By Emeka Aginam
With free online sessions and coding workshops across seventeen African countries, Enterprise application software company, SAP, has announced the start of Africa Code Week, a continent-wide initiative to spread digital literacy and simplify access to coding education for young people.
Africa Code Week is part of SAP’s effort to bridge this digital skills gap and drive sustainable growth in Africa. The company already invests in the SAP Skills for Africa program, which provides additional business and IT skills to recent university graduates. Africa Code Week reinforces that commitment to graduates while extending it to primary and secondary students, creating a full cycle of skills support for young people in Africa.
Starting from October 1st through 10th, 2015, the online sessions and hundreds of free coding workshops will be organized for children and youth aged 8 to 24 across 17 countries, including Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.
“Digital literacy has the power to put millions of young Africans on the path to successful careers,” Mr. Rachid Belmokhtar, the Minister of Education and Vocational Training of the Kingdom of Morocco, said, adding that, “Trained, tech-savvy graduates are needed to improve Africa’s position in the globally competitive knowledge economy. Everyone — from governments and educational institutions all the way to NGOs and corporations — has a role to play to spread digital literacy across Africa.”
“Over the next decade, Africa’s youth will determine whether the continent wins or loses the game,” said Pfungwa Serima, Executive Chairman, SAP Africa, adding that, “The Digital Economy is here and the opportunities it presents are manifold. If we equip young Africans with the best technology, give them skills that make them relevant to the job market and empower them to be bold and innovative, we’ll see them do amazing things.”
Founded and orchestrated by SAP in partnership with Simplon.co, AMPION, the Galway Education Centre, the Cape Town Science Centre and the King Baudouin Foundation, Africa Code Week is supported by a fast-growing network of local governments, international and local educational organizations, NGOs and software companies across the continent. Google Inc. also joined Africa Code Week as a strategic partner to support local organizers of computer science and coding activities all over Africa.
Africa has the fastest growing digital consumer market and the largest working-age population in the world. The World Economic Forum expects the population of Africa to double to 1 billion by 2050, exceeding that of China and India. The potential problems triggered by this boom in working-age youth is compounded by a lack of educational opportunities particularly in the area of technology training.
At the same time, African companies are scrambling to fill positions with employees who possess the right digital skills. Only one percent of African children leave school with basic coding skills. In preparation for Africa Code Week, SAP has deployed its own IT experts as volunteers to train adults, parents, teachers and government staff, giving them the tools they need to bring coding knowledge to children and youth. To-date, they have already trained 1,500 educators.
Workshops for the 8-11 and 12-17 age groups are based on Scratch, the famous system developed by the MIT Media Lab to simplify the face of coding for the young generation.