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African Initiatives Aim to Prepare More Young People for STEM

NAIROBI, KENYA-SEPTEMBER 10, 2014: Unidentified girls study in a simple classroom near Nairobi, Kenya.

One of the tiniest countries in Africa, Rwanda, is inspiring nations throughout the continent to encourage female STEM entrepreneurship.

This year, Rwanda was the only country in Africa to make it to the top 10 nations listed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report

The country is encouraging young women and girls to pursue STEM through the Miss Geek Rwanda competition. Since 2014, Girls in both urban and rural areas throughout Rwanda have competed to create apps that solve real-world tech problems

The Rwandan competition has become so popular that it has inspired “Miss Geek” competitions in 22 African nations, including Ghana. The Guanan competition hopes to attract up to 20 % of women and girls to STEM careers every year.

In 2019, 18-year-old Selasi Domi-Kuwornu was crowned “Miss Geek Ghana” for her “Kasa-Cash System,” an app that prevents theft in mobile financial transactions. Domi-Kuwornu told GNA that she created the app to protect Ghanaians who are not technologically savvy from electronic theft. “So, this will surely make an impact, and is voice recognition so anyone can access it easily and use it effectively,” she said.

Throughout Africa, young women and men alike are benefiting from the African Development Bank’s Coding for Employment initiative. In 2018, the initiative launched pilot programs in Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal, and is creating 130 Information and Communication Technology Centers of Excellence in the continent. These centers will prepare roughly 234,000 young Africans for employment, and is expected to spur more than 9 million jobs

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