MICROSOFT and a non-profit social enterprise, Tech4Dev, have entered into a partneship on the Women Techsters Initiative to train girls and women across Africa in coding and deep tech skills, aiming to bridge the digital and technology divide and ensure equal access to opportunities across the continent.
The Women Techsters initiative, which is aimed at girls and women between 16–40, across 54 countries in Africa, was launched in a virtual roundtable hosted by Microsoft Philanthropies and Tech4Dev.
In her opening remark, Regional Director, Microsoft Philanthropies MEA, Ghada Khalifa, who was excited about the initiative being scaled to other countries on the African continent from Nigeria where the programme was piloted said that: “When we empower girls and women in the ICT industry, through greater access to skills and training, we not only unlock innovation, but also economic opportunities.”
A recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) cautioned that Africa’s inequality could worsen unless concrete action is taken to bridge the continent’s digital divide.
Microsoft Country Manager in Nigeria, Akin Banuso, shared this sentiment, acknowledging that while much has been done on the continent to streamline upskilling in STEM areas, more and continuous efforts are required particularly in industries like these, that are ever-changing.
He said: “The overall objective of Women Techsters is to grow and support a community of tech empowered girls and women across the continent, who will have equal access to decent job opportunities as well as build and scale their ideas into tech-enabled businesses and deep tech start-ups, ultimately aiding overall economic growth.”
Unpacking more around the intricacies of the initiative and partnership, Executive Director at Tech4Dev, Diwura Oladepo, pointed out that the initiative aligns with two of the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve gender equality and decent work and economic growth for women and girls.
Oladepo noted that: “Partnering with Microsoft made complete sense when it came to seeking a partner and organisation that has continuously reaffirmed its commitment to digitally transforming communities through upskilling and fostering a knowledge economy.
“Our shared belief that training and empowering young women across Africa will help achieve a male-female ratio balance in the technology space, while providing them with useful skills to build more efficient businesses, or rewarding careers using technology.”
The training provided through the initiative will focus on technical skills such as software development, product design, product management, data science and AI engineering, and cybersecurity, and will be delivered through a series of simultaneous activities.
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