At the heart of any government’s successful digital transformation must be a digital-first culture. This needs to incorporate data-driven decision-making, collaboration, agile thinking and a citizen-centric approach that can drive innovation, improve delivery of services and boost economic prosperity. However, all too often, it is the gap in digital capabilities and skills that holds back efforts to unlock digital transformation. This is why I was privileged to travel to Ghana to attend the recent launch of the TBI Digital Academy, in conjunction with the Ghanaian government’s DigSMART programme, as part of efforts to fast-track digitalisation in Africa.
TBI Digital Academy, developed and deployed by the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) for Global Change, with the support of Panoply Digital, will equip people working in government with the skills that empower them to champion and use digital resources to transform their departments and agencies. As part of TBI’s mission to broker innovative solutions for public good by bringing together governments, organisations and tech platforms through The Tomorrow Partnership, the academy embodies our commitment to delivering practical benefits to countries and their people. It was inspiring to witness this in action as policymakers, leaders, digital-skills experts and technologists came together to launch this new initiative.
Over the next six months, we will deliver training to policymakers in Ghana, Senegal and Malawi, both in person and virtually. The programme has been crafted by curriculum and digital-skills experts to engage participants through an activity-based approach. The course content, curated to internationally recognised standards, aims to equip participants with the knowledge needed to identify problems for which digital technology can provide solutions as well as support them to develop measurable goals, and execute technology projects that prioritise people’s needs and experiences. We will work alongside participants as they are assessed on knowledge, skills, attitude, peer learning and feedback, attendance, activity participation and completion. Overall, the course will cultivate a digital mindset and culture, preparing learners for a technology-driven world.
The course also features a guided research project aimed at helping put lessons into practice and creating academy graduates with demonstrable experience of addressing real-life digital-transformation issues. We look forward to seeing participants utilise the project as a way to kick-start their department’s journey to digital transformation.
Empowering Innovation Across Public Services
TBI Digital Academy is training people working in government because of the crucial role they can play as agents of digital change across the public sector. As demonstrated in some digitally advanced countries, it is clear that embedding digital infrastructure across government delivers comprehensive benefits to citizens. In Africa there are good examples of successful initiatives; one is Rwanda’s eGovernment platform, which provides over 14 million users with access to more than 100 online services across 19 public institutions, saving approximately 25 million working hours in the first five years after its launch in 2015. Another is Kenya’s National Digital Masterplan, a well-rounded and progressive policy-development process that has delivered access to a wide range of digital services across sectors including education, health care, agriculture and finance.
However, in many developing nations, like those participating in TBI Digital Academy, progress towards digital transformation is slowed by limited resources, skills gaps, limited access to training and technological innovation, as well as infrastructural challenges. In some cases, the capacity of civil servants to lead the processes needed to make lasting positive change is not yet sufficiently robust.
At present, for example, only 11 sub-Saharan African countries out of 46 have national digital IDs with electronic components and associated public-service-delivery functions. Digital-ID systems are a key building block of enabling infrastructure, yet many countries continue to struggle to issue their citizens with a legal identity. Supporting people working in government to develop digital capabilities helps empower the broader public sector to innovate across infrastructure and service delivery, driving technological change in ways that will serve millions of citizens.
TBI Digital Academy exists to facilitate exactly this. With the right digital skills in place, leaders can create forward-looking policies and innovative eGovernment structures that improve people’s lives.
We will be providing regular updates on the progress of these training programmes over the next six months and on the participants themselves as they expand their knowledge and skills to become digital-transformation leaders.
If you are interested in knowing more about TBI Digital Academy or want to speak to our team about similar digital-skills opportunities, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org