Bridging digital divide

ILO drives the inclusion of hosts and refugees in Ethiopia's digital economy

The agreements signed between International Labour Organization and Ethiopian government authorities will promote employment and policy solutions for inclusion of hosts and refugees in country's expanding digital economy.

News | Addis Ababa | 02 February 2024
Dr Belet Molla, Minister, MiNT and Alexio Musindo, Country Director - ILO, Addis Ababa signed and exchanged agreements at the ceremony. ©ILO/Zelalem AlemenewDesta 

Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA (ILO News) - The global expansion of the digital economy is evident, including notable growth in Ethiopia. With the aim to ensure the inclusion of refugees and their host communities in this expanding labour market, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Federal Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MiNT), the Information Technology Park Corporation (ITPC), and Somali Regional State Innovation and Technology Bureau (SRSITB) entered into partnership on 26 January 2024. At a ceremony organized at MiNT’s campus in Addis Ababa, the ILO and Government leadership signed agreements to strengthen country’s digitalization strategy.

At the signing ceremony, Alexio Musindo, Country Director, ILO - Addis Ababa, said, "In this digital era shaping our societies and economies, ILO's commitment to inclusivity goes beyond ensuring mere access to technology. It extends into fostering opportunities for meaningful employment for jobs and ensuring that digital access applies to all including refugees.”

He further expressed his belief that the agreements would harness the potential of the digital economy to generate jobs and foster economic inclusion, ultimately benefiting both forcibly displaced individuals and the communities that host them.
The ILO and the MiNT have collaborated to develop a five-year national digital inclusion strategy that integrates the needs of refugees in the country. This will be achieved by incorporating refugee-related concerns into the national strategy, ensuring they benefit from and contribute to the Digital Ethiopia 2025 strategy.

Dr. Belete Molla, Minister of MiNT echoed the importance of inclusive policies as not just a moral imperative but an economic necessity for the growth of the digital economy. He said, “Ethiopia’s digital 2025 strategy is not only building a roadmap for technological advancement but also it is a declaration of inclusivity. The digital revolution has a great potential that can only be unlocked when everyone has an opportunity to participate including our vulnerable communities such as refugees.”
The ILO and Government delegation present at the agreement signing ceremony. ©ILO/Zelalem Alemenew Desta

The ILO and the IT Park signed a separate partnership agreement to design and implement safe, secure and refugee-inclusive digital platform work or digital-enabled livelihoods programme within the IT park. Alongside the development of inclusive policies catering to the specific needs of hosts and refugees, this collaboration will create internship and stepping-stone job opportunities for them at the IT Park in Addis Ababa.

The agreement between the ILO and the SRSITB will lead to the establishment of the ILO Digital Innovation Hub in the Fafan Zone of the Somali Region. The hub aims to enhance, connectivity and infrastructure, enhance digital skills and livelihoods for refugees and host communities in the region, bridging the digital divide and promoting inclusivity.

The agreements were signed under the Partnership for improving prospects for forcibly displaced persons and host communities (PROSPECTS) programme spearheaded by the Kingdom Netherlands. Dr. Girmachew Adugna, representing the Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa at the ceremony underlined, “These agreements are a right step towards Netherlands’ commitment to provide sustainable and improved living conditions for women, men, girls and boys in forcibly displaced contexts and host communities.”

Dr. Girmachew Adugna, representative of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Addis Ababa congratulating both the organizations. ©ILO/Zelalem Alemenew Desta

Within PROSPECTS, the ILO pursues a comprehensive and coherent set of responses to the widespread challenges in forced displacement, pursuing the development of resilient labour markets, livelihoods and decent work for host and refugee communities. Jean-Yves Barba, ILO PROSPECTS Ethiopia Programme Manager, added, “Through the agreements signed today, many host and refuge community candidates will find their first job opportunity in the digital sector. It is always challenging to find this first opportunity to make a career. This will open new doors for refugees and marginalized communities to participate and thrive in the fast-growing digital economy.”

These agreements will help to bring policy solutions, enhance the capacity of ILO partners, and design and implement innovative solutions to promote employment opportunities, improve rights at work and mitigate risks for digital worker. Highlighting the sustainability aspect of these interventions, Marta Tsehay, National Programme Officer for ILO PROSPECTS in Ethiopia, said, “All the activities will be implemented with the engagement of the Refugee and Returnees Service (RRS), workers, and employer organizations in Ethiopia. Their ownership and capacity building will result in long term and sustainable solutions for refugee and host communities.”


PROSPECTS is a global partnership that aims to improve the access of host communities and forcibly displaced people to education, social protection and decent work.

Spearheaded by the Government of the Netherlands, it brings together the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank to help transform the way in which governments and other stakeholders, including the private sector, respond to forced displacement crises.

The partnership is being implemented in eight countries in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda) and the MENA region (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon).