I have spent years working around digital literacy. I've had the privilege to support Pwani Teknowgalz's work through Africa Code Week, Mombasa Girls in STEM, Google CS Clubs, CodeHack, Coders at American Spaces & many other programs. Through these programs we were able to get a lot of young ones excited about technology and the impact it can have in their lives, from simple Google search to find information, use of social media to boost your business, use of tools like canva.com to make stunning graphics. Some of these programs helped students get excited about science and mathematics subjects resulting in their exam scores going up. There are those who got into careers like social media marketing, website and graphic design. It's always amazing to see how one to two hour sessions can have an impact on one's life.
The internet has enabled us to be able to go to remote places and do digital literacy sessions. There are areas where internet coverage was very low but we were able to make it work. Internet access is a huge challenge with regards to getting folks to participate in the digital economy. There are places where you only have a single mobile network provider because the others have not invested in getting those locations covered by their network. One is subjected to a single choice of network provider, in most cases you find this single provider charges a lot or has no internet bundle offers that are pocket friendly.
Besides internet access, devices are another challenge. In one program I supported we used the tablets that were supplied to schools by the government through the ICT Authority in the Ministry of ICT. Some of these tablets had not left the boxes they came with. The availability of these tablets was a huge plus. The challenge now is access to the devices outside the school.
The one challenge with digital literacy programs is sustainability of the trainings. Will the attendees be able to continue learning/practising when we leave? With the introduction of data and airtime taxes it will get harder for most to invest in learning through the internet and to access information. Beyond digital literacy there are a lot of young people who are self-employed through the different services they offer over the internet. When you cannot have people afford internet access it becomes harder for potential customers to see the importance of digital for their businesses. This increased taxation is implemented at a very wrong time, we are still in the covid-19 pandemic.