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The African Development Bank’s Coding for Employment program’s newest digital training centers will dedicate half of their first training slots to women applicants, the Bank announced on International Girls in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Day.

The Coding for Employment program, which provides African youth with the digital skills they need to participate effectively in the global digital economy, is part of a foundational pipeline enabling girls and young women to pursue careers in science and technology.

On March 8, 2022, Coding For Employment hosted virtual and in-person ribbon-cutting ceremonies for three new centers of excellence. Covenant University in Ogun State and Gombe State University in Gombe State are two of the Nigerian centers. The third center of excellence is located on the campus of Kenya’s University of Nairobi. Covenant University and the University of Nairobi hosted the ceremonies. Attendees included bank representatives, Coding for Employment partners, and university personnel.

“This launch is a reflection of the Bank’s strong commitment to creating a world where gender equality is true in the classroom, in the boardroom, and in every sector of the economy in order to build a more inclusive, innovative, and resilient African society,” Martha Phiri, Bank Director for Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development said in virtual remarks.

Initially, the centres will serve participants in Coding for Employment’s Digital Ambassadors program, a new, intensive peer-to-peer training model set to expand digital skills to more African youth, especially in rural communities where internet connectivity is low.

The launch event also included a virtual discussion on the role of women in Africa’s digital economy as well as persistent gender disparities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, which organizes the Girls in ICT Day, only 30% of the world’s tech science and technology professionals are women.

“Socio-cultural norms, beliefs, and bias have long informed how women are perceived and limited the opportunities for women to pursue careers in the technology field. Breaking these biases requires exposing young girls to coding and to STEM-related fields very early on, for them to see it as a viable career path,” said Olatomiwa Williams, Microsoft’s Nigeria country manager. Microsoft is a Coding for an Employment partner.

The new centers of excellence are equipped with 50 computers, ergonomic furniture in classroom-style learning stations, and informal networking areas. Students enrolled in Coding for Employment programs gain access to free courses in web design, app development, data science, and digital marketing, among others.

The Coding for Employment Program is a key component of the African Development Bank Group’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative, which aims to put Africa’s youth on a path to prosperity. By 2025, the Jobs for Youth in Africa Initiative aims to equip 50 million youth with employable skills and create 25 million jobs in agriculture, information, communication, and technology fields, and other key industries across Africa. 

The centers’ opening brings to seven the number of Coding for Employment-branded learning spaces across the continent, including in Rwanda, Senegal, and Côte d’Ivoire. Coding for Employment plans to open 130 centers across Africa by 2025.

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