A global gender gap exists in internet usage and this gap is the largest in Africa. In 2022, the Connected African Girls Coding Camp is teaming up with the government of Namibia, U.N. Namibia, U.N. Women and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to host a two-week coding training camp dedicated to African females aged 12 to 25. This is the fifth time the camp is happening and 100 girls from Namibia will attend along with 2,000 girls from all over the African continent who will join virtually. Instructors will teach in both English and French to be inclusive for all participants. The coding camp runs from 16-24 August 2022 and will be hosted at the Windhoek Palm Hotel in Namibia.
In Africa, internet usage is low in comparison to other regions of the world. Just 35% of men use the internet and an even lower 24% of women are digitally active, according to an ITU 2021 report. In addition, African women are less likely to own mobile phones, use a mobile phone on a daily basis, own a phone with internet access, own computers or access the internet regularly compared to African men.
In a world that continues to grow digitally, technological knowledge becomes a prerequisite for many professional fields. There is a correlation between the limited number of women in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) fields and the gender gap in internet usage. Without teaching women how to access and use the internet, the difficulty for women to participate in STEAM fields will remain and the gender gap will broaden.
Many groups are currently working to connect more women to the internet in Africa. The African School on Internet Governance, U.N. Women and many other organizations focus on eliminating certain barriers that prevent digital inequity. These include, for example, “unavailable or unaffordable access, low digital literacy and confidence and lack of relevant content,” The Washington Post reports.
The Boot Camp
The Connected African Girls Coding Camp also aims to reduce this gap by teaching young African women and girls the foundational skills to “find long-term success in education, employment and entrepreneurship while creating a conducive environment for collaborative efforts.”
The coding camp consists of four workshops that each teach the participants a different tech-related skill. These include “animation, web development & gaming, IoT & robotics and 3D printing.” The main workshops are accompanied by courses on topics such as “artificial intelligence, design thinking and computational thinking.” The training camp will also run master classes on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa’s Agenda 2063 as well as gender-based violence and “personal development skills.”
On the last day of the camp, the participants will attend “an innovation fair” where the girls will showcase the projects they developed during the camp. These projects stand as potential solutions to tackling Africa’s socio-economic issues and barriers. During “the last four editions of the coding camp,” participants created 198 innovative projects. The program recognized 40 of these programs as “contributions to the community.”
The Connected African Girls Coding Camp aims to do more than teach thousands of young women and girls the foundations of technology and promote access to Information Technology and Communications (ICT). It hopes to empower them to thrive in the tech industry as a whole and build the confidence they need to be successful. Furthermore, organizers of the boot camp hope that participants will make meaningful connections throughout the two weeks.
– Jordan Oh