Digital Literacy, the Roadmap to Digital Trust

Categories : Blog


Author: Nolwazi Hlophe

The global digital economy is deepening, whilst widening another gap. The digital gap, without certain significant steps being taken, will widen with the rise of digital transformation. To briefly touch on how digital literacy can be a necessary condition towards digital trust, one must first understand what digital literacy actually is.

What is digital literacy?Digital literacy is the ability [skills] to navigate our digital world using reading, writing, technical skills, and critical thinking. It’s using technology—like a smartphone, PC, e-reader, and more—to find, evaluate, and communicate information.[1]” So, what are the skills required due to digital transformation? Some might be quick to assume that these mainly include basic ICT skills, however according to the ITU’s 2021 Digital Skills Insights[2], there are 3 skill sets that are required in the current and future digital environments which are up to advanced ICT skills.

According to the ITU, 46% of individuals in developing countries have basic ICT skills (skill set 1) and only 20% have intermediate ICT skills compared with developed countries, which have 65% and 49% respectively[3]. Significant capacity building for developing digital skills, where Digital Frontiers Institute delivers the course Inclusive Digital Economic Development[4], where students are given foundational knowledge of the digital economy with a focus on how the development of this sector can be increasingly inclusive. This training is tailor-made for the Global South where, as recognised by the ITU, online-based training for digital skills is recognised as a significant tool with outlined best practices.

Figure 1: Three Digital Skills Sets

Source: ITU (2021) pp40

Whether physical or digital, trust is at the core of every interaction. Now, what is digital trust? ISACA describes digital trust as how trust manifests itself in the digital world. This further means that digital trust is the assurance “in the integrity of relationships, interactions and transactions among suppliers/providers and customers/consumers within an associated digital ecosystem.[5]”. What does digital trust look like in practice? Figure 2 illustrates ISACA’s digital trust framework so that stakeholders know to engage with each other with the foundation of transparency, especially when it comes to data collection.

Individuals with digital skills have certain expectations of their service providers across the entire supply chain. They especially need to be assured of their information privacy, especially against data breaches. How can service providers be digital trust leaders? They can establish and deepen digital trust with stakeholders that they interact with by ensuring integrity, security, privacy, resilience, quality, reliability, and confidence in all their interactions.

[1] Microsoft (2023), “Discover digital literacy courses and resources”, available here.

[2] ITU (2021), “Digital Skills Insights 2021”, available here.

[3] See Footnote 2

[4] DFI (2023), “Inclusive Digital Economic Development”, available here.

[5] ISACA (2023), “Trust Digital Trust: A Modern-Day Imperative”, available here.