By MTHULISI SIBANDA,
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE 2017 edition of the Africa Code Week has kicked off in Mauritius with a target of impacting on the lives of 500 000 youth across 35 African countries.A brainchild of SAP, the multinational software corporation, to spread coding literacy among local youth, with a key focus on female skills development and training, it has been launched in the western Flic-En-Flac.“By learning the new language of coding in an open, supportive environment, young Africans are able to take advantage of the immense opportunities presented by the digital revolution and become active players of the global economy,” says Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP and Global Project Lead for Africa Code Week.Started in 2015 by SAP Corporate Social Responsibility EMEA and several public and private sector partners, the initiative has a long-term goal of empowering more than 200 000 teachers and positively impacting the lives of 5 million children and youth within the next ten years.In 2016, more than 426 000 young Africans across 30 countries learntcomputer coding basics as part of Africa Code Week, beating initial targets of 150 000. Clas Neumann, Senior VP, Lead of Fast Growth Market Strategy at SAP, says by 2040, Africa is projected to have a working age population of more than 1 billion.
Considering the growing global shortage in technical skills, Africa is seen as having a unique opportunity to take a lead role in powering the global economy.However, the lack of widely available education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) fields could undermine the continent’s ability to equip this growing workforce with the skills to thrive in the
digital economy.“Africa Code Week is one way of reaching out to even remote corners of the continent and creating interest in the opportunities only the digital world can offer. We hope, that this will help inspiring young Africans to pursue careers that will drive the continent’s digital transformation,” says Neumann. Launching the Africa Code Week in Mauritius is influenced by the Southern African country having the highest ICT Development Index.It continues to lead the way in the integration of ICT as a socioeconomic growth accelerator.
President Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has endorsed Africa Code Week as among the ways to transform Africa’s “youth bulge” into an unprecedented opportunity for growth and social peace.
“The Republic of Mauritius is keen to support and participate in Africa Code Week this year and I look forward to working with all stakeholders from the public and private sector to drive STEM skills development nationwide and across the African continent,” Gurib-Fakim says.
The Mauritian government has taken several measures to promote gender equality, including repealing discriminatory laws, and the appointment of equal opportunity officers in principal ministries to deal with women’s
issues.This is line with addressing prevailing stereotypes and cultural barriers.
Brett Parker, President of SAP Africa, says Africa Code Week was a shining example of how effective public-private partnership and open collaboration can bring transformative change to Africa’s youth.
“With a wealth of youthful talent, a network of passionate teachers, and the tremendous support of our key strategic partners, Africa Code Week has gone from strength to strength, making a far-reaching and positive impact
on the fortunes of the continent’s youth,” Parker says.
United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific and Cultural Organisation YouthMobile, Cape Town Science Centre, the Galway Education Centre, Google, ALink Telecom, Fondation Life Builders, DreamOval Foundation, Camara Education and 10 African governments are backing Africa Code Week.