AFRICA – Global networking solutions, Cisco and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have joined forces to tackle the digital skills gap, and Africa has been named as one of regions in which to kick-start this initiative.

According to It Web, Cisco and ITU plan to work with a network of institutions to run digital skills training programmes in specific tech areas through what they refer to as Digital Transformation Centres.

ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao said: “We are proud to partner with Cisco to enhance digital literacy.

 “We call on governments, the private sector, development agencies, local communities and other stakeholders to help us advance this initiative. Join us to boost digital skills to facilitate the digital transformation journey and accelerate the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

To kick-start the initiative, Cisco and ITU will identify 10 digital transformation centres to participate in the first phase, which will run for 18 months starting in January 2020.

The centres selected will be located in the Americas, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions, they highlight. Cisco and ITU say it is aimed at people who need basic digital skills to use digital tools and access e-services, and those who seek to enhance their basic and intermediate skills.

Further, it targets entrepreneurs who wish to develop their businesses, and it assists policy-makers in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes related to digital skills, with the overall objective of enabling a successful national digital transformation process.

According to Cisco, the Digital Transformation Centres Initiative builds on the existing collaboration between the organisations.

VP and GM of the Cisco Networking Academy, Laura Quintana, said, “We are excited to partner with ITU on the Digital Transformation Centre Initiative, which will leverage the Cisco Networking Academy to prepare individuals with skills in technology as well as in entrepreneurial areas where project-based learning and design thinking are critical,”

“Cisco’s objective is to help countries transform digitally and accelerate economic growth, and the collaboration between Cisco and ITU will be key to providing the needed human capital to support that transformation.”

The Digital Transformation Centres Initiative is expected to complement the existing work of the ITU Centres of Excellence network, which provides training to ICT professionals as well as the existing ITU efforts in enabling digital transformation at national and regional levels.