The third edition of the Africa Code Week, an initiative by SAP supported by the UNESCO YouthMobile Initiative, was officially launched on 18 June 2017 at the Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa with SAP, UNESCO, the Republic of Mauritius and partners, including ambassadors from all over Africa. This edition, which will run from 15 to 25 October, aims at involving 35 African countries and reaching at least 500 000 children and young girls and boys.
The ceremony took place in presence of Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius, High Patron of the initiative in 2017. In her speech, she particularly highlighted the importance of empowering girls in STEM, as “girls are those who are most at risk of losing out on tomorrow best job opportunities,” in particular in this field. While “many girls are attracted by STEM, there are so few women being portrayed in books”. She further called for public and private sector to join forces and create the proper environment and synergy for creating opportunities and “building confidence at the society level”. Liam Ryan, President of the SAP Corporate Social Responsibility EMEA Governance Committee, recalled that in the midst of the 19th century, a woman, Ada Lovelace, became “the very first computer programmer on the face of the planet”. “She didn't just invent coding,” Ryan said, “but she also predicted that Analytical Engines could be used to compose music, collaborate, produce graphics, and be useful to science”.
“The days where the public and private sectors could do things in isolation are over,” said Clas Neumann, Senior Vice President, Fast Growth Market Strategy & Global Head of SAP Labs Network.
Building on the success of the 2016 edition, which engaged more than 400 000 children and youth in 30 African countries, “Africa Code Week represents a great opportunity for the young generation to approach the world of “digital”, said Davide Storti, YouthMobile Initiative coordinator at UNESCO. He further recalled that supporting policies and strategies are fundamental instruments for unleashing this potential, in line with the efforts by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development for showcasing the power of ICT and broadband-based technologies realizing the 2030 Development Agenda.
“As in today’s digital world most of our actions are guided, or even depend on machines and devices - increasingly simple, but sophisticated - youth should get access and be exposed to what software is and how it shapes ideas into innovations,” said Mr Storti. The proclamation in 2015 by the UNESCO General Conference of the International Day of Universal Access to Information draws greater attention to the issue of the right to information. “Software is one of the key to access information and transform it into empowerment: understanding software is essential to fully participate in the digital revolution,” further highlighted the UNESCO representative.
Africa Code Week is an initiative by SAP, the Cape Town Science Centre and the Galway Education Centre that received a number of awards, including the C4F award 2016 (category: ‘Education of the Future’) from the World Communications Forum in Davos.
The UNESCO YouthMobile initiative deploys and supports projects worldwide to promote the learning of digital technical skills and abilities among young women and men, the citizens of today and tomorrow.