SIDP Policy Dialogue – Bridging the Digital Divide: A Step Towards Inclusive Digital Future

The British Council in collaboration with the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) organized a policy dialogue of the Skills for Inclusive Digital Participation (SIDP) Programme. The event took place on Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Kano state, Nigeria. We at Startup Kano were honored to be invited as one of the only two implementing partners of the programme from phase 1 to phase 3.

The theme of the dialogue, “Bridging the Digital Divide: Towards an Inclusive Digital Future for All,” resonated deeply with our mission at Startup Kano. The SIDP project, funded by the FCDO and implemented in Indonesia, Kenya, and Nigeria, aims to empower underserved communities by enhancing their digital literacy. Specifically, it addresses the challenges of digital inclusion and aims to provide access to educational and other opportunities, especially for youth, women, and People Living with Disability (PLWD).

The event brought together esteemed guests, including the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Kano State, the Honourable Commissioner for Education, KSMOE, and the Secretary to the State Government, Kano state, Nigeria. Their presence underscored the importance of government support in driving initiatives for inclusive digital participation.

Mrs. Oluseye Igbafe, serving as the facilitator and also a ELT, emphasized the transformative potential of technology in her address:

“As we keep on with this transformative journey towards inclusive digital participation, it’s essential to recognize the profound impact technology can have on our lives. With each step we take, let us remember that technology has the power to bridge socioeconomic divides, create opportunities for all, and ultimately, pave the way for a more equitable and prosperous future.”

Lucy Pearson, who happens to be the Country Director of British Council Nigeria, highlighted the importance of collaboration and showed how we can harness the transformative potential of digital technology by working together. In her speech, she said that

“The Phase 1, 2, and 3 of the SIDP have been an absolute success. A large number of individuals in several local government areas have strongly benefited from this program. We will continue to stand hand in hand with governments and communities. Together, we have the opportunity to harness the transformative potential of digital technology, ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital revolution. By fostering collaboration and embracing innovation, we can create a society where women, youth and PLWD have equal access to the opportunities afforded by the digital age.”

Midway in the programme, Gladys Gatiba, SIDP Programme Manager at British Council Kenya, joined the dialogue via Google Meet, providing an overview of the project’s progress and impact.

“Through the collaborative efforts of the SIDP Programme, we have opened doors of opportunity for thousands of individuals. From the beginning of the SIDP project till date, we have been able to cover 15 local governments. 4,100 beneficiaries benefitted from basic, 1,694 beneficiares did intermediate and we’ve reached over 10,000 people in participating countries.

From teaching basic to intermediate digital skills, our aim goes beyond closing the digital divide; we strive to build bridges that lead to a future where everyone can flourish in the digital age. By empowering communities, fostering innovation, and embracing inclusivity, we are laying the foundation for a more equitable and prosperous society.”

The SSA ICT to the Kano State governor shared a goodwill message, expressing the state government’s commitment to boosting digital literacy initiatives:

“In our unwavering dedication to shaping a brighter tomorrow, it’s imperative to recognize that digital literacy is not merely a skill but a catalyst for empowerment and progress. As we forge ahead, the Kano State government reaffirms its commitment to empowering our youth through initiatives that promote digital inclusion. By partnering with the likes of the British Council and equipping them with the necessary skills and resources, we can pave the way for a future where every individual can thrive in the digital landscape.”

The dialogue concluded with a renewed sense of commitment from all stakeholders to work collaboratively towards bridging the digital divide and creating a more inclusive digital future

for all.