Chief Executive Officer of the National Commission of Research Science and Technology (NCRST) Professor Anicia Peters says that digital literacy in Namibia remains a concern amidst growing career opportunities in Artificial Intelligence (AI).
She was speaking on Saturday on the sidelines of Youth Quake Namibia’s annual event in Khomasdal, Windhoek.
This year’s event was held with special focus on promoting digital rights among the youth.
Peters briefed the youth on the AI-powered democracy, empowering young voices in the digital era.
During her engagement, she discussed digital literacy and the emerging AI developments around the world, and also touching on employment creation.
“There are new jobs that were created since December; one of them is, for instance, prompt engineering. There are developers across Africa, who are currently busy developing the different African languages to have a translation tool,” she said.
According to Peters, many Namibians are digital illiterate.
She advised people to learn how to analyse information and make sense of what is real and what is fake, which, she said, is what digital literacy is.
“Make sense out of it and critically analyse it and say this is bogus and that is real, that is digital literacy,” she said.
According to World Economic Forum’s (WEF) The Future of Jobs Report 2023, by 2027 69 million new jobs will be created as a result of AI, while 83 million jobs will be eliminated.
AI machine learning specialists, sustainability specialists, business intelligence analysts and information security specialists are forecasted to be amongst the fastest-growing jobs, while the largest absolute growth is expected in education, agriculture and digital commerce.
Thw young people who attended the Powering Up Politics Youth Mobilisation in the Digital Age session by Rivaldo Kavanga from the Children’s Parliament of Namibia deliberated on how digital platforms empower the youth for political causes.
Speaking at the same event, political and international relations analyst, and African Affairs commentator Suzie Shefeni stressed the importance of understanding digital literacy’s impact on policy advocacy and policy influence.
“There are certain processes and procedures that go into changing policy, into introducing policy and even into scrapping policy,” she said.
Shefeni said one of the most critical skills is knowledge about how policy implementation works in Namibia and the different avenues that one can take in order to change a policy.
“It is important to be aware of things like algorithms and the underlying systems and processes that are embedded in digital systems that influence who sees your posts in the first place.”
“You can write up policy briefs, but if you are not aware of digital things like algorithmic gatekeeping and echo chambers, and our vulnerability to polarisation on the internet, you can start an initiative that is popular among people who share the same beliefs as yours, but has no impact on wider society,”Shefeni explained.