UNESCO World Teachers Day, Africa Code Week celebrates digital skills across the globe
09-10-2019 12:29:00 | by: Nixon Kanali | hits: 1994 | Tags:

A delegation of African ambassadors, Permanent Delegates to UNESCO, UNESCO officials and SAP executives met in Paris today to discuss partnership opportunities for greater digital skills development among African and French youth. Forming part of the annual World Teacher’s Day celebrations, which is held on October 5th each year, the meeting was held in the VIP Lounge of the SAP Tower in Levallois-Perret.

On the agenda: a discussion over how African countries can foster more public-private partnerships to scale the impact of Africa Code Week and bring greater numbers of youth into the digital fold. Launched and led by SAP in close partnership with UNESCO YouthMobile and a fast-growing network of like-minded partners, Africa Code Week is a digital skills development initiative that takes place every year in October and has benefitted more than 4.1 million African youth across 37 countries since 2015.

According to Liam Ryan, SAP Ireland Managing Director & President of the CSR EMEA Governance Committee, the drive for digital skills development is now being supported by a continent-wide family of like-minded partners. “Between 15 and 20 million increasingly well-educated young people are due to join the African workforce every year over the next thirty years. Equipping them with digital skills and inspiring them to pursue the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be fundamental not only to the success and growth of economies in Africa, but across Europe and the world. We welcome our distinguished guests from the public and private sectors and look forward to a close and successful working partnership during this year’s Africa Code Week activities.”

In 2018, the French government launched a new digital inclusion strategy to give the 6.7 million French citizens that don’t yet use the internet improved access to digital skills and infrastructure. According to research by Human Resources firm Randstat, one in five French people remain uncomfortable with digital technology, and two-thirds of the working population do not feel the urgent need to be trained in technology.

Access to skilled workers in France and across the European Union has also become a dominating issue. According to estimates by the European Commission, the ICT sector in the EU could face a skills shortage totaling 756 000 unfilled positions by next year.  The skills shortage is only one side of the challenge: the World Economic Forum believes more than half of all workers globally will need to be reskilled within the next three years as digital technologies upend industries and create the need for entirely new types of jobs.

France’s history is inextricably linked to the African continent, and it remains one of its most important trade partners. According to 2015 data, 619 000 nationals of African states legally reside in France, mostly from countries such as Mali, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A further three million French nationals of sub-Saharan African origin live in France.

Moez Chakchouk, Assistant Director-General for Communications and Information at UNESCO, said it’s critical that all youth share in the opportunities presented by the 21st century digital economy. “Digital skills are the ticket to greater economic participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and an essential component to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially as it relates to Education (Goal #4). As we celebrate World Teacher’s Day and observe the start of this year’s Africa Code Week, we wish all our teachers, partners, volunteers and aspiring coders all the best.”

At the conclusion of the discussions, delegates attended a coding workshop with children to see first-hand the ease at which basic coding skills can be learned and what opportunities Africa Code Week creates for greater digital skills development at a mass scale.

On a mission to power opportunity for all of Africa’s youth through digital inclusion, Africa Code Week has created a lasting positive contribution across the continent. Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility and Africa Code Week Global Lead at SAP, said: “In line with our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Africa Code Week is one example of how we strive for inclusive education (Goal #4), support gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (Goal #5) and build strong partnerships with public and private sector organisations (Goal #17). As we enter this year’s Africa Code Week activities, our aim is to reach 1.5 million African youth while building improved local training capacity. We thank our public and private sector partners in Africa and France for their valuable contribution to the future of the world’s most youthful continent.”

Africa Code Week is taking place in 37 African countries throughout the month of October.