Some 160 young women have begun a month-long coding class on two Nigerian campuses under a new programme to give African youth digital skills for the workforce.
The Coding for Employment programme, organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Microsoft Philanthropies, prioritises young women who typically have been sidelined in the technology ecosystem.
Level playing ground for women
At a launch event held last month academics, women leaders in technology and tech start-up founders highlighted the importance of level playing ground for women.
The launch at Covenant University was under the theme: “Think Equal, Build Smart, and Innovate for Change.
“As in every sector, the participation of women in ICT matters to ensure inclusive development. We are committed to addressing the skills gap so that women can fully access opportunities in the digital era,” Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for the Gender, Women, and Civil Society Department said.
Other high-level participants at the event included the Vice Chancellor of Covenant University – Professor Aderemi Atayero; Partner Technology Lead, Microsoft, Olatomiwa Williams, Expansion Strategy Manager, Andela(Jackie Ugokwe and Cofounder/COO, Piggyvest, Odunayo Eweniyi.
Life Skills in coding
The special all-female training kicked-off on March 11 at Covenant University and Gombe State University, the two campuses selected for the programme in its initial pilot phase.
Digital literacy, introduction to word processing and spreadsheets are some of the topics the crash course will include.
The training programme will also include a Life Skills component where notable role models in the technology and digital skills space will share their stories with the cohort and act as mentors for the students throughout the programme.
The classes will run in shift sessions to accommodate those who need flexible training times due to other commitments.
The programme is being piloted in 5 countries – Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal.
Targeting over 400 vulnerable students of Bosco School in Karen, the empowerment would be achieved through providing technology, technology skills, science education, soft skills, life skills and mentoring.
The programme was meant to inspire children into STEM careers and provide them with the skills and hardware to get relevant practical experience.
Its goal is to also help vulnerable students understand and take advantage of technology to further their studies and careers.
South Africa’s army for the fourth industrial revolution
In September last year, South Africa’s deputy minister of communications, Pinky Kekana said “deliberate and measurable targets” had to be adopted by the government to bridge the gender divide in the ICT sector.
During a symposium in Durban, the country’s deputy minister of telecommunications and postal services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that in order to derive an effective economic spin-off from the fourth industrial revolution, the country had to build a capable army.
“We realise that a capable army will not be capable enough unless there are women,” said Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Coding to 9 million jobs for 32 million Africans
In June 2018, AfDB partnered with The Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and Facebook to launch a programme aimed at developing the next generation of young digital innovators from the continent.
The Coding for Employment Programme launched in Kigali and Rwanda aimed at training youth in demand-driven Information and Communications Technology (ICT) curriculum and matching graduates directly with ICT employers.
Overall, the Coding for Employment is expected to create over 9 million jobs and reach 32 million youth and women across Africa.
In Ethiopia, 250 female software developers will receive training and seed funding for 20 female entrepreneurs whose digital business ideas will be supported by Gebeya, a Pan-African Education Technology and Online Job Placement Company.
Gebeya and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group through the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative have signed a USD 500,000 advisory services agreement to implement the Digital Gender-Ethiopia Programme.
It aims to increase the number of female software developers.