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The Digital Transformation Centres (DTC) Initiative was launched in September 2019 by ITU in partnership with Cisco with the objective of supporting countries to strengthen digital capacities of citizens, particularly in the underserved communities. The selected DTCs become part of a global network of institutions to accelerate the uptake of digital technologies among citizens and boost the capacity of young entrepreneurs and SMEs to succeed in the digital economy. 

Primary function

The primary function of DTCs is to: 

  • Deliver basic digital skills training to enhance digital literacy and foster uptake of digital tools among those at the bottom of the social pyramid. 
  • Deliver intermediate digital skills training to provide users with job-ready skills, improve workplace efficiency and enhance chances of employability. 
  • Improve the capacity of policymakers to design and implement digital skills programmes. 
  • Conduct train-the-trainer programmes on digital skills to ensure scalability and self-sustainability in digital skills capacity development. 
  • Train SMEs in the field of digital technologies, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Institutions that become part of the DTC network receive free access to training materials developed by ITU, Cisco, HP, and other partners at the global, regional and national levels; access to train-the-trainer programmes under the DTC Initiative; networking opportunities through DTCs worldwide; use of ITU and Cisco branding for promotion and marketing of DTC courses; authorization to award internationally recognized certifications to local citizens; and increased visibility which can result in access to resources that will allow the DTCs to scale their national activities. 

First phase

9 DTCs were selected for the first phase which ran from January 2020 to end of August 2021. The 9 DTCs were from Africa (4), Americas (2), and Asia Pacific (3) regions.  

Despite the Covid-19 challenges, the DTCs conducted 1’230 training activities during phase 1 of the Initiative, resulting in the training of 106’388 citizens at basic and intermediate level across the 9 countries, with 40’812 in the Americas, 38’897 in Asia-Pacific and 26’679 in Africa. The share of female participants represented 65% of the total people trained.  
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, DTC trainers were provided with tools and skills on how to conduct remote teaching. The train-the-trainers online courses were offered in collaboration with Cisco free of charge. A total of 658 instructors and teachers worldwide went through the training.  

In addition to ITU, Cisco and HP, two new partners joined the DTC Initiative during phase 1. In November 2020, ITU signed a partnership agreement with the Norwegian Government through the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), supporting implementation of digital skills training activities in the DTCs, and in particular in Ghana. In March 2021, an agreement was signed with the World Food Programme (WFP), through which WFP and ITU partner to deliver digital skills training particularly in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.  

Second phase

Building on the success, and the lessons learnt, of phase 1 of the Initiative, phase 2 aims to increase the number of DTCs and further strengthen and scale the impact of the network. A call for applications was made in June 2021 resulting in 5 additional DTCs joining the Initiative. More applications will be considered from July 2022 and the process will remain open thereafter. For more information on whether your institution is eligible to become a DTC, click here. 

To launch phase 2, a kick-off workshop took place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 16-18 March 2022. The workshop brought together representatives of the 13 DTCs (8 DTCs from phase 1 and 5 additional DTCs joining in phase 2) to gain a common understanding of how best to achieve the objectives of the Initiative and to discuss the activities they are expected to undertake.

Call for partners

The DTC Initiative can only achieve scale through the engagement of partners. Private and public sectors, UN agencies, governments, and the international/donor community interested in partnering with ITU and Cisco are welcome to contact the ITU Capacity and Digital Skills Development Division at 

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