Miss.Africa Digital Program recently caught up with Ms. Olubunmi Alabi the Managing Director Let girls Code institute. Let girls Code institute, a non-profit organization that works to empower the next generation of African Women leaders in computing to transform their future and help lead their communities towards a new era of technical expertise and entrepreneurship from exposure to basic programming skills. She speaks about their program in our interview below
1. Can you tell us about this project that has applied for the 2019 Miss . Africa Digital Seed Fund Awards?
Let girls Code institute is a non-profit organization that works to empower the next generation of African Women leaders in computing to transform their future and help lead their communities towards a new era of technical expertise and entrepreneurship from exposure to basic programming skills. Through Let girls Code institutes various camps, workshops and mentorship opportunities the institute will support Women and girls that with determination, hard work, and a couple of lines of code, the future is theirs for the making. The Let girls Code institute developers programme will train, tool and position 10,000 African Female hands-on software developers for the local and international software development market.
Let girls Code institute promotes development in sub-Saharan African regions starting with Nigeria by cultivating young technology entrepreneurs. We have developed curriculum materials, software technologies, platforms, and networks that enable Women and Girls in sub-Saharan African emerging regions to innovate in the area of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Participants will undergo a project-based model to training wherein they will be exposed to foundational software development tools as well as resources to thrive as a modern-day software developer or entrepreneur. The programme will seek to establish the foundation knowledge, tools and platform upon which participants can pursue a career as software developers or technology entrepreneurs.
2. What are some of the challenges you are trying to address with your project?
According to the African Development Bank, Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed and discouraged, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment. Similarly a report published by vanguard papers online, in Nigeria stated that 26.6 per cent of women within the labour force (aged 16-64 and willing, able, and actively seeking work) were unemployed, 6.3 per cent higher than the unemployment rate for men (20.3%), and 3.5 percent higher than the total labour force unemployment rate, which is 23.1 percent.
The good news however is: According to the World Bank (2019) there will be 230 million “digital jobs” in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030. Ghana alone will offer 9 million digital jobs and nearly $4 billion in revenue potential through 2030. This opportunity is what Let girls code Africa is preparing women for.
3. How are you bringing innovative approaches to these problems?
Let girls code institute works with women in Africa. Its target group are women aged 18-35 especially from disadvantaged backgrounds interested in codding/programming.
Women who are interested in starting their own firms or becoming gainfully employed as programmers or entrepreneurs. The strategy starts with training lasting 12 weeks which also includes links to business grant competitions, job fairs with placement opportunities participants’ respective localities. The program also offers continuity on the platform to support participants with learning and engagement opportunities on a continuous basis.
Our area of focus was selected based on societal needs across Africa and in line with MDG.
Some of our focus areas include the following:
- Agriculture Tech
- Fin Tech
4. How does it feel to gain international recognition for your work?
The journey towards the commencement of Let Girls code project and subsequently towards this award has not been easy. Right from the moment when the idea was conceived to the outline of the project which is still being initiated until today, a lot of work has been done. Transforming the idea to the real output required a good deal of efforts and various challenges came in the way. I was not alone though, I had my colleagues who walked along with me and my counsellors and mentors who provided unconditional support to me. Above all, I am thankful to the Board members and the management of Miss.Africa Digital Seed Fund Awards who showed so much trust and faith in me, this has given me an energy boost for this project.
The project is also very close to my heart because it is about empowering women to be able to financially support themselves, their families and to be able to contribute positively to the society using technology support sustainability. Being a woman in STEM I can relate with the bias and challenges they have or may face and Let Girls Code institute has as much as it can minimized these barriers. I am very grateful for the opportunity to help other African women like myself.
5. Can you explain why skills for women in tech is so important?
When considering the statistics of Unemployment in Africa especially comparing the ratio for men to women it is obvious that women are the most hit by unemployment and under employment. Skills for women in tech is so important because it allows these women flexibility of working and earning or it gives them a chance to be gainfully employed. The World Bank also stated that there will be 230 million “digital jobs” in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 an opportunity that let girls code institute wants to prepare its students for.
6. What in your opinion should be done to address the digital skills gap in Africa?
In my opinion technology transfer and technology innovation should be able to solve the digital skill gap in Africa. Africans need to acquire first the basic programming skills then either customise already successful solutions or develop new ones as problems in each continent are unique. Already the African information and communications technology (ICT) sector has recorded significant innovations. These include the widely reported M-Pesa service, Phones for Health (P4H) which leverages mobile phone technology to strengthen health systems, open government and open data, and ICT-driven commodity exchanges.
Olubunmi Alabi F. Managing Director Let girls Code institute
Let girls Code institutes various camps, workshops, and mentorship opportunities, Let girls Code institute will support Women and girls that with determination, hard work, and a couple lines of code, the future is theirs for the making. The Let girls Code institute developers programme will train, tool and position 10,000 African Female hands-on software developers for the local and international software development market.