Meta’s chief decries Nigeria’s high digital illiteracy

The Director of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa at Meta, Adaora Ikenze, has expressed concern over the high digital illiteracy in Nigeria.

Speaking at a conference themed, ‘Leveraging Youth Power, Culture, and The Creative Economy: The Key to Africa’s Future,’ Ikenze noted that the high digital illiteracy in the country was affecting how people use technology and what they think their responsibilities were.

She said, “Let me start with the challenges and despite what is happening in this room and the conversation happening on this side of the room, the level of digital illiteracy in this country is outstanding.

“It is not enough that people have phones, and they have data, and that they can go online. People are still fundamentally illiterate about using technology, how technology impacts their lives, and their responsibilities when they use that technology. That I think is the biggest problem that we have, and I don’t hear enough conversations about how we are addressing that.”

She noted that journalists had a high task to educate readers and motivate them to real change. The event, which was organised by Africa Soft Power in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and African Women on Board, focused on the relationship between digital platforms, technology adoption, youth empowerment, and creative entrepreneurship.

The founder and Creative Director of Africa Soft Power, Nkiru Balonwu, said, “As a country and as a continent, it is imperative to include young people and women in every leadership space.

“From #endsars, to #Congoisbleeding and other several social movements that the continent has witnessed in recent years, we have seen what happens when we do not provide the needed inclusion and security for women and young people.

“We will continue to have these conversations, shining the light on the immense opportunities that Africa’s soft power, deeply rooted in its vibrant culture and youthful population, offers for growth.”

According to her, the advent of digital media and advancements in technology is providing African youths with platforms to express their talents, shape their narratives, and build successful careers across various industries.

Commenting on how insecurity is affecting youths from fulfilling their potential in the country, the Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development in Ekiti State, Akintunde Oyebode, noted that a big driver of insecurity in the country was the absence of consequences.

He said, “A big driver of crime is the absence of consequence. This is why you will find that in a society where there is an absence of consequence, people often gravitate towards crime.

“The challenge of security in Nigeria is a hydra-headed problem. In some parts of the country, there are major kidnappings ongoing. In other parts, there is a drug problem, but at the heart of it all is a clear admission that state capacity has been fourth-largestwaning for a while and has gotten to a point where it is simply incapable of responding to social issues.”

The founder and Chief Executive Officer of Glann Media Consult and former Editor of Guardian Life Magazine, Njideka Agbo, affirmed that the lack of security and inclusion was responsible for the brain drain in Nigeria and parts of Africa.

She noted that as of 2018, Nigerians were the fourth-largest group of asylum seekers in the European Union.

She added, “The level of patriotism that the youth show to their country is determined by the level of appreciation that they get from the government, alongside the security and inclusion that the country provides for them.”

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