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Africa Code Week encourages coding skills in young
November 21, 2016, 3:26 pm

During this year’s Africa Code Week (ACW), Rogeema Kenny, an electrical engineer in Cape Town, South Africa, took it upon herself to train 1,000 young people in basic coding skills.

In just nine days, the young engineer, author, motivational speaker, and activist helped bring digital literacy skills to marginalized communities in the Greater Cape Town region.

"After attending a ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop with ACW last year, I immediately noticed its potential for teaching coding basics to children and beginners of all levels in a fun, interactive, and simple way. The coding concepts weren't new to me, but the way it was taught was completely revolutionary."

Started in 2015, ACW is a continent-wide initiative intended to get children, teenagers, and young adults interested in software coding. This year’s session took place between 15 – 23 October in association with Software company SAP.

To make Kenny's ambitions a reality, she took the project to The Hope Network, an organization dedicated to awarding scholarships to talented female students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). They found trainers and venues, trained volunteers, installed the necessary software, conducted marketing to secure bookings, and got back-office operations up-and-running in record time. They then applied for and got a Google micro grant that obliged them to train100 or more children during this year's ACW.

Kenny believes that initiatives like ACW make digital literacy more accessible and help ensure Africa's success in the global economy.

During the 2015 ACW, over 89 000 young people were introduced to coding across 17 countries in 10 days; the target had been to train 20,000. This year, thousands of coding activities were organized in 30 countries with the aim of engaging 150,000 youth across Africa to write their first lines of code. The target for 2016 is likely to be exceeded and results are expected in the third week of November. Over the next 10 years, ACW aims to empower more than 200,000 teachers and touch the lives of five million children.

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