Africa Code Week (ACW) is under way after officially kicking off in Tanzania on Wednesday, with Government officials and hundreds of pupils from surrounding areas in attendance at live coding workshops.
UNESCO YouthMobile, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Galway Education Centre, and Google to declare the 2017 edition of Africa Code Week open across 35 countries. 500 000 children and youth aged 8-24 are participating in the thousands of free coding workshops that are being organised throughout the week. In the run-up to these events, thousands of teachers have been trained by skilled volunteers from SAP CSR EMEA and ACW Ambassadors across most participating countries.
With half a million young Africans engaged over the past two years, 15 Governments and over 100 partners on board already, Africa Code Week speaks volumes on the importance and impact of public-private partnerships in the digital age.
“Tanzania is a perfect example of how governments can leverage the Africa Code Week shared-value model and dynamic ecosystem to accelerate schools’ digital transformation and fast-track youth empowerment through ICT across entire nations,” said Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP and Global Project Lead for Africa Code Week.
Tanzania has grown faster than the average rate of growth in sub-Saharan Africa (6.9% compared to 4.9% growth rate since 2005) and key drivers for its path to transformation are centered around technology based innovation and improving skills.
“The use of ICT has increased considerably in recent years; it is a key foundation which will lift Africa out of poverty in a sustainable manner,” said Professor Joyce Ndalichako, Tanzanian Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, speaking at the event. “We are thankful to SAP and Africa Code Week partners for their support in our efforts to boost STEM skills development for our youth, and we look forward to empowering a new generation of digital innovators across Tanzania and Africa at large.”
Attending the first series of coding workshops organised for Tanzanian pupils ahead of the ceremony, the Irish Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciaran Cannon, commented: “For the young generation to take advantage of the immense opportunities presented by the digital revolution, coding must become part of their daily learning journey: coding is the 21st century language and as with any other language, the earlier children learn it, the faster they become fluent.”
Celebrating more than a continent-wide education revolution in the making, the launch also shed light on the African female leaders who dedicate their life to improving digital skills and employment perspectives for girls in the digital century.
As part of the Africa Code Week, the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provides micro grants to 20 female tech leaders who organize coding workshops in 17 African countries specifically for girls.
“250 million fewer women than men have access to the internet. We need to take action to close this gap and make sure women and girls can benefit from the potentials of the digital revolution”, said Roland Lindenthal, Head of Division Education and Digital World at BMZ. The engagement of the BMZ is part of the #eSkills4Girls initiative launched under the German G20 presidency. At their meeting in July, the G20 leaders committed to support digital skills of women and girls worldwide. To underline the political message, the BMZ takes action and supports the coding workshops and other activities to promote the participation of women in the digital economy.
Africa gets broadband boost
ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.
ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.
At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”
Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.
AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.
The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.
‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”
The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.
‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.
The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”