In Africa, digital literacy has been limited by lack of quality internet connections, high costs for data and devices, inadequate skills and knowledge of how to use these technologies, and lack of internet access outside major cities. Bridging this skills gap is a priority because of the industries which could provide enhanced and sustainable livelihoods for those on the continent. – Written by Tina Shabalala
While it is clear that digital technology has infiltrated most industries, we’ve highlighted 5 sectors where digital literacy skills are essential for the economic development of Africa.
Digital literacy is essential for an effective education system because it opens up new avenues for learners to engage with knowledge outside the classroom. With the fluctuations in face-to-face interactions with teachers since 2020, online channels have become critical as a means for learners to stay up-to-date with the curriculum.
This means that learners and teachers need, not just access to the devices which enable online interaction, but also the skills to use this technology to enhance learning experiences and establish a solid foundation for learners’ futures.
From weather monitoring systems to wireless remote monitoring of irrigation systems, digital technology can maximise the impact of agricultural extension services, enhancing the skills of employees, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing profits.
People who are knowledgeable about agricultural technologies have the chance to grow quickly with increased access to information and international markets. Farmers can use digital tools for tasks like soil analyses and calculating water needs for more successful produce. The foundation of being able to use these technologies effectively is digital literacy wherein one understands how to effectively read and use the data provided.
As the healthcare sector transforms, digital literacy becomes a key skill for consumers. Consider your healthcare insurer – do they have an app which you can use to get access to a registered practitioner? Are healthcare practitioners able to provide online consultations?
As these practices become more commonplace, lack of foundational skills for e-health literacy may pose a challenge to individuals who need to use e-health resources to obtain health information and assistance.
4. Business and Finance
Growth of the entrepreneurial sector is key to addressing Africa’s unemployment crisis, especially amongst the youth. Since COVID-19, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa have the opportunity to embrace many solutions for touchless interactions, presented by digital technology, or risk missing out on the future of business.
According to a Visa South Africa survey earlier this year, 48% of consumers indicated that they prefer stores with digital payment options compared to one-on-one contact, while 59% of people prefer to engage in contactless money transactions in general. This means that businesses have had to pivot using digital technologies to accommodate customers’ preferences.
5. Technology-related industries
With increasing digitisation and the rapid expansion of the digital economy, the labour market has quickly evolved, requiring a workforce that possesses extensive digital skills.
“Digital disruption” affects roles that are not just information and communication technologies (ICT) specific but it also has implications for the broader workplace, as technology infiltrates key sectors of the economy through mechanisms such as payment gateways and reporting systems.
Today’s students need to be prepared for tomorrow’s jobs. Digify Africa’s WhatsApp bot, Lesedi, helps people learn digital literacy skills which are essential for these industries.
How can you start learning essential digital literacy skills? Just say hi to Lesedi, our free WhatsApp bot that will aid you with valuable skills for your future.
Lesedi is our interactive tool on WhatsApp where you can learn:
- How to be a responsible online digital citizen
- Your digital toolkit
- Online safety
- Critical thinking
- Online opportunities