The latest edition of Africa Code Week (ACW), a development initiative targeting the continent’s tech arena, exceeded all expectations by empowering 2.3 million youth across 37 countries with digital and coding skills. This is compared to 1.3 million youth engaged across 35 African countries in the previous edition.
Spearheaded by software company, SAP’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) drive as part of its social investments to drive sustainable growth in Africa, Africa Code Week is a digital skills development initiative that has benefitted over 4 million young Africans to date.
The event is known for its strong partnerships with the public, private and non-profit sectors, which are the driving force behind the initiative’s ambitious goals to build community capacity in ICT education across the entire continent.
The initiative is actively supported by key partners such as UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre and the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.
According to Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa, the resounding success of Africa Code Week is a wake-up call unveiling what the young generation actually needs and rightfully expects.
“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 explained
“There is only one way to bring the promises of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to the young generation: through a reference point, and that reference point is the teacher,” commented Davide Storti, YouthMobile Initiative Coordinator at UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division, in a statement issued this week.
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 support UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Ensure quality and inclusive education for all, and SDG 17, which aims to ‘strengthen and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development’.
The 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,” she says.
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 more than 100,000 youth across 11 countries to be exposed to computer science (CS) and coding skills – 57% of which were girls.
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 a drive known as the eSkills4Girls initiative.
“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,” commented Sunil Geness, Director of Government Relations and CSR at SAP Africa and Global Coordinator of ACW 2018.
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.
“We look forward to furthering dialogue with governments, so we can translate the powerful partnerships and networking built by and around Africa Code Week into long-term programmes that sustain the excitement around 21st century learning,” Storti said.