Bridging the digital skills gap in Africa: big tech TikTok steps in

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African countries scored between 1.8 and 5 on the Digital Skills Gap Index in 2022, significantly below the global average of six. This gap highlights the urgent need for improved digital literacy across the continent.

With only 50% of African countries including computer skills in their school curricula, compared to 85% globally, the role of big tech companies in bridging this gap has never been more crucial.

One notable initiative addressing this issue is the partnership between the GSMA, a global advocate for mobile operators, and TikTok, a leading short-form video platform. The collaboration aims to enhance digital literacy by incorporating a TikTok module into the GSMA’s Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit (MISTT). This toolkit provides a set of free resources designed to teach essential digital skills, aiming to help users navigate the digital landscape more effectively.

Below global average

Despite the growth in mobile service subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa, reaching 45% by the end of 2019, and an internet penetration rate of 47.1% in 2020, these figures remain below global averages. This underscores the need for targeted efforts to increase digital accessibility and literacy.

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The GSMA, representing over 750 mobile operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, is at the forefront of this initiative. By integrating TikTok tutorials into the MISTT, the partnership focuses on equipping individuals with practical digital skills. This effort is part of a broader commitment to fostering a more inclusive digital environment.

Necessary skills

David Saidden, Director of Distribution Business Development at TikTok, stated, “Our goal is to empower users through digital literacy. By collaborating with the GSMA, we aim to provide the necessary skills for education, business, and personal growth, driving digital inclusion and enhancing connectivity.”

This initiative is a step towards narrowing the digital divide in Africa, ensuring that more individuals have the digital skills needed to thrive in today’s global economy. As big tech companies like TikTok join forces with organisations such as the GSMA, there is hope for a more digitally literate and connected future for Africa.


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