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British Deputy High Commissioner Urges Nigeria to Prioritize Internet Access for Digital Economy Growth

British Deputy High Commissioner Urges Nigeria to Prioritize Internet Access for Digital Economy Growth

In a recent address in Lagos, Johny Baxter, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, emphasized the critical role of increased internet access in Nigeria’s pursuit of growth in its digital economy agenda. Baxter highlighted the necessity for faster and affordable internet infrastructure alongside an encouraging regulatory environment to foster digital innovation and inclusion.

Speaking at an event honoring individuals involved in empowering women and young girls with digital skills through the CyberHubs initiative, Baxter underscored the United Kingdom’s firm belief in Nigeria’s digital sector’s future growth story. He stressed the importance of a multifaceted approach, combining improved internet accessibility, regulatory facilitation, skilled talent development, and access to investment and partnership opportunities.

Baxter acknowledged the challenges faced by women and girls in participating in the digital economy, describing it as a space where everyone should have equal opportunities. He emphasized the need for inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), digital, and cyber sectors, advocating for initiatives to empower women and girls with relevant skills and opportunities.

Highlighting the UK government’s efforts to empower Nigerian women with digital skills, Baxter referenced the 10-year Women and Girls’ strategy launched on International Women’s Day, demonstrating their commitment to addressing gender inequality globally. He cited the Digigirls program, which trained and upskilled over 6,800 women and girls in its first two cohorts, albeit representing only a fraction of the total applicants.

Recognizing the need for broader impact, Baxter explained a shift towards leveraging local technology hubs to deliver upskilling programs to women and girls. This strategic move, he noted, yielded significant results, with the Cybersafe Foundation training 59,900 women and girls in collaboration with 200 volunteer Alumni DigiGirls and 60 hubs across 22 states in Nigeria.

Confidence Staveley, Founder/Executive Director of Cybersafe Foundation, commended the UK Government’s support through the DigiGirls program, which facilitated the provision of employable digital skills to over 70,000 women and girls across Nigeria. Staveley emphasized the urgency of equipping women with digital skills, citing a recent USAID report predicting that 90% of global jobs will soon require digital proficiency.

Staveley highlighted the inherent disadvantage women face without digital skills, hindering their participation in the workforce and broader digital economy. She stressed the imperative of including women to prevent societal and economic repercussions resulting from excluding half the population from digital opportunities.

The collaboration between the UK Government and local initiatives like the Cybersafe Foundation underscores a shared commitment to addressing digital inclusion and gender equality in Nigeria’s evolving digital landscape. Through targeted interventions and strategic partnerships, stakeholders aim to bridge the digital divide and empower women and girls to thrive in the digital economy.

As Nigeria navigates its digital transformation journey, prioritizing internet access, regulatory facilitation, and skills development will be crucial in realizing its full potential in the digital era. The collective efforts of government, international partners, and grassroots organizations signal a promising trajectory towards a more inclusive and prosperous digital future for all Nigerians.

This Article is Fact-Checked. See Policy.
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