Sophia Bekele, DCA founder, emphasizes role of digital connectivity at UNESCO forum


Sophia Bekele, founder of the Dot Connect Africa Trust (DCA), was among the invited speakers at the International and August bodies of UNESCO’s Third International Conference on Learning Cities to address the importance of Life Long learning, Entrepreneurship and Employment.

Hosted by Councilor Tony Fitzgerald, Lord Mayor of Cork, Ireland, the forum took place at the Cork City Hall, Concert Hall from September 18 to 20, 2017, and the opening session was attended by high level delegates including Richard Bruton, Minister for Education and Skills, Ireland; Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, USA; and Stanley Mutumba Simataa, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, who also spoke at the official opening ceremony. Mr Kabir Shaikh, Director a.i., UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning was present and presided over the UNESCO Learning City Award Ceremony held at the Cork City Hall.

(TOP: Sophia Bekele speaking at the UNESCO’s UNESCO’s Third International Conference on Learning Cities. Photo: Facebook). 

The conference was attended by delegates from different spheres including 46 City Mayors, Municipalities, Councillors of Education, Professors of Life Long learning, Development, Smart City and Industry experts who all shared their experiences over several sessions on the conference held under the theme: “Global goals, local actions: Towards lifelong learning for all in 2030“.

Speaking as a panelist at the session on Promoting Learning for Employment and Entrepreneurship, Bekele said that “digital connectivity and IoTs play a critical role in bettering lives of the youths as it opens the door to unprecedented knowledge, employment and financial opportunities for billions of people worldwide.”

She added that lifelong Learning on sustainable Development of cities has benefits that include addressing inequalities in the various sectors of the economy, providing beneficiaries with the opportunity and know-how to pilot SMEs through entrepreneurship, enabling job creation through innovations and creativity, enabling beneficiaries to obtain employment in the formal sector. It also contributes to improved living standards from high entrepreneurial activities and builds a key feedback mechanism to for critical analytics.

DCA is a Kenya-based organization which Bekele founded during her entrepreneurial journey, alongside other San Francisco-based ventures.  Since its inception, DCA has been an advocate for the value of education, employment and entrepreneurship for the African people.  Through mission, values and goals, it has led, promoted and advanced continuous learning by setting up DCA Digital Academy to mentor youth and girls in Africa.

Bekele emphasized that DCA Group has always believed in lifelong learning and through its programs the DCA Digital Academy provides training on various topics, all related to the Internet so as to increase Internet literacy and promote lifelong learning in Africa.   This provides the tools and skills to foster entrepreneurship and also connecting youth and women to innovation highways.  This way, added Bekele, Africa can be part of the foundations of a technologically aware society. The DCA Digital Academy’s mission is therefore aligned with UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, and 16.

While encouraging participants not to stop learning, Bekele quoted a proverb from scripture that “If you stop learning, you will forget what you already know.”

Other panelists at the UNESCO forum included Ms Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, Deputy Executive Director, UN-Habitat; Robert J. Didham, Deputy Director, Center for Collaborative Learning for Sustainable Development and UNESCO Chair for Education for Sustainable Lifestyles among others.

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