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Continental Coding Programme for Girls Kicks Off In Kenya

Continental Coding Programme for Girls Kicks Off In Kenya
UN Women County Representative to Kenya, Anne Mutavati, hands over a laptop to a participant

The African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI) launched its inaugural coding camp in Nairobi on Tuesday 15 August, 2023.

The African Girls Can Code Initiative (AGCCI) was commissioned by UN Women and the African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The initiative aims to train and empower a minimum of 2000 young girls aged between 17-25 across Africa to become computer programmers, creators, and designers, placing them on track to take up studies and careers in the information, communication and technology (ICT), education and coding sectors.

The initiative has two key strategies namely: 1) coding camps and 2) mainstreaming ICT, coding, and gender into the national curricula. Moreover, it promotes the implementation of national media campaigns involving role models (e.g. women in ICT, female teachers in schools) and utilizes an on-line platform to enhance networking among the girls, trainers and mentors.

As part of the AGCCI continental programme, Kenya’s first coding camp will train 50 young women aspiring to find careers in ICT and STEM. The two-week intensive course incorporates elements of web development, mobile applications and robotics as well as sessions on gender equality and ICT safety.

Group photo of all AGCCI stakeholders

Speaking at the event, UN Women Country Representative to Kenya, Anna Mutavati, committed UN Women to support girls beyond coding camps:

“The launch of the African Girls Can Code Initiative is timely as through the initiative, we will train the girls to code; we will work with the government to make ICT and coding a bigger part of the education system; and we will work with media and prominent role-models to change the narrative for girls going for jobs in the tech sector.”

The participants for the camp have been selected from all corners of the country in an attempt to bring equality to ICT and STEM sectors in Kenya which are still disproportionately comprised of by men, as they are globally. Access to internet and computer usage in Kenya still favours men, but greater inclusion of women in the digital economy and increased diversity will bring both social and economic value to Kenya.

When involved in ICT and coding, women can help to create user-friendly technology that is responsive to the needs of women and girls.

In addition, inventions arising out of mixed teams are more economically valuable and have higher impact than those in which only men are involved. The programme is playing its part in closing the digital gender divide, overturning stereotypes and encouraging women and girls to use ICTs.

The AGCCI programme in Kenya has collaborated with Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Ministry of ICT, and Ministry of Gender Affairs with support from the International Telecommunication Union and the African Union. A second cohort of a further 50 girls will take place at the end of 2023. This introductory year hopes to generate interest from national and international development partners, including the private sector, to scale up future iterations of the programme.

Kenya is one of 11 countries included in this African-wide initiative, in which the UN Women is implementing this programme. The other counties are Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique,DRC Congo, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa.

It is estimated the failure to mainstream women into ICT careers costs the world 1 Trillion dollars a year in lost GDP..

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