Africa Code Week Spreading Digital Literacy For African Youth

Written by Dana Sanchez

From ITNewsAfrica.

Africa Code Week, under way through Oct. 10, is a continent-wide initiative to spread digital literacy and simplify access to coding education for young people.

Online sessions and hundreds of free coding workshops have been organized for children and youth aged 8 to 24 in 17 countries: Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

Africa Code Week was founded and is organized by SAP, a German multinational software corporation, in partnership with Simplon.co, AMPION, the Galway Education Centre, the Cape Town Science Centre and the King Baudouin Foundation.

Google joined Africa Code Week as a strategic partner to support local organizers of computer science and coding activities all over Africa.

Africa Code Week is part of SAP’s effort to bridge the digital skills gap and drive sustainable growth in Africa.

“Digital literacy has the power to put millions of young Africans on the path to successful careers,” said Rachid Belmokhtar, Moroccan minister of education and vocational training. “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.”

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 — technology training in particular. At the same time, African companies are scrambling to fill positions with employees who possess the right digital skills. Only 1 percent of African children leave school with basic coding skills.

In preparation for Africa Code Week, SAP 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 trained 1,500 educators.

Workshops for the 8-to-11 and 12-to-17 age groups are based on Scratch, a system developed by the MIT Media Lab to simplify coding for the young generation. Provided free, Scratch makes coding accessible to anyone and is being used by millions of children and teens around the world to create and share interactive stories, animations and games. Via the openSAP platform, SAP also offers free massive open online courses (MOOCs) for those who cannot attend Africa Code Week or who want to take their Scratch programming experience to the next level. Local organizers will be able to set up computer science clubs in schools and introduce students age 9-14 to computer science using Google CS First enrichment materials.

Students age 18-24 will learn how to leverage web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, as well as Meteor.js. to create their own WhatsApp clone, a simple messaging app that runs on mobile devices. In parallel, AMPION Africa Code Week buses will tour Rwanda and the Western Cape in South Africa to allow children in rural areas to join the coding revolution.

“Over the next decade, Africa’s youth will determine whether the continent wins or loses the game,” said Pfungwa Serima, Executive Chairman, SAP Africa. “The digital economy is here and the opportunities is 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.”

Read more at ITNewsAfrica.

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About Dana Sanchez
Dana Sanchez was born in South Africa and is a U.S. citizen. After working in advertising, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida. As a business writer, she won regional and national writing awards. As editor of a daily newspaper, she coordinated staff writers, freelancers and photographers in the fast-paced environment of daily news. Dana was an editor at Moguldom Media Group for four years, helping to build and manage a team of staff and freelance writers. She works now on Moguldom.com for Nubail Ventures. A long-distance hiker and cyclist, she writes about the business of technology.