Putting the Principles to the Test: Exploring the Causality between Digital Training and Digital Transformation

The Principles for Digital Development are commonly touted as best practice guidelines in digital development, but do they support digital capacity building, and in turn, national digital transformation? 

A session of the pilot Digital Principles Training of Trainers in London, 2020.

This year, with backing from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) Digital Access Program (DAP) and evidence from the 2019 Digital Principles Training Needs and Landscape Assessment report, the Digital Impact Alliance Digital (DIAL) is testing this theory by exploring variables that drive digital transformation. The project is twofold: DIAL and a local partner will pilot a training-of-trainers program in Kenya to deliver Digital Principles workshops and create a living map of national digital transformation drivers, while using Kenya as a case study. 

“The Digital Principles clearly support program design, and while we believe they can enhance digital literacy, the linkage is unclear,” says Claudine Lim, Manager of the Digital Principles. “By identifying digital transformation factors and demonstrating how a Digital Principles community of practice can produce digitally-minded leaders, we hope this project can prove that connection.” 

Kenya, one of the Digital Access Program’s five partner countries, was selected for its baseline capacity and the maturity of its activities. The project’s training piece will build upon existing Digital Principles training resources and will offer an accreditation program to local groups. DIAL announced a new RFP last month soliciting accredited training partners based in Kenya to help adapt existing training materials, host a community of practice based on the Digital Principles, and develop a business model to sustain this program in the long term. The selected partner will be announced later this month. 

This week, DIAL released an RFP in search of a research partner who will collaborate with us to highlight key variables that accelerate country-level digital transformation and responsible data use, collect existing documentation of Kenya’s digital transformation journey to date, and build an evidence base of which factors were instrumental in Kenya’s digital transformation journey. The overall aim is to produce a digital transformation maturity template that will provide a framework for global use. 

The DAP Kenya pilot project supports DIAL’s new Digital Beacons Strategy, where over the next five years, DIAL will support global development actors’ national digital transformation efforts so that digital services and tools can reach more people. We believe that if a country understands digital transformation variables and invests in local capacity founded on the Digital Principles, then leaders who can design and manage the safe and responsible digital and data tools will emerge.  

We look forward to testing this hypothesis and even more so, sharing findings that will determine this project’s ongoing value and potential applicability to other contexts at a cross-country learning event planned in Spring 2022.