ECA Revitalizes ICT-Initiative to Bridge Continental Digital Divide

ADDIS ABABA – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and its partners on Thursday launched a friendlier and comprehensive “Learning Girls in ICT Initiative” that is expected to help bridge the continental digital divide.

The launch of the Initiative marked the 10th anniversary of the International Day of Girls in ICT which is commemorated annually on Thursday to help bridge the gender digital divide.

To unveil the initiative, ECA and its sister agencies, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UN Women, and bilateral partners, jointly hosted a webinar under the theme ‘Connected African Girls, Creating Brighter Futures’.

“Digitalization offers a variety of opportunities for female empowerment and a more equal female participation in labor markets, financial markets, and entrepreneurship,” Jean-Paul Adam, the Director of the ECA’s Technology Division, said during the webinar.

With the lowest rate of internet penetration, the African region has the widest digital gender gap in the world where only 22.5 percent of women use the Internet, compared to 33.8 percent of men, according to the ECA.

“This gender gap is growing in some regions across the continent, reinforcing gender inequalities by denying women and girls’ opportunities to access education, find better-paid jobs, and start new businesses,” Adam noted.

The ‘Learning Girls in ICT-Initiative’ is an e-learning web platform, which is designed to offer essential technology education and skills to young women and girls, said Mactar Seck of the ECA’s Tech division.

The initiative aims at promoting Africa’s integration, generating inclusive economic growth as well as stimulating job creation.

Seck also explained that the e-knowledge portal was also expected to help bridge the digital divide, eradicate poverty for the continent’s socio-economic development, ensure Africa’s ownership of modern tools of digital management, and boost its burgeoning knowledge economy.

“Through this launch, the ECA is helping to build a bridge that will encourage more women and girls in the continent to take on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEAM),” he said.

With the launch of the ‘Learning Girls in ICT-Initiative, the ECA is revitalizing and upscaling the African Information Society Initiative which it initiated in 1996 as a continental comprehensive framework on ICT-for Development and laying the foundation of the information society in Africa.