BY SEYIFUNMI LUMEKO
Forge Academy, South Africa’s first fully inclusive 4IR lab hosted a Digital Divide breakfast at their digital laboratory at The Gantry in Fourways, Gauteng.
The breakfast was attended by international dignitaries, multinational corporations and diplomats and was organised by the Finnish Embassy to address the Digital Divide that exists in Southern Africa and to discuss ideas on how to bridge the divide.
The Digital Divide breakfast was attended by the Ambassador of Finland, Anne Lammila; the Department of Basic Education’s, Seliki Tlhabane; Code School Finland’s Dr Marcus Duveskog and Founder and President of Funzi, Aape Pohjavirta.
“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 Arthur Wade Anderson, CEO of Forge Academy.
Finland and other Finnish organisations are working together 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.
“We feel the work of Finnish stakeholders is important to addressing Africa’s Digital Divide and we want to play a role in supporting their initiatives in any way we can,” said Anderson.
Finland has placed an emphasis on skills development in the tech sector and is leading the way with multiple projects such as their ‘Generation Equality’ work and programmes in Science, Technology and Innovation.
The Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Mirella Marin has affirmed Finland’s commitment to resolving the Digital Divide.
“As we look forward to brighter times, we must work towards a world where human rights are a reality for all and where no one is left behind,” said Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland during a public speech on YouTube, February 15 2021, for the Finnish candidacy to the Human Rights Council 2022 to 2024.
Forge Academy partners with Finnish multinational corporation Nokia, which have sponsored students to pursue tertiary diplomas, degrees, and postgraduate programmes at the Forge Academy 4IR laboratory.
Forge Academy uses a Finnish pedagogy of education at its 4IR laboratory, and its programmes are overseen by Finland’s educational experts, 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 Fourth Industrial Revolution and the global digital economy.