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Africa Code Week kicks off

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SAP has announced the start of Africa Code Week, a continent-wide initiative to spread digital literacy and simplify access to coding education for young people.

From 1 to 10 October 2015, online sessions and hundreds of free coding workshops will be organized for children and youth aged 8 to 24 across 17 countries: Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia and Uganda.

“Digital literacy has the power to put millions of young Africans on the path to successful careers,” says Rachid Belmokhtar, the Minister of Education and Vocational Training of the Kingdom of Morocco. “Trained, tech-savvy graduates are needed to improve Africa’s position in the globally competitive knowledge economy. Everyone — from governments and educational institutions all the way to NGOs and corporations — has a role to play to spread digital literacy across Africa.”

Africa Code Week is part of SAP’s effort to bridge this digital skills gap and drive sustainable growth in Africa. The company already invests in the SAP Skills for Africa program, which provides additional business and IT skills to recent university graduates. Africa Code Week reinforces that commitment to graduates while extending it to primary and secondary students, creating a full cycle of skills support for young people in Africa.

Founded and orchestrated by SAP in partnership with Simplon.co, AMPION, the Galway Education Centre, the Cape Town Science Centre and the King Baudouin Foundation, Africa Code Week is supported by a fast-growing network of local governments, international and local educational organisations, NGOs and software companies across the continent. Google also joined Africa Code Week as a strategic partner to support local organizers of computer science and coding activities all over Africa.

Africa has the fastest growing digital consumer market and the largest working-age population in the world. The World Economic Forum* expects the population of Africa to double to 1-billion by 2050, exceeding that of China and India. The potential problems triggered by this boom in working-age youth is compounded by a lack of educational opportunities, technology training in particular. At the same time, African companies are scrambling to fill positions with employees who possess the right digital skills. Only one percent of African children leave school with basic coding skills.

In preparation for Africa Code Week, SAP has deployed its own IT experts as volunteers to train adults, parents, teachers and government staff, giving them the tools they need to bring coding knowledge to children and youth. To-date, they have already trained 1 500 educators.

Workshops for the 8-11 and 12-17 age groups are based on Scratch, the system developed by the MIT Media Lab to simplify the face of coding for the young generation. Provided free of charge, Scratch makes coding accessible to anyone and is being used by millions of kids and teens around the world to create and share interactive stories, animations and games. Via the openSAP platform, SAP also offers free massive open online courses (MOOCs) for those who cannot attend Africa Code Week events or who want to take their Scratch programming experience to the next level. Local organizers will be able to setup computer science clubs in schools and introduce students aged 9-14 to computer science using the free and easy-to-use Google CS First enrichment materials.

Students aged 18-24 will learn how to leverage Web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript, as well as Meteor.js. to create their own WhatsApp clone, a simple messaging app that runs on mobile devices. In parallel, AMPION Africa Code Week buses will tour Rwanda and the Western Cape in South Africa to allow children in rural areas to join the coding revolution.

“Over the next decade, Africa’s youth will determine whether the continent wins or loses the game,” says Pfungwa Serima, executive chairman of SAP Africa. “The Digital Economy is here and the opportunities is presents are manifold. If we equip young Africans with the best technology, give them skills that make them relevant to the job market and empower them to be bold and innovative, we’ll see them do amazing things.”