By Chinenye Anuforo
CyberSafe Foundation, a non-governmental organization in the Digital Development space in collaboration with the United Kingdom (UK) government has launched DigiGirls training programme in the country.
DigiGirls training program organised by Cybersafe Foundation is funded by the Foreign Development and Commonwealth Office of UK Government.
The program is set to improve the socio-economic well-being of 2400 girls and women (15-40 years old) living in underserved communities in Nigeria, by empowering them with employable digital skills through intensive training, mentorship, internship/job placement or entrepreneurship opportunities.
During the duration of this training, participants will be exposed to computing and cybersecurity fundamentals, digital entrepreneurship skills and upon choosing a desired career path, will be taken through an appropriate learning path to get hands-on skills, mentorship, and get internship/job shadowing opportunities.
In her opening remark, Confidence Staveley, founder of CyberSafe Foundation, bemoaned the vast untapped resource – girls whose education has been cut-short or denied altogether, who could be leading efforts to pull their communities out of poverty.
“At Cybersafe Foundation, we are working to ensure inclusive and safe digital access across Africa, we are super excited to be implementing the DigiGirls Project, enabled by the commitment and funding from the UK Government”.
Staveley said that lowering the digital gender divide in Nigeria has become a matter of urgency as a recent USAID report, shows that over 90 percent of jobs worldwide have a digital component, and, without these skills, just like Julie, women are automatically disadvantaged and do not have the confidence to participate in the digital workforce.
She said that DigiGirls is a program that will contribute to ensuring safe and responsible use of digital, tackle gender-based violence through economic empowerment of women, support inclusive and sustainable economic recovery post pandemic, increase the number of digitally skilled Nigerians, foster lasting poverty reduction and alleviate tough economic realities for women and girls in Nigeria.
“Ultimately, the goal is to close the digital gender gap that is causing unemployment/underemployment of women and girls especially for the underserved and vulnerable in our communities.
“In few days of opening applications for this program, we received over 12,000 signups, proof that DigiGirls is a timely and much needed intervention. Sadly, we could only accept 2400 of these women and girls across Nigeria, with only 10% learning on-site in our Lagos and Kaduna hubs. We will, through this program provide free basic to intermediate digital skills and soft skills training, mentorship, internship and job placement to our beneficiaries, thanks in no small way to the UK Government. We are very grateful to the UK Government for co-designing and funding the DigiGirls program through its the Digital Access Program”.
She also expressed gratitude to the infrastructure partners; The Federal College of Education (technical) Akoka, and KAD ICT hub for providing the on-site learning facilities.
Speaking at the Programme inauguration in Lagos Catriona Laing, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, reiterated UK Government’s commitment to being a global science and technology partner, working with others to develop solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, including on digital skills.
In Nigeria, Laing said, science, tech and innovation provide opportunities for sustainable economic transformation – not least through the dynamic tech sector.
In her words, “The UK firmly believes in the future growth story of Nigeria’s digital sector (currently the ICT sector contributes about 15% to Nigeria’s GDP, and certainly more than oil).
“To continue to drive this growth, Nigeria needs a combination of: increased access to affordable, faster and better quality internet, an encouraging regulatory environment, a skilled talent pool, and access to investment and partnership opportunities”.
On the DigiGirls project, Laing reiterated that the UK supports Nigeria in its bold ambition to create 100m jobs in 10 years and we believe that the Digital Economy can play a major part in unlocking this.
“Improving girls’ access to education is a key part of the UK’s G7 Presidency and is at the heart of global efforts to build back better from the pandemic.
“Over the next 6 months, the DigiGirls programme will provide basic and intermediate digital skills training to 2400 vulnerable women and girls. This will include mentorship, internship placements and entrepreneurship opportunities.
“This programme will also contribute to addressing the digital inequality in Nigeria – that currently holds a 15% gender gap against women.
“I want to thank our implementing partners – the CyberSafe Foundation led by Confidence Staveley, and the great mentors and representatives of the tech sector here today – for their excellent work so far and for continuing to champion inclusive digital development in Nigeria”.
She urged the beneficiaries to take advantage of the opportunity; take the trainings seriously and benefit from this project.