With funding from the Belgium government the initiative will empower and equip women and girls with digital literacy skills so that they become computer programmers, creators and designers.
It was launched by UN Women, African Union Commission (AUC) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with other three partners including the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and UNESCO.
Speaking during the function, Minister for Community Development, Gender, Women and Special Groups, Dr Dorothy Gwajima said that AGCCI will reduce the gender digital gap through digital skills capacity building, reducing device and connectivity costs and changing policies that keep women offline.
Research shows that 90 per cent of future jobs will require ICT skills while 2 million new jobs will be created in the computer, mathematical, architecture and engineering fields, she stated.
“We need to support women and girls in this career because they are still lagging behind in this field,” said Dr Gwajima as she called upon development partners to join the initiative to scale up the programme and expand the number of girls that will benefit from it.
The minister noted that there are many girls in rural and marginalized areas who need to benefit from the initiative.
Representing the UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, UN Women Deputy Regional Director, Zebib Kuvuma said the second phase will be implemented in 11countries that includes Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.
“We will adopt continental level actions that aim to support the institutionalization of gender mainstreaming in ICT and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) policies and education curricula in AU member states to sustain the impact at national level through robust national ownership,” she said.
Kuvuma said that supporting girls in science today means they will mentor more girls in future. She said they also look at the barriers that prevent girls from pursuing careers in STEM.
Belgium Ambassador to Tanzania, Peter Van Acker added that gender equality; human rights for women and girls are long-standing priorities of Belgium in its internal and external policies.
He said the objectives of the initiative correspond to the strategic priorities of Belgian development cooperation to strengthen the education and empowerment of women and girls.
“Belgium would like to congratulate all partners for the results achieved during the first phase of the AGCCI and the participation of 2500 girls and young women from all over Africa in the coding camp,” asserted Van Acker, adding, the Belgium government remains a reliable partner on which UN Women can rely and a strong supporter of SDG 5 .
He added: “Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 5 is not only the business of UN Women, but the responsibility of all. All together can we overcome the obstacles and achieve gender equality.
The Ambassador said Belgium is convinced that this initiative will reduce technological divide by increasing women's access to modern technologies and on the other hand, strengthen empowerment through access to education and employment by mastering new technologies.