Africa’s ICT Skills Development Index (ISDI)

An African skills development index is needed to help countries prepare their workforce for work in the new economy. The index can be built around four parameters, namely access, equity, quality, relevance and finance.

Africa’s youth population bulge has hogged headlines for almost 10 years and governments across the continent are doing their best to empower the youth. A lot is being done within and across different sectors and countries but there is no clear view of the progress being made. Nations should be able to measure whether they are making progress or not in ICT skills development.

Public and private initiatives are contributing to the solution of African youth skills development but there is not enough tracking and reporting of these initiatives. This has a direct impact on policy formulation. Are our policy makers being directed by data? Are they responding to empirical resullts for success in the future?

The Education Support Forum (TEDSF) believes that Africa needs to formulate an ICT Skills Development Index (ISDI) that can help governments tailor effective programs for youth development.

ICT Skills development has emerged as a key strategy to realize the potential of a young workforce by enhancing their employability and entrepreneurship.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has developed the ICT Development Index (IDI) which looks at ICT readiness, intensity and impact. The main objectives of the IDI are to measure:

  • The level and evolution over time of ICT developments within countries and the experience of those countries relative to others.
  • Progress in ICT development in both developed and developing countries
  • The digital divide, i.e. differences between countries in terms of their levels of ICT development.
  • The development potential of ICTs and the extent to which countries can make use of them to enhance growth and development in the context of available capabilities and skills.

The Index is designed to be global and reflect changes taking place in countries at different levels of ICT development. It, therefore, relies on a limited set of data which can be established with reasonable confidence in countries at all levels of development. The 11 indicators used in the list to determine a country’s ranking are:

1. Fixed-telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
2. Mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
3. International Internet bandwidth (bit/s) per Internet user
4. Percentage of households with a computer
5. Percentage of households with Internet access
6. Percentage of individuals using the Internet
7. Fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
8. Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
9. Mean years of schooling rate
10. Gross enrolment ratio secondary level
11. Gross enrolment ratio tertiary level

The OECD has already come up with a skills development index that uses 64 indicators that fall under five broad areas of factors of:

  • contextual factors
  • skill acquisition
  • skill requirements
  • skill mismatch
  • economic and social outcomes

The work by the OECD through the WISE Database is handy in helping Africa come up with its own. The WISE database provides a statistical snapshot of skills development in 214 countries. While not all of these indicators are available for every country, the database can be used to examine the skills challenges and performance of each country from a comparative perspective.

It is vital that African governments transforms into mission-driven institutions whose policies reflect and help realize the potential of Africa’s demographic advantage by addressing challenges such as aspirations and mobilization of youth, quality and relevance of training; access to training, inclusivity and leveraging available technology.

African countries should focus on skills development at scale with speed and standards, with a focus on strengthening institutional training, infrastructure, convergence, training of trainers, overseas employment, sustainable livelihoods and leveraging public infrastructure.

TEDSF is at an advanced stage in formulating ISDI, Africa’s flagship ICT skills development measurement tool.


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