ITU’s Digital Transformation Centres train over 80 000 people

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Women from underserved and marginalized communities made up 65 percent of 80 000 trainees in the first phase of ITU‘s Digital Transformation Centres (DTC) Initiative.

The Initiative, launched in September 2019, saw the ITU partner with technology conglomerate Cisco in nine countries to help strengthen the digital capacities of their citizens, particularly in underserved communities.

ITU has opened applications for the second phase of its DTC Initiative, aiming to close the persistent gap in digital skills worldwide. Interested eligible institutions can submit their applications by 31 August 2021.

“We want to leverage the momentum we gained in phase one, during which over 80 000 people from underserved and marginalized communities received digital skills training through nine DTCs. The popularity of this training has far exceeded what we anticipated, and greatly encourages us. Clearly, the pandemic has made everyone more aware of the need to be equipped with digital skills. ITU wants to expand the DTC network, but at a pace which will ensure that the quality of training is maintained,” said ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao.

In the first phase, DTCs were established in nine countries in Africa, Americas and Asia Pacific. The individuals who signed up for DTC courses received training in basic and intermediate digital skills.

“Closing the global digital divide is consistent with empowering people and communities, improving lives and livelihoods, and promoting sustainable development,” emphasized the Secretary-General. “Empowering people with essential digital skills is a key part of this – a challenge we are proud to tackle together with partners from the private sector.”

Doreen Bogdan-​Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said: “The pandemic underlined that digital skills are key to inclusion and leaving no one behind in today’s digital world. The lack of these skills is becoming the main barrier to digital participation, particularly in developing countries. ITU’s network of Digital Transformation Centres plays a crucial role in bridging the digital skills gap and ensuring that no one is left offline. That is why we are expanding the network to increase the number of DTCs globally. We are continuously engaging with new potential partners to collaborate with us in this Initiative.”

Application criteria

The second phase is open to applications from any eligible national institution that commits to being an active partner in the network.

Applying institutions must have the mandate, or the support of their national government, to foster digital capacity in their respective countries, as well as a proven track record in delivering digital skills training at basic and intermediate levels to local communities.
Selected DTCs become part of a global network that aims to accelerate digital uptake among citizens and boost the capacity of young entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to succeed in the digital economy.

Any proposed DTC requires a network of fully equipped physical training centres, along with sufficient resources to deliver digital skills training. Detailed criteria are available here.

The second phase of the DTC Initiative will commence operations from January 2022.

Going forward, more DTCs will be able to join the global network in order to reach a critical mass of people with digital skills training in countries and thus allow them to meaningfully participate in the digital economy.

Further information on how to apply to become a DTC is available here.

Benefits of participation

Institutions that become part of the DTC network will receive free access to training materials developed by ITU, Cisco, HP, and other partners at the global, regional and national levels; access to train-the-trainer programmes under the DTC Initiative; networking opportunities through DTCs worldwide; use of ITU and Cisco branding for promotion and marketing of DTC courses; authorization to award internationally recognized certifications to local citizens; and the chance get access to resources that will allow them to scale their national activities.

The first phase of the Initiative runs from January 2020 to August 2021, with nine DTCs: four in Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Rwanda, Zambia), two in the Americas (Brazil, Dominican Republic), and three in Asia-Pacific (Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines).

The courses offered are designed both for people who have never used a computer, as well as those with basic digital skills and those looking to enhance their entrepreneurial skills through information and communication technologies (ICTs).

ITU has promoted wider partnerships to support the Initiative with both financial and material resources. In November 2020, the Government of Norway joined the Initiative financially supporting the implementation of training through the DTC network. Going forward, ITU aims to mobilize more partnerships in the second phase of the Initiative, widen the network of DTCs and scale the number of training activities through a systemic engagement with partners both at national and international levels.