In a bid to increase the contribution of the ICT sector to its economy, Nigeria sets a 95% digital literacy target over the next ten years under the Digital Economy Strategy.
Digital literacy has become more important for the growth of Nigeria’s developing economy, more so in these times that the country’s economy is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and a slump in oil prices.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Lagos State Government has kicked off a partnership with Microsoft Office to provide training in digital literacy for 18,000 secondary school teachers. The program aims to equip, engage, and train them on how to leverage technology to deliver classes during the lockdown.
On the other hand, and as a result of the obvious digital literacy gaps in the country, digital financial literacy is yet to see the uptake that it deserves. Companies like NetPlusDotCom have been organising webinars to sensitise Nigerians on the significance of an unavoidable transformation to digital payments and financing after COVID-19.
The fact is, there is an abundance of talent training outlets in Nigeria, such as Learn Factory and Decagon. These outlets offer training programs covering an array of specialised and advanced digital literacy skills in fields like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Software development.
With the hope of tapping into the services provided by these outlets, the country has come up with a Digital Economy Strategy aimed at meeting a 95% digital literacy target within the next ten years. The goal is to make the ICT sector more active in the Nigerian economy. Last year, the ICT sector generated 13.8% of the country’s GDP, higher than the contribution from the Oil and Gas sector, which had hitherto been the country’s cash cow.
Unfortunately, the development of digital financial literacy in Nigeria is bedevilled by certain challenges including;
• Policy Implementation: existing regulations aimed at promoting digital literacy are not implemented.
• Difficulty in Conceptualisation: digital literacy is considered to be too difficult to theorise, so it is assumed that the layman will find understanding the process a bit difficult.
• Resistance to Change: most times people resist change. Having the same attitude towards digital literacy hurts the promotion of digital financial literacy.
• High Infrastructure Costs: power and access to the internet are quite costly, and they are important for promoting digital financial literacy.
• Digital Divide: some unreached communities are unaware of the concept of digital literacy.
• Scepticism: there are pockets of Nigerians who are sceptical about the digital literacy program.
• School Curriculum: there is no component of digital literacy in the regular curriculum. This is necessary for the future.
• Government and other institutions should invest in research and development to help Nigerians become more acquainted with international standards of promoting digital literacy.
• Tax incentives/reliefs for telecoms companies to enable them to reduce data costs. While the telecoms companies can in turn provide ICT parks for free internet access.
• Create awareness and engage citizens more on existing and new digital literacy policies.
• Organisations with works centered on digital literacy should partner with schools to come up with a more robust curriculum.
• To stop the resistance to change, orientation programsshould be developed to emphasise the need for digital literacy using a bottom-top approach in reaching out to people in rural communities.
• Partnerships between Government, civil society groups, and multilateral organisations should be considered. This provides an avenue for reaching under-served communities in the local language to avoid indifference due to language barriers.