According to UNICEF, there is a large gap in women's and girls' digital adoption and use compared to men and boys. This disparity in usage limits women's access to opportunities offered by digital technology.
One way of closing the gap is to create incentives and opportunities for women to gain easy access to digital technology, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where women's presence in digital technology is significantly low. For this, Tech4Dev, a social enterprise, has opened applications for its 2023 Women Techsters Fellowship.
First launched in 2021, the year-long programme aims to help young girls and women across Africa acquire practical digital technology skills. In the first six months, fellows are intensively trained and mentored in software development, product design, cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence, and others. In the second six months, they work as interns at digital technology companies to perfect their learned skills.
The maiden edition in 2021 covered just five African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa. But Oladiwura Oladepo, executive director of Tech4Dev, said the initiative was designed to expand to 10 other African countries, training 50,000 women and young girls by 2030 to bridge the gap in digital know-how between men and women and create equal employment opportunities.
"This year (2023), we are expanding our impact to empower 50,000 women across 15 African countries: Ethiopia, DR Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, Angola, Mozambique, Madagascar, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa," Oladepo said.
She said the 2023 project would cut across eight learning tracks: Software Development, Product Design, Cybersecurity, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Product Management, Mobile Applications Development, Blockchain and Mixed realities and 3D Animation.
"The objectives of the Women Techsters Initiative are to empower girls and women interested in careers in technology to access the right learning opportunities; enable them to gain access to decent jobs within the technology ecosystem, and equip them with the right skills to thrive through its programs such as the Women Techsters Open Day, boot camp, master class, and fellowship," said Blessing Ashi, Women Techsters' programmes lead.
She said the organisation hopes to have 70% of its trained women gain access to decent jobs, 25% go on to study technology-related courses in the university, and five percent able to build and run technology-enabled deep tech startups.
Interested women and girls can apply here.