NIGERIA – Microsoft has partnered with Tech4Dev, a non-profit social enterprise, on the Women Techsters Initiative to train girls and women in Nigeria and across Africa in coding and deep technology skills.
This partnership aims to bridge the digital and technology divide and ensure equal access to opportunities across the continent.
The Women Techsters initiative, which is aimed at girls and women between 16 and 40, across 54 countries in Africa, was launched in a virtual roundtable today, hosted by Microsoft Philanthropies and Tech4Dev.
The training provided through the initiative will focus on technical skills such as software development, product design, product management, data science and AI engineering, and cybersecurity, and will be delivered through a series of simultaneous activities.
“When we empower girls and women in the ICT industry, through greater access to skills and training, we not only unlock innovation, but also economic opportunities.”Ghada Khalifa – Regional Director, Microsoft Philanthropies MEA
Open days, boot camps and masterclasses will serve as a virtual program for girls and women across the continent to learn about leveraging technology for career and business growth.
The program has been developed in such a way, that participants will not only learn and develop deep technical skills but can fill knowledge gaps; learn coding skills and jumpstart their careers.
In her opening remark, Ghada Khalifa, Regional Director- Microsoft Philanthropies MEA, was excited about the initiative being scaled to other countries on the African continent from Nigeria where the program was piloted.
“When we empower girls and women in the ICT industry, through greater access to skills and training, we not only unlock innovation, but also economic opportunities,” she said.
Akin Banuso, Microsoft Country Manager in Nigeria shared this sentiment, acknowledging that while much has been done on the continent to streamline upskilling in STEM areas, more and continuous efforts are required – particularly in industries like these that are ever-changing.
“The overall objective of Women Techsters is to grow and support a community of tech empowered girls and women across the continent, who will have equal access to decent job opportunities as well as build and scale their ideas into tech-enabled businesses and deep tech start-ups, ultimately aiding overall economic growth.”
Unpacking more around the intricacies of the initiative and partnership, Diwura Oladepo, Executive Director at Tech4Dev pointed out that the initiative aligns with two of the Sustainable Development Goals – to achieve gender equality and decent work and economic growth for women and girls.
“Partnering with Microsoft made complete sense when it came to seeking a partner and organisation that has continuously reaffirmed its commitment to digitally transforming communities through upskilling and fostering a knowledge economy,” Diwura Oladepo said.
“Our shared belief that training and empowering young women across Africa will help achieve a male-female ratio balance in the technology space, while providing them with useful skills to build more efficient businesses, or rewarding careers using technology.”
The Women Techsters fellowship will be a year-long coding program and will make use of standardised learning curriculums across five learning tracks. The training will be for three months, supported by a six-month internship and enrolment into a mentorship program.