This is part of our 2018 blog series from the Miss.Africa Digital Seed Fund winners
The Miss Africa Digital program – the first Pan-African program for women in technology, 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 continually seeks to build the capacity and competencies of young women by equipping them with skills in emerging technologies that will enable them to create effective and sustainable solutions to local problems. A defining challenge on the continent is the inability to not only harness the creativity and energy of young people but also to include women who make up half of the continent’s population in the process.
As such, We (Kumasi Hive) through its Bridge the Gap initiative is excited about this opportunity the opportunity to impact more girls and to work together with Miss Africa Seed Fund/DCA Trust on developing the critical mass of competent female skilled personnel, innovators & entrepreneurs through practical skills training, problem-solving skills and leadership training using digital technologies.”
Kumasi hive has embarked on a number of projects to train young women in web development, graphic design, 3D printing and internet of things, which have been transformational. Miss Africa Digital is one of the channels that reaches and mentors young women who have interest in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and also providing them with entrepreneurial skills.
The Miss Africa Digital training program is a 5-month program that took place from 20th September, 2018 to 3rd March, 2019. Through the Miss Africa program, 90 young women were successfully trained in web development, graphic design and internet of things (IoT).
Some of the objectives of the Miss Africa training program ranged from helping participants understand the various fields in which graphic design is required and possible career paths in graphic design to building complex web user interfaces and electronic projects at component and system module and other relevant concepts.
As part of the training, participants were taken through design thinking where they were introduced to the concept of empathy and its application in market research, problem and solution trees, ideation, prototyping and testing. Following these sessions, participants were tasked to conduct surveys on challenges faced by their colleagues with regards to the training program to help them better grasp the design thinking concepts. Additionally, participants probed into the key problems that exist in Ghana and how emerging technologies like IoT can be used as tools to create solutions to these problems. The challenges that were discussed exist in areas such as, education, youth unemployment, waste management and energy.
An expected output from the training was to help participants develop workable solutions to these key problems that contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals. At the end of the training, r each cohort had its own hackathon. Participants were given the platform to pitch their solutions or projects they had developed in the course of the training to a jury. Solutions developed by participants included user friendly platforms for online purchasing of tickets, illustrations that will make teaching and learning of science in high schools interactive, vein detection using ultrasonic waves, detection of impurities in consumables using electrochemical platforms and other important solutions.
A second course, on the internet of things was taught to develop students’ awareness, competence and confidence in understanding and using relevant technology to solve simple technological problems. This is because the concept of the Internet of Things is becoming increasingly important and understanding both the technical and wider societal impacts of the Internet of Things will be crucial for the digital citizens of the future.
In the third important course, almost everything around us these days comes in visual packages, billboards, social media to a whole lot others. There are a lot of startups, growing companies, religious, governmental and private bodies etc constantly in need of designs related to several +fields of Graphic Design. Because of this reason it has become a more relatable area and help students understand the strengths of various tool/software in graphic design to make sure students are not overwhelmed with acquiring, setting-up, and familiarizing themselves the tools. It was also designed to help them to understand design theory and what makes a design visually appealing.
Having gender diversity in technology is necessary to ensure that the approach to solving the problems faced on the continent is collective and leverages the efforts of both men and women. One way to bridge the gender digital divide is to provide mentorship and access to tools to women who have interest in pursuing careers in STEM. In 3 years, Kumasi Hive has provided over 2000 young people of which 40% are women with skills in emerging technologies and entrepreneurship and providing resources for these young people to build their products and even establish their own startups.
The benefits that emerging technologies are projected to have on economies in the near future are enormous. Technology will revolutionize man’s way of life and will be instrumental in driving any form of advancements in Africa. A long term approach to ensuring that Africa and its young population are not left behind is to invest in young people, which includes women by providing them with the tools and spaces for them to gain skills that make them globally competitive.
You can watch part of a video of Kumsi Hive’s work here.