Local Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) laboratory and education facility Forge Academy on April 28 said Finland has reiterated its intention to help narrow the digital divide in Southern Africa by focusing on skills development in the technology sector.
“The global digital divide poses a challenge to the realisation of building inclusive economies where all individuals have access to education, freedom of association and equal opportunities. Citizens of poorer nations have fewer opportunities to access the global digital economy and bridging the digital divide is therefore important to ensure the human rights of all citizens both online and offline,” said Forge Academy CEO Arthur Wade Anderson.
Finland, during a virtual meeting hosted by Forge Academy and the Finnish Embassy and attended by Finland ambassador to South Africa Anne Lammila, said it has placed an emphasis on skills development and hosts multiple projects such as the ‘generation equality’ work, as well as programmes in science, technology and innovation.
Finland and Finnish organisations are working with South African stakeholders to address the digital divide that exists in South Africa and the broader Southern African region.
Finland is the first bilateral partner to support the development of South Africa’s National Innovation System and continues to support it through the regional programme for Southern Africa, said Anderson.
“We feel the work of Finnish stakeholders is important to address Africa’s digital divide and we want to play a role in supporting their initiatives in any way we can,” he said.
Forge Academy has partnered with Finnish information and communications technology equipment and services company Nokia, which has sponsored students to pursue tertiary diplomas, degrees and postgraduate programmes at the Forge Academy 4IR laboratory.
Forge Academy works in close association with the Finnish Embassy, Nokia and other corporates to provide an enabling space for students and startup businesses that rely on 4IR technologies.
“Forge Academy uses a Finnish pedagogy of education at its 4IR laboratory, and its programmes are overseen by Finland education specialist company EduExcellence. The educational facility is on a mission to forge people of purpose and prepare African and South African students from all walks of life with theoretical, laboratory and on-the-job training for their participation in the 4IR and the global digital economy,” said Anderson.