Passionate about making coding and digital literacy accessible to young people on the African continent, Olajide Ademola Ajayi (aka: 'Ade') is not only Africa Code Week’s Global Coordinator, but also the founder of CODERINA, an NGO working to promote and strengthen coding and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills acquisition among African students and teachers. This is in addition to being involved in several STEM /coding initiatives and his day job as a Product Support Leader at SAP.
He says, “I believe in the power of coding to foster the rise of a skilled, job-ready and business-savvy generation, ready to tackle today's and tomorrow's challenges.”
We sat down with him to unpack why digital skills are crucial for 2022 and beyond:
What is the current landscape when it comes to tech skills in Africa and what opportunities does it offer for children?
Research by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank reveals that there is a large, unmet demand for digital skills. According to this study, the need for training will surge in the coming decade, as jobs that previously did not require these skills will begin to do so. This is the motivation policymakers, educators and non-profits on the continent need to start providing appropriate training so that our children are equipped for the jobs of tomorrow.
What can be done to improve tech education in Africa?
Unfortunately, Africa lacks basic infrastructure such as electricity and reliable internet connection. What’s more, the cost of devices and connectivity is out of reach for many. These issues need to be urgently addressed if the continent is to be transformed into the global powerhouse of the future, as outlined within the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
How can teachers be empowered?
We need to upskill our teachers so that they, in turn, can teach the next generation. Governments cannot do this on their own, and so, partnerships with appropriate organisations are key for equipping teachers with the necessary training, tools and resources. ACW, in partnership with SAP, UNESCO the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and Irish Aid, for instance, provides Train-the-Teacher sessions to build local teaching capacity, equip teachers to be able to support digital learning and inspire a new generation of tech-savvy young Africans.
How can we achieve gender equality when it comes to STEM?
Initiatives like ACW’s Women Empowerment Program (WEP) can significantly contribute to growing the number of females in science and technology. Female African teachers and educators are in a unique position to help impact the lives of female students. WEP equips them with the skills and knowledge they need to successfully teach, inspire, mentor and prepare girls for tomorrow's tech workplace. Doing so supports the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality) and 17 (partnerships for the goals). Through digital skills programs like Africa Code Week and through the power of partnerships, Africa can double-down on 21st century training and successfully create an innovative and thriving continent, ready and equipped for tomorrow’s challenging and competitive workforce.