Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic was greatly hampered by the shortage of digital skills across its countries, Secretary-General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), Mr. John Omo has said.
Omo who stated this while speaking at the Digital Africa Summit hosted by Huawei Technologies, which took place during AfricaCom 2021, pointed out that COVID-19 illustrated how wide the skills gap is in Africa.
According to him, “It was not just the lack of access to technology, which led to African economies falling behind during the pandemic, but also the lack of skills,” he said. “This situation provoked the realisation that as much as we must increase coverage, we must address the skills among youth.”
Africacom has for over 24 years being the largest connecting point for business leaders, tech experts, policymakers, and investors at the forefront of Africa’s digital transformation.
Speakers at the event engaged on Africa’s digital transformation, the strides made during the Covid 19 pandemic and the path still ahead, agreeing broadly that while Africa has come far in the past 18 months in its digital transformation, there is still much potential to fully embrace digital transformation and equip the continent’s youth with the skills they need to thrive in a digital economy.
According to VP, Huawei Southern Africa, Yang Chen, the digital economy already accounts for more than five percent of GDP in some African countries and that number could be more than doubled in countries that take a committed approach to digital transformation.
Nigeria is one of the countries with the highest ICT contribution to the GDP on the continent. Recently, the minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami disclosed that the ICT sector contributed 17.9% to the Nigerian economy in second quarter of 2021.
On his part, Deputy Director of Industry and Planning Research Institute CAICT, Chen Hui said the overall digital economy accounts for 38.6% of China’s GDP and employs more than 200-million people.
“Digitalisation spurs the development of new industries such as ecommerce and e-Government. It also disrupts existing industries to ensure lower costs and higher productivity and can empower emerging technologies like renewable energy. Digital technologies also increase economic resilience against shocks like COVID-19.
“Achieving this transformation, however, means going beyond simply adapting and evolving new technologies to old ways of doing things. It requires a full commitment to a ground-up transformation without delay. When it comes to seeing the benefits of taking this fully committed approach to digital transformation, African leaders can look to examples from their own continent as well as further abroad, ”he said.