In the past decade within Africa, coding has been considered a catalyst to bridge the digital skills gap. And on the international Women & Girls in ICT Day, the same can be said in Zimbabwe.
Since being founded by Econet Wireless in 2014, Muzinda Hub holds an esteemed track record when it comes to empowering young Zimbabweans, aged 18 – 35 years of age, to learn how to code.
Despite the fact that the technology hub has enrolled over 3,500 youths onto its flagship training program in an effort to provide them with affordable access to globally competitive digital skills training, to further cultivate employment opportunities and effect positive social transformation within their communities, less than 30% of Muzinda’s training cohorts over the past five years have comprised of women. Such data are a reflection of how much coding and ICT within Zimbabwe – as well as other Sub-Saharan African countries, is still considered a male-orientated skill-set and ability.
“UNESCO figures show girls are 50% less likely to attend higher education than boys and those that are in education are not studying science, technology and engineering. If these trends continue, we are facing a future where girls will be absent from the digital economy - we want to change that.” said Vimbai Gwata - Head of Muzinda Hub.
In 2019, Muzinda Hub partnered with Theirworld (Code Club initiative) to provide wider access to basic technology and coding courses to 120 young girls aged 10 - 20 in Harare, Zimbabwe. The project teaches girls computer literacy, basic coding, how to create apps, as well as crucial life skills such as confidence, creativity and critical thinking. The Code Club initiative reflects the growing focus on the rise of digitalisation, automation, artificial intelligence and robotics, and the implications they will have on the workplace of the future.
This partnership has reinforced the importance of establishing gender balance within all cohorts of Muzinda Hub’s pre-existing Digital Skills Training and Alumni Placement Programs, to make a more intentional effort in the exposure and recruitment of women and girls to all things tech-related. It is our hope and vision that all members of the African Digital Economy are wholly representative of the society and communities they live in.
Laura Lombardo, project manager at Theirworld said “As we have been working to reduce the gender and digital skill gap in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria as well as Lebanon since 2016, the partnership with the Muzinda hub was a great opportunity to join forces and widen our impact. The Muzinda Hub project is the start of a new skills initiative for women and girls that will combine technology, coding, entrepreneurship skills in a comprehensive program for marginalized girls."
We do hope that this will encourage not only the girls who are attending the program but also their sisters, schoolmates and all the girls in their communities to start seeing computer programming differently, to be inspired to continue studying and developing their skills, so that they can be future the female voices in the tech sector.