Those who still believe that African youths may be left behind in the global competitiveness with digital and coding skills should better have a rethink. With coding as a universal language that could bridge not only the gender and income gaps but enable also inclusive access to 21st century education, it is essential that young talent speak the language in order to be active participants in the global digital economy.
With sharp focus on capacity-building driving sustainable learning impact across the continent, number of young African talents with digital skills for challenges ahead are increasing by the day.
Just recently at the just concluded Africa Code Week, ACW, 2018, held in South Africa, no fewer than 2.3 million youths across 37 countries were empowered with digital and coding skills compared to 1.3 million youths engaged across 35 African countries in the previous edition.
From an initial focus of introducing coding skills to African youth and raising awareness of the importance of digital education, ACW key partners focused and augmented efforts in 2018 to sustain the impact of the programme through capacity-building with governments, schools and NPOs.
Meanwhile, close to 23,000 teachers were trained on the ACW digital learning curriculum in the run-up to October 2018 events. Leveraging Africa Code Week to accelerate nationwide ICT capacity building since 2015, Morocco stands out again this year with a record of 5,208 teachers trained throughout the year 2018.
Tunisia and Nigeria follow with respectively 2,800 and 2,553 teachers trained this year. Launched in 2015 by SAP’s Corporate Social Responsibility EMEA department, ACW is an award-winning initiative taking place every year in the month of October.
It is now actively supported by key partners UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African Governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.
Empowering girls, reaching the unreached; more than 46% of this year’s 2.3 million participants were female, reflecting a huge appetite for digital skills development among Africa’s girls. Dedicated grants came in from key partner BMZ, who has been supporting ACW since 2016 as part of the #eSkills4Girls initiative.
This year, BMZ awarded 20 grants to organisations across 15 emerging and developing countries, introducing 13,791 girls to digital skills and employment perspectives. SAP further collaborated with UNESCO and BMZ/GIZ to strengthen the gender component of the Train-the-Teacher package for Africa Code Week. With excitement, Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa, believed that the resounding success of Africa Code Week was a wake-up call unveiling what the young generation actually needed and rightfully expected. “Young people in Africa don’t just need opportunities: they need to know how to take the first steps to get there. They need role models and guidance”, she said.
According to Alexandra van der Ploeg, Head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP, “fostering powerful partnerships with a sharp focus on capacity building is one of Africa Code Week’s strengths, and a solid cornerstone as it strives to not only support UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (‘Ensure quality and inclusive education for all’), but also SDG 17 which aims to ‘strengthen and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.
“ This fourth edition saw unprecedented collaboration from our public and private sector stakeholders, as well as from NGOs, to train more teachers and reach more young people than ever before,”.
“Female representation in African companies in STEM-related fields currently stands at only 30%, requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success,” concludes Sunil Geness, Director of Government Relations and CSR at SAP Africa and Global Coordinator of ACW 2018.
Supporting Africa Code Week for the third year in a row, Google expanded their grant allocations to support more organisations in their efforts to inspire a new generation of digital African workers. In 2018, Google micro grants were awarded to 53 non-profit organisations to facilitate teacher trainings and coding workshops in both urban and rural areas, allowing 100,000+ youth across 11 countries to be exposed to computer science (CS) and coding skills – 57% of which were girls.
As a result of success story, more partners joined forces this year to reach youth with special needs or living in remote areas. In Botswana for instance, more than 150 children got to touch a computer and code for the first time using solar-powered devices. Mining company and SAP partner Debswana aligned their own CSR programme to Africa Code Week, engaging 1,181 children at their Orapa Mine alone.
In Mozambique, ACW volunteers joined forces with INAGE and Mapal to train teachers from special needs schools, who in turn were able to introduce coding skills to hundreds of hearing-impaired students. Another highlight came from Cameroon, where Train-the-Trainer sessions were organised in October 2018 for vision-impaired teachers in Yaounde’s CMPJ.