Yaounde, 6 July 2021 (ECA) – Over 8,500 girls and young women from across Africa are getting a head start into careers in computer coding to help transform African economies especially in the areas of fashion design, gaming, visual animation, robotics and 3D printing, thanks to a two-week formation exercise opened by Cameroon’s Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Minister – Minette Libom Li Likeng, Monday.
“My call is to remind you today of the importance of ICTs: go beyond simply mastering the codes of a programming language and seek to innovate,” Minister Li Likeng told the learners, as she regretted that women globally and particularly African women, have backpedalled in ICT careers and must do everything possible to bounce back.
“Over 30 years ago, women occupied about 30% of the technical functions in the digital professions – that is in development, operation, production and project management, but this share has been divided by two since then, and women are now mainly found only in support functions,” she lamented.
The Connected African Girls’ Coding Camp organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with the Government of Cameroon, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and UNWOMEN, is therefore part of the process to bridge the 23% digital divide between men and women on the continent, the minister intimated.
“To have more than half of the population which are not active economic actors and yet are as capable as the other half, is a luxury we cannot afford,” argued Antonio Pedro – Director of ECA’s Office for Central Africa, in agreement with Minister Li-Likeng.
“The Connected African Girls Coding Camp is all about making women and girls future creators of employment for which governments have a role in creating the required ecosystem for entrepreneurship development, in other words a favourable legal and regulatory framework, incentives,” Pedro went on, citing health, technology, energy, infrastructure, construction, artificial intelligence and Big Data as sectors in which jobs would morph out.
Jean-Jacques Massima-Landji who heads ITU’s Bureau for Central Africa and Madagascar said the ongoing Coding Camp which is an offshoot of the African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI) started a few years ago “will also contribute to the eradication of poverty through socio-economic development and increased ownership of modern digital tools across the African continent.”
In the view of Marie Goretti Nduwayo ,UNWOMEN’s Regional liaison Adviser to the African Union and ECA, given that only 28.4% of women and girls are currently involved in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), initiatives such as the ongoing Girls’ Coding Camp will help overturn the stereotypes holding women from advancing in these domains.
While underlining the importance of improving the participation of African women ang girls into the digital economy, the Director of ECA’s Technology Climate Change and Natural Resource Management Division (TCND) – Jean Paul Adam, called on private sector in Africa to support them pursue higher education studies in ICTs.
The Connected African Girls’ Coding Camp will culminate in an “Innovation Fair and Project Exhibition” on 23 July 2021. UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA – Vera Songwe will be in Cameroon to preside over this activity in which various groups will showcase concrete projects developed and compete for prizes.
Abel Akara Ticha - Communication Officer
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
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