ITU Telecom World 2019 | ITU, Cisco launch digital transformation initiative


ITU, in partnership with Cisco, has launched the Digital Transformation Centers Initiative to equip people with the skills needed to effectively participate in today’s digital society and economy.

Through this initiative, launched today at ITU Telecom World, ITU and Cisco will work with a network of institutions to run digital skills training programmes in specific tech areas.

Providing digital skills training is key to bridging the digital divide. Digital skills are needed at all levels: at the basic level, to help people connect and benefit from Internet services and applications; at the intermediate level, to help students and job seekers get the necessary skills required by the digital economy; and at the advanced level to increase the pool of ICT experts and meet the demands of the industry.

This initiative targets people who need basic digital skills to use digital tools and access e-services and those who seek to enhance their basic and intermediate skills. It also targets entrepreneurs who wish to develop their businesses and it assists policy-makers in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes related to digital skills, with the overall objective of enabling a successful national digital transformation process.

The initiative will rely on a multistakeholder partnership for its success.

“We are proud to partner with Cisco to enhance digital literacy,” says ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “We call on governments, the private sector, development agencies, local communities and other stakeholders to help us advance this initiative. Join us to boost digital skills to facilitate the digital transformation journey and accelerate the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Digital Transformation Centers Initiative builds on the existing collaboration between the two organizations.

“We are excited to partner with ITU on the Digital Transformation Center Initiative which will leverage the Cisco Networking Academy to prepare individuals with skills in technology as well as in entrepreneurial areas where project-based learning and design thinking are critical,” says Laura Quintana, Vice President and General Manager of Cisco Networking Academy. “Cisco’s objective is to help countries transform digitally and accelerate economic growth, and the collaboration between Cisco and ITU will be key to providing the needed human capital to support that transformation.”

To kick-start the initiative, ITU and Cisco will identify 10 Digital Transformation Centers to participate in the first phase, which will run for 18 months starting in January 2020. The Centers selected will be located in the Americas, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.

“Today half the world is online, but raw connectivity alone will not solve development challenges,” says Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. “Research shows that lack of digital knowledge and skills has emerged as a major barrier to Internet uptake, digital inclusion and digital transformation, especially in developing countries. The Digital Transformation Centers Initiative is designed to strengthen the effectiveness of current activities in the field of capacity development by providing training programmes to meet and address local needs, and address technology trends, developments and gaps. It is also a step forward to help our membership implement their regional initiatives in this field.”

The Digital Transformation Centers Initiative will complement the ILO-ITU Digital Skills for Jobs Campaign, which is part of the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, and will directly contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

It will also complement the existing work of the ITU Centres of Excellence network, which provides training to ICT professionals as well as the existing ITU efforts in enabling digital transformation and national and regional levels.