Africa Code Week 2019: Empowering young women to promote digital technology

Rwandan team poses for a group photo at the closing ceremony in Kigali. Photos by Craish Bahizi

Last week, Kigali hosted this year’s Africa Code Week— a continental digital skills development initiative that seeks to empower the young generation with digital literacy and sustainable learning impact.

The forum, a partnership between the Ministry of Education and the Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO including different higher learning institutions, attracted 37 countries — under the goal — increasing girl’s participation in STEM discipline.

Over 100 varsity female students from all walks of life convened for the forum which mainly focused on empowering them to promote digital technology in their respective local communities.

According to the organisers, the workshop mainly introduced the participants to basic coding programmes, and also advocated the need to embrace the narrative through showing them the benefits and importance of coding.

Albert Mutesa, Secretary General at the Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO, believes that Africa Code Week has been an important initiative for the whole continent in regards to providing young African ladies with coding skills and digital literacy.

Albert Mutesa, Secretary General at the Rwanda National Commission for UNESCO, urged the young females to embrace digital technology.

“The expertise becomes more and more relevant in our modern world through giving young people ICT skills, it is something that they benefit from all of their professional life, but you also give them power to decide their own destinies and contribute to the socio-development,” Mutesa says.

Besides, gender inclusion in digital technology is a challenge that we still have to fully address, he adds.

“But this workshop today with Moringa School and other institutions should be seen as an important milestone towards the on-going campaign of promoting girls to improve their skills in technology and natural sciences.”

Needless to mention, this forum will not only provide the young women with the opportunity to embrace the STEM discipline, but also work towards the country’s vision of being an incubation hub. Mutesa added.

He also challenged the participants to grab the opportunity that the government gives them because the constant efforts and initiatives that are being brought up are benefited mostly by them.

 Students present their application before the audience.

“The constant efforts of our government and different stakeholders to improve the ICT sector have paid off. We have been named “East Africa’s Number One ICT nation’ hence, the need for participants who have convened here to use this opportunity,” he says.

Daphine Umulisa, a student at Moringa School Rwanda, is of the view that women should feel proud to be key players amidst the current technological innovations, hence, enable sustainable social economic development.

Conversely, Umulisa points out that there is still lack of information for women in local communities, something she believes to be a gender inequality issue in the sector.

“In our modern society, information and knowledge are worldwide one of the most crucial key drivers in social-economic development and their societal influence is constantly growing. This movement makes the problem of information inequality that still exists on many different levels and in various contexts, even more severe.”

Earlier, education minister, Eugene Mutimura, also pointed out that there is need to applaud the impact of ICT in the education sector, as he appreciated the services rendered by the development partners to embark on the land mark.

 “All these initiatives are aimed at promoting ICT as a tool for teaching and learning, and we, therefore, request the education partners to strongly support these initiatives so that all our schools and universities are able to have ICT devises with internet connectivity, to allow them to effectively deliver teaching and learning,” he said.

Sabine Umuhoza, a telecommunication engineering degree holder, one of the beneficiaries of We Code Rwanda, compliments the benefits of joining the forum.

“I am just blessed to have such an opportunity because as an engineer, I should be in the know of how the entire system works. Becoming a software-testing professional is another important skill I am counting on,” Umuhoza says.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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