Go ahead and imagine a computer geek. You probably picture a male nerd, glued to his computer and lost in a world of bits and bytes. You might envision a budding Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, but probably not a girl.
Well, you are probably right. Girls are particularly marginalized and underprivileged in Africa. They are faced with lack of opportunity due to common preconceived notions that either they are incapable, or, it is not their place to do anything different. However, there are millions of girls across Africa who are bright, intelligent, and hungry to learn.
There are also several tech hubs and programs that have sprouted allover the continent to put this tech brains into use.
Miss.Africa Digital – Kenya
This is the first Pan-African program for women in technology set up in Kenya. The program is a gender-focused initiative targeted mainly at female youth audiences throughout the African continent, to increase their personal involvement in early technology use and adoption with a view to improving their digital self-awareness and empowerment, and overall self-esteem.
It is aimed in attracting more young girls and women to the Internet platform to enable them form a sizable demographic of Internet users in Africa, thereby involving them in complementary gender development initiatives that improve the lives of young girls and women through digital inclusion.
So far over 100 Women have benefited from its seed fund initiative and the number is deemed to increase as the annual seed fund project progresses.
Girls Can Code! Technology Camp- Zambia
Situated in Zambia, this project ultimately seeks to bring equity to girls by empowering them with knowledge, self-confidence, and a network of like-minded peers across the land.
They introduce computer programming by an interactive game where they act out commands with people on a stage. The result is that the teams become familiar with basic concepts even without placing a hand on a computer.
The women learn the basics of computer architecture and electronics. They play computer games made by their own efforts. They use a variety of hardware including desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and the Raspberry Pi.
In an intensive week, every girl who joins them not only learns basics of using a computer, but, they exercise their minds in ways that inspires new, creative ways of thinking about life. As they play games, they learn leadership and teamwork.
Code for Cape Town – South Africa
Code4CT exists to see young South African women in positions to drive African innovation. Young women in this project are made to discover how they can leverage technology for social innovation. They develop the skills that will allow them to contribute meaningfully to innovation system. They are challenged to direct their own learning and reach their full potential.
Most girls avoid tech in courses and careers because they find computer science either boring or are convinced it’s not for them. The way to their inner geek isn’t typically through math and science, as it is for boys, but through their love of creative self-expression and social networking.
Building up these girls, leading them to the confidence that comes with handling things previously unknown is the future of movement toward Africa’s hidden treasure, and more.