Digital literacy is a cornerstone of national development, and foundational for digital transformation. It provides individuals with the skills, abilities, and expertise to engage with the potential of digital technologies in all aspects of their lives, from education and communication to businesses and livelihoods. For example, IDB has developed a comprehensive strategy aimed at enhancing the digital skills of citizens in Chile, Colombia, and El Salvador. Beyond building basic digital literacy, it also seeks to address critical issues such as territorial disparities, gender gaps, and digital divides that may hinder equal access to opportunities.
With the increasing digitalization of many aspects of our lives from health care to public services, digital literacy is not static, and countries need a lifelong-learning approach that provides digital upskilling and reskilling outside of traditional educational routes. This is particularly relevant in the context of emerging technologies, including AI, which have the potential to reshape and remake industries and jobs. Tailored national plans to build digital skills can help to shape more comprehensive and extended capacity-building.
To work toward achieving universal digital literacy, Rwanda harmonized and targeted policies to expand its e-government platform. The country also boosted access to smartphone ownership through its #ConnectRwanda initiative, which increased Internet affordability as well.
As of 2023, adult digital literacy in Rwanda is approaching 35 %, meaning more than one-third of citizens aged 18+ are able to access online services on their own. This is more than four times the rate in 2017 (8 %) following information from interviews. By coordinating policies across the government’s ministries, Rwanda was able to address the lack of digital literacy, and identify specific needs for each age group and geographic area in order to tailor capacity-building programmes.