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African Development Bank: All-female Coding for Employment class to open doors for Nigerian women in tech

“In the current digital area, we need to invest in African women and create a diverse, innovative and resourceful workforce…the time for investment is now!” - Ashish Thakkar, CEO of Mara Group and Chair of the African Development Bank Presidential Youth Advisory Group.

Sa’adatu Babayo and Esther Ayuba have more than being female in common: the two are proud participants of the first all-women Coding for Employment class, currently underway in Nigeria as part of a pilot scheme to broaden opportunities for African women.

The month-long classes in basic Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and other digital skills began 11 Marchth 2019, and are being conducted on two campuses - Gombe State University, Northern Nigeria and Covenant University, in Ogun State, Nigeria. The 160 women making up this cohort will study digital literacy, business and entrepreneurship, as well as other skills like presentation and communication skills.

The programme acts as an entry point for Ayuba, Babayo and other young female participants like them, who are keen to find jobs within the growing ICT sector. At the end of the course, participants may continue to a more advanced level or simply use their new skills to enhance their job searches. The scheme also hopes to link up graduates of the class with local small and medium enterprises for jobs.

"Until this moment, females like me have been sidelined on ICT-related matters in this part of the world and country," Ayuba said.

Sa'adatu Babayo, a beneficiary in the All-female cohort of the Coding for Employment training

Gombe State University ICT Centre which will host the training

The Bank, together with its partners – The Rockefeller Foundation, Microsoft and Facebook – announced the holding of the class in March on International Women’s Day, as part of a concerted push to close the gender gap in the representation of women in ICT and to build a cadre of young digital innovators from the continent, ready to meet the demands of the future.

The Coding For Employment scheme was launched in June 2018 and is expected to give thousands of youth of both sexes, a gateway into the digital field and ultimately employment. After pilot programmes in Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda, Coding for Employment classes (see boxes below), will expand to Senegal and Ivory Coast.

Coding For Employment progress:

“Hour of Code” Gombe, Nigeria, December, 2018

  • A three-day “Hour of Code” campaign was held in Nigeria to celebrate the Global Computer Science Education Week and was attended by 607 youth in Northern Nigeria and Lagos.
  • The hour of code session ran for three days, 11-13 December, 2018 at Gombe State University.  
  • Directly engaged 545 participants representing 77% of the planned 700 participants (217 female, 483 male).
  • Selection criteria: low tech skills, targeting female students.
  • Female participation was increased in the 1st batch of training by an affirmative action of an all-female cohort to encourage more women to participate.

 Breakdown of participants per day in the Hour of Code:

  • Day 1 = 224 participants
  • Day 2 = 156 participants
  • Day 3 = 175 participants

Coding For Employment Key milestones:

  • 14 university and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institution partners identified to host innovation Centers of Excellence in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Senegal.
  • The program has secured government buy in in Nigeria, Rwanda and Kenya. 
  • Training of trainers, in partnership with Microsoft, launched in Nigeria and Kenya with 80 instructors trained in Nigeria and 60 trained in Kenya to deliver basic ICT skills material.
  •  2,750 applicants shortlisted in Gombe State University from the 15,000 applications.
  • The program is a key partner to the Rwandan government to establish the first of its kind, innovative Rwanda Coding School which will train youth to be world class programmers (at TVET level).
  • Key partnerships with leading private sector firms such as Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn and Safaricom provide training, technical support, on site operationalization and link program graduates to employment opportunities. 
  • The official launch event at the Africa Innovation Summit in Kigali, Rwanda attended by over 150 key stakeholders in ICT on the continent.
  • A three-day Masterclass for young women entrepreneurs was held at the Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda attended by 200 youth from 26 African countries.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding between the Bank and Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom is under review, to launch an aggregated online training and talent portal with content from leading tech firms including LinkedIn Learning. This content will ensure the relevance of the trainings in the various country contexts.

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