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Ethiopia’s youthful demographic crucial to achieve digital transformation: WEF

Addis Ababa, March 18, 2024 (FBC) – Ethiopia’s large proportion of youthful population is a pivotal factor to achieve the Digital Transformation Strategy, according to the World Economic Forum.

Launched in July 2020, Ethiopia’s Digital Transformation Strategy aims to harness technology to drive economic growth, citizen engagement, and improved quality of life. While the past three years have seen progress, a closer look reveals a digital landscape with promising developments and significant challenges to address.

It is known that Ethiopia boasts a large population exceeding 120+ million, a large proportion of which are young people. This youthful demographic presents a tremendous opportunity, with over 26 million Ethiopians enrolled in education. By harnessing the power of digital development, Ethiopia can equip this young generation with the skills necessary for future jobs, fostering innovation and driving inclusive economic growth across the nation, World Economic Forum underscored in its latest article on “Emerging Technologies”. WEF acknowledged that Ethiopia is pushing its digital transformation from its urban areas to remote rural areas.

Bridging a digital skills gap is key in achieving the digital transformation strategy, it was indicated.

To boost its digital transformation and to achieve the “Digital Ethiopia 2025 Strategy”, the country is working in collaboration with partners.

In March 2023, Ethiopia, through the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, launched a 5 year e-Government strategy and enterprise architecture implementation project which aims to transform all government services into digital system. The project is being implemented with financial and technical support secured from the European Union (EU).

To unlock the true potential of digital transformation, prioritizing e-government services, e-commerce platforms designed for local products and digital tools for health and education that can empower citizens, businesses and institutions is crucial, WEF noted.

Ethiopia has added a second telecom operator in Safaricom, a Kenyan mobile network operator, to boost the sector and is looking to add more operators into its vast market.

According to WEF, working on such expansions, such as internet access, particularly in rural areas, is critical for inclusive participation. Most importantly, comprehensive skilling, reskilling, and digital literacy training programmes must be designed to equip the population, especially the youth, with the necessary skills to navigate the digital world confidently. Expanding mobile use cases by developing and promoting mobile applications that cater to the specific needs of rural populations is also the other factor to achieve the digital transformation strategy.

By confronting these challenges head-on, Ethiopia can unlock the full potential of its digital transformation journey, WEF underlined. “Recognizing the critical role of collaboration, the Ethiopian government seeks partnerships with experienced organizations. Ethiopia has partnered with the EDISON Lighthouse Countries network as part of this initiative to help bridge its digital divide. This collaborative approach will accelerate the development of essential infrastructure, transformative platforms and crucial skilling and reskilling programmes. Ultimately, by working together, Ethiopia can create a truly inclusive digital economy that empowers all its citizens.”

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