educational sector, with the underlying objective of equipping the populace with the pre-requisite skills to meet the national and global demands of the 21st century.32 The document is centered around three pillars, that are each meant to receive “slightly different policy interventions and strategies” to ensure “assured effectiveness.” 33The pillars include; i) ICT as a learning and operating tool, (ii) ICT as integrated into teaching and learning, (iii) ICT as a career option for students. Ways in which the pillars are translated into actionable reforms, include:
ICT Capacity Building and Skills Development Programme
The objective of this programme is to support digital inclusion at the community level and assist with bridging the digital divide. 34This is materialized through the provision of basic ICT training to the underserved and unserved communities using ICT Centers. The Centers focus on developing digital skills, mainly basic and intermediate digital skills, with the aim of increasing digital literacy, particularly amongst women, girls and persons with disabilities. Key examples include:
The Girls in ICT Programme
This is an initiative by the Ministry of Communication and Digitalization and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that aims to train and equip girls between the ages of 9 and 15 with knowledge and skills in basic ICT and coding. 35 The implementation is funded by the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) and the training is undertaken by the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence ( KACE).36 Since its inception, nearly 8,000 girls have been trained, as well as 800 teachers have been trained to train more girls beyond the programme. 37
Digital Transformation Centres Programme (DTC)
GIFEC partners with the ITU, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and Cisco for the implementation of the Digital Transformation Centres (DTC). The centres assists with the broader goal of “building an inclusive digital society” as there is appreciation that lack of digital skills should not be a hinderance to full participation in the digital economy.38 The main is to empower a digitally literate populace in a manner that boosts their ICT capabilities in order for them to “participate meaningfully” in industry 4.0.39 The design of the programme looks towards developing digital skills that are basic to intermediate levels. 40Key examples include courses such as Introduction to Cybersecurity, Cybersecurity Essentials, Introduction to the Internet of Things, Python and Entrepreneurship.41
Coding for Kids
The initiative seeks to provide opportunities for the youth to explore the work of technology through interactive means of computer games, mobile apps and animation stories using programming language like JAVA script, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). 42
National Digital Academy
In partnership with The Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA), Ghana’s Ministry of Communications and Digitalization have launched the national digital academy in the country. The academy aims to improve digital skills qualifications, employability and meet the emerging talent needs of the state. 43
image is from www.eesc.europa.eu
1 MasterCard Foundation, Youth Africa Works, Jobberman Nigeria , Digital Sector, Skills Gap 
3 Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy ,National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030) < https://www.ncc.gov.ng/docman-main/industry-statistics/policies-reports/883-national-digital-economy-policy-and-strategy/file> last accessed 30th August 2022.
6 ibid pg 11.
8 ibid..pg 24.
17 Nigeria: Empowering Youths Through Digital Literacy and Skills
< https://allafrica.com/stories/202207210039.html> last accessed 29th August 2022.
19 Microsoft collaborates with the Nigeria Government to accelerate digital transformation in the country
22 Federal Minsitry of Youth and Sports Development, The Nigeria Youth Employment Action Plan 2021-2024 , < https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—africa/—ro-abidjan/—ilo-abuja/documents/publication/wcms_819111.pdf> last accessed 1st September 2022.
27 National Information Technology Development Agency Strategic Road Map 2021-2024 , < https://nitda.gov.ng/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/NITDA-ROADMAP.pdf> last accessed 2nd September 2022.
28 International Finance Corporation , Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa ; Spotlight on Ghana, 49 < https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/ed6362b3-aa34-42ac-ae9f-c739904951b1/Digital+Skills_Final_WEB_5-7-19.pdf?MOD=AJPERES> last accessed 22nd January 2023.
32 The World Bank , Ghana Digital Economy Diagnostic Report 
< https://thedocs.worldbank.org/en/doc/412821598381054828-0090022020/original/GhanaDE4ALOWRes.pdf > last accessed 3rd September 2022.
43 SADA launches national digital academy in Ghana, < https://ventureburn.com/2022/05/sada-launches-national-digital-academy-in-ghana/> last accessed 12th January 2023.