IGF 2018 WS #23 Revisiting digital literacy initiatives in Africa

Organizer 1: Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 1: Chenai Chair, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: BAUDOUIN SCHOMBE, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Yolanda Mlonzi, Civil Society, African Group


Round Table - 90 Min


Speakers have been chosen to reflect their expertise and practical experience in engaging in digital literacy projects in Africa, as well as their different viewpoints, given that they come from different backgrounds in terms of stakeholder group. This diversity will help stimulate the discussion and provide the audience with a broad range of perspectives. Each speaker will initially be given five minutes to present their views through a managed set of questions and answers with the moderator, to ensure the audience is brought up to speed with the debate on the subject. Shortly thereafter the moderator will ensure that they are given an opportunity to answer in a balanced manner.


This session aims to gather a variety of stakeholders to discuss how the failures of digital literacy initiatives as identified above can be addressed. We will ensure that all stakeholder groups are at the table, including civil society, industry who are developing training tools, and government, and efforts will be made to introduce new perspectives that have not been channeled in other fora. The organizers will encourage and incorporate remote participation into the session, and gender balance has been encouraged through speaker choices.

This roundtable session will be discussing how we can bring about an innovation in making sure we direct digital literacy programs to touch those who are considered as being responsible of the early education of our children as well. Our panelists will discuss the need to target these different groups of people who are considered as responsible of the first degree of education in Africa, namely, parents or household responsible, teachers in different schools and church leaders. When these groups are also educated in digital tools, they will be in a position to help their children to better master these skills because they are the ones who are spending time with them. We will also give the space for concrete examples of how Rudi International as an organization has been involved into digital literacy as well as the experiences of others in this area.

The panelists have been carefully selected for their expertise to allow the discussion to be grounded in the most up-to-date and relevant information. After their initial interventions, the moderator will actively seek to gather feedback and questions from the audience to ensure that participation in the discussion is as broad and interactive as possible.

We have seen a number of digital literacy initiatives developed in Africa, trying to help young people get online, encouraging to start using online tools. All these dynamics come from the need the bearers of these initiatives have to bring more people online, which is important, starting with the younger ones, who are the future. We also see value in making sure the next billion is connected. But it is not going any further for so many reasons. The issue with most of these initiatives is that they are not touching where the real need is, they are not targeting the right audiences who can then support this move. In many African cultures, it is said that any type of education starts in the family, then in school and/or church. But many initiatives focus on teaching young people, forgetting to associate their educators. And this is leading to less effectiveness because when these young people start discussing their learnings with their educators, these are not in a position to help because most of them were “born before computers” as it is said in Africa or are simply digital illiterate themselves.

Online Participation

The online moderator will work closely with the onsite moderator to prepare the session ahead of time, ensuring that they are aware of the questions and the topic areas that will be raised in the room. The online moderator will facilitate discussion ahead of the event, requesting questions and driving engagement and interest in the session on various social media platforms such as Twitter. The online moderator will generate interest in the weeks prior to the event through a targeted social media campaign, leveraging relevant Twitter hashtags. During the session itself, the moderator will facilitate the discussion online, highlighting the key points raised, as well as responding to questions received online and ensuring that they are raised in the room. Online attendees will have a separate queue and microphone, which will rotate equally with the microphones in the physical meeting room. Following the session, the speakers will all make themselves available for a moderated Q&A on Twitter.