JOHANNESBURG – REFUGEES in North Africa are among thousands benefiting from an initiative aimed at driving digital literacy among
disadvantaged communities in the continent.
The first-of-a kind initiative is the brainchild of Systems Applications & Products (SAP), the Germany-headquartered multinational software corporation, whose empowerment programmes in Africa other regions are eager to emulate.
Alicia Lenze, Head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme, disclosed the developments in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she has reiterated the company’s commitment to empowering disadvantaged communities in Africa, particularly the burgeoning youth population.
Among the programmes she mentioned include the ongoing SAP Africa Code Week (ACW), which, founded in 2015, seeks to empower African youths with coding skills.
With the support of numerous partners across Africa, its inaugural year saw more than 89 000 youth across 17 countries.
Lenze said this year, the aim is to reach a minimum of 150 000 youths in 30 African countries.
“We need to upskill youth to enable them to be active in the digital economy,” said Lenze.
For such efforts to drive digital literacy through ACW, SAP recently received the Judges’ Choice Award in the Corporate Initiative Category for the MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition.
Linze discloses other SAP regions have shown interest in replicate the initiative.
“We have seen an interest among other regions to emulate the programme, which is amazing,” said Linze.
Meanwhile, ACW is running concurrently with the Refugee Code Week to empower displaced communities in North Africa and Middle East.
In Africa, Egypt will benefit from the programme. The programme is also running in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Refugee Code Week initially targets to benefit 10 000 beneficiaries.
Refugee Code Week is a core pillar of the SAP Refugee Aid Program, in collaboration with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In response to UNHCR’s call for the private sector to share the burden across these countries, the Refugee Code Week program will run hundreds of free coding workshops and online training courses for youth aged 8-24.
“By training young people in high-demand coding skills, Refugee Code Week is restoring refugee families’ hope for a better future, while building a pipeline of a skilled workforce,” Linze said.
The SAP executive highlighted the impact other programmes as SAP Social Sabbatical and FIRST Lego League robotics tournament.
The league, an international competition sparks enthusiasm for science and technology in young people, has been a fixed part of SAP’s CSR framework since 2003.
The SAP Social Sabbatical, sponsored by SAP CSR is a unique and short period of work for promising talents at SAP, where they spend four weeks on-site at non-profit organizations in the education and social sector.
According to Linze, since the inception in 2012, staff have volunteered 40 000 hours into 40 non-profit organizations in developing countries.
Meanwhile, SAP is a major donor of the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newton, central Johannesburg. It is Southern Africa’s largest science centre.
It supports many programmes run at the centre while a contribution by SAP established a 270-seater auditorium that has over the years hosted no less than four Nobel Laureates.
It hosted United States First lady, Michelle Obama, during her tour to South Africa.
Fikile Mapela, Acting Chief Executive Officer, of the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, welcomed the partnership.
“We are honoured to receive so much support from one of the largest technology companies in the world. Their support is more than a mere handout. It is a vote of confidence that we are on the right path,” said Mapela.
– CAJ News