World Press release

‘We must leave no one behind’ – the Commonwealth Secretary-General urges greater adoption of digital technology

‘We must leave no one behind’ – the Commonwealth Secretary-General urges greater adoption of digital technology

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, is supporting the growth of digital technology, with a particular focus on artificial intelligence (AI). The Secretariat is doing its part to accelerate progress with citizens in its 56 member states. 

Special attention is being paid to the 1.5 billion young people who are citizens of the Commonwealth, recognising that there are also underserved groups, including girls and the differently abled, within that number.

One initiative is the recently launched Commonwealth AI Academy, which equips citizens with essential tools for upskilling and provides a foundation for a future where AI is ubiquitous. In partnership with Intel, a series of six online courses is now available on the Commonwealth eLearning Platform.

Courses available include: Introduction to AI for Youth, Introduction to Generative AI, Introduction to Web 3.0, Introduction to Responsible AI Skills, Demystifying Intel® Rev Cloud, and Demystify AI and OpenVINO™ toolkit.

Similarly, government officials can explore strategies through the  Digital Readiness for Public Sector Leaders program to safeguard their citizens’ interests effectively. The online and self-paced course was launched in March 2023 and aims to demystify emerging technologies among senior-level public sector officials in Commonwealth countries. It also provides an overview of artificial intelligence, its potential applications, current challenges and the digital readiness of respective countries.

The second initiative, a collaboration with Open Weaver, aims to allow small and medium-sized businesses to build websites and mobile applications using the platform’s no-code solutions. 

On April 11, the Commonwealth Secretariat initiated a three-year collaboration with Open Weaver, commencing with the launch of the Accelerating Entrepreneurship Using AI & Digital Program.

During the launch, the Commonwealth Secretary-General declared the ‘makeathon’ portal open for applications. The opportunity is open to all Commonwealth citizens, with an emphasis on underserved communities, including women and girls. This digital upskilling project will provide one-on-one mentorship to ensure that all Commonwealth citizens who apply can make the best of these opportunities.

Over the three years of the collaboration, over 10,000 applicants will benefit from US$4.1 million in platform credits. They will use the credits to create projects that boost their earning potential, provide jobs, and create other solutions for advancement. 

The Commonwealth Secretary-General opined:

“The world is facing unprecedented challenges, so there is a pressing need for us to deliver solutions that are collaborative, inclusive and stamp out inequities. I see technology, and in particular, the use of AI tools to be central to the process of uniting the world to help solve our common ills. I have been unequivocal about the path ahead – it is digital.”

“As a person from a small island state, I also understand and have seen the effect of inequity. So, it is crucial that we ensure that all who can learn about these tools can get access to them. The world needs our innovative approach, global leadership, and commitment to joint action to truly advance. And, the Commonwealth’s continued resilience depends on it.”

The Commonwealth Secretary-General asserted that increased use of technology will also enable economic advancement across the 56 member states.

Additionally, the Commonwealth Artificial Intelligence Consortium (CAIC), launched in 2023, was formed to help accelerate the use of AI in the 56 member states. The CAIC includes global tech firms, world-leading research institutions, and non-profit organisations. Six Commonwealth member countries have also been included in the CAIC and will champion AI innovation in their own nations and throughout the union.

In October 2023, the CAIC agreed on an action plan that seeks to leverage the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to support small states. With an emphasis on empowering young people and women to ensure inclusive growth, the CAIC is focused on ensuring member countries use global AI innovations for economic development, sustainability, healthcare improvement, and job creation.

This plan also includes a framework allocating roles and responsibilities and the establishment of four working groups focusing on policy, capacity-building, data and infrastructure, and research and innovation.

The Secretariat’s launch of the AI Academy and collaboration with Open Weaver demonstrates the Commonwealth AI Consortium’s commitment to fulfil the directives established during the previous Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Rwanda in 2022.

At the last CHOGM, Commonwealth member states reaffirmed their commitment to equipping citizens with the access and expertise needed to maximise the benefits of innovations, emerging technologies, and opportunities in the digital realm.

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