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SAP Africa Code Week exceeds target, trains 2.3m

SAP Africa Code Week exceeds target, trains 2.3m

SAP, in partnership with public and private sector institutions, trained over 2.3 million youth across 37 African countries during Africa Code Week 2018.

This number, released this week, exceeded expectations, with almost double the 1.3 million youth trained during the 2017 edition of the digital skills initiative.

Established in 2015, SAP Africa Code Week is an initiative that brings together hundreds of schools, teachers, governments, businesses and non-profit organisations, with the aim to empower young people across Africa with digital literacy skills.

The skills initiative was formed by SAP EMEA, in partnership with the Cape Town Science Centre, Google, Galway Education Centre, UNESCO and local government, among others.

The 2018 edition was extended to the entire month of October, allowing schools and participating organisations one week of their choice to dedicate to training school pupils.

Cathy Smith, MD of SAP Africa, says the fourth industrial revolution is forcing a complete rethink of how education is approached, with a strong focus on lifelong skills development.

"Young people in Africa don't just need opportunities, they need to know how to take the first steps to get there. They need role models and guidance.

"Africa Code Week is our response: by inspiring a new generation of African youth through digital skills development, and by empowering teachers and communities with digital teaching tools, we aim to accelerate digital literacy while ensuring a more inclusive and innovation-led workforce," Smith explains.

Since its launch, Africa Code Week has empowered and trained over four million pupils with digital skills, with over 500 000 being South African scholars, says SAP.

Government partnership

A World Bank report found 40 million young people in Sub-Saharan Africa are currently unemployed, with nearly 35% lacking the basic skills they need to perform a job, with technology skills being an area of concern.

SAP has partnered with the South African government and private local organisations to implement a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country's youth, through the SAP Skills for Africa initiative.

Speaking at the announcement of the African National Congress (ANC) election manifesto at the weekend, president Cyril Ramaphosa said the ANC will increase spending on innovation and aim for more technological breakthroughs critical to the country's development through support for research.

He added the party intends to scale-up skills development for youth in areas such as data analytics, Internet of things, blockchain and machine learning.

"[We will] work with partners to train workers and unleash their talents and creativity. A just transition framework will be developed with all stakeholders to address re-skilling and support for workers displaced by new technologies.

"[We will] open opportunities for young people to develop new software and applications, devices and equipment through specialised start-up support programmes, for use by all spheres of government and society. A digital innovation centre will be established for this purpose within the next three years."

SAP Africa Code Week says its focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 event.

"There is only one way to bring the promises of the fourth industrial revolution to the young generation: through a reference point, and that reference point is the teacher," says Davide Storti, YouthMobile Initiative coordinator at UNESCO's Knowledge Societies Division.

"We look forward to furthering dialogue with governments, so we can translate the powerful partnerships and networking built by and around Africa Code Week into long-term programmes that sustain the excitement around 21st century learning."

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