Nearing the time limit……….Sustainable Development Goals

Two months ago, I had the privilege of being the Social Media Ambassador for the United Nations Commission of Science and Technology development (CSTD) . As a leader in the broader areas of science, technology and innovation, and especially taking into account my work at Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) , I proudly joined team of experts, practitioners and academics in helping promote these topics. Topics to highlight included building digital skills to benefit from technological advances (for youth and women), harnessing technological progress to improve lives and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), recent trends in science and their implications for the future of the world and the impact of rapid technological change on the achievement of the SDGs.

Estimates indicate that 85%-90% of future work will require ICT skills by 2020. Yet reports show that about 263 million children and youth are still out of school. How do we achieve the skill demand with still a larger percentage not even having access to basic education? Technology must be harnessed to deliver on the ambitious and time bound global goals.

Looking into future of work and skill demand for jobs in the 21st century, emerging technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial intelligence and Internet of Things will play an enormous role. Over the years, we have experienced great technological advances. Though frontier technologies are almost replacing human efforts, it’s critical to note that successful implementation of SDGs entails a combination of different aspects such as people, process, data & things. This is why a competent technology workforce is key to achieve these goals.

I am compelled by the mission of Youth for Technology Foundation, an international organization I work for, which entails creation of enriched learning communities where appropriate technology affords opportunities for marginalized youth and women. While focusing on achieving global goals, marginalized youth, girls and women are mostly left out. This is why meaningful partnerships with the government and private sector is key to make sure even them have access to technology.

Science, technology & Innovation plays a key role of ensuring quality education is achieved. In many African countries neither the education curriculum nor community, encourage girls interest in STEM subjects. As a result, girls who are not exposed to ICT subjects disengage in possibilities and opportunities. Technology plays a huge role in ensuring gender equality is achieved through STEM. Technology has resulted to increased capacity in life and livelihood skills. Girls are particularly inspired by social service aspects of making and creating and this brings to the realization of impacting them with STEM skills.

So recently we witnessed developing countries being very receptive to emerging and disruptive technologies. Sierra Leone had the first blockchain powered elections. Also, Kenya had its first bitcoin ATM machine and the first ever satellite launched into space. It is eminent that developing nations yearn for the change which technology brings. Technology encompasses all sectors. Envisioning future of work, 21st century jobs demand unique applications of technology skills in programming, robotics engineering, innovation & 3dprinting technologies. Kenya launched a digital literacy program in schools with a new curriculum which incorporates ICT. Technology boosts international development.

The widening gap between the knowledge, skills and abilities of young people entering the workforce and what employers seek is identified as an important deterrent to growth. On this year’s International Youth day,I proudly celebrate youths from all over the world knowing that they are assets. African youth make up nearly 40% of the working population yet 60% are unemployed. A nation with empowered, inspired and motivated youth is envisioned for rapid development. Technology is a key aspect through which we can achieve SDGs in developing countries. Empowering youth is a breakthrough strategy for achieving SDGs. I had an incredible week sharing and learning all things. I envision a rapid achievement of SDGs & an amazing impact in developing nations.