Pedro disclosed during an Innovation Fair and Award ceremony at the ninth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, which saw 25 young women recognized for their exceptional skills in robotics and IOT, animation, gaming, web development, 3D printing and Turtle Stitch.
“It is unthinkable that in Africa, the digital revolution will take place without young people and women,” Pedro said, noting that about 108 Nigerien girls aged between 12 and 25 were trained in person and over 4,500 participated virtually.
The Camps trained in technical disciplines ranging from web development, gaming, robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing as well as soft skills.
“Today, Nigerien trainees have produced 25 projects and created impressive digital innovations to tackle local sustainability issues, using what they have learnt in the span of only one week,” said Pedro.
Under the initiative’ Connected African Girls Coding Camp and Climate Change Adaptation Hackathon’, young engineers and innovators have devised creative projects that incorporated emerging technologies to fight climate change and build resilience across the continent.
Pedro explained that the Commission would like to see more women who are self-aware, eager to learn about their communities and capable of leading the change they wish to see in society. He pointed out that ECA would not only want to produce future scientists who can contribute to the fourth industrial revolution but also instill confidence in young women.
Pedro said the Connected African Girls initiative was created to reduce the digital gender gap by equipping young African women with the necessary basic skills to achieve long term success in digital education, employment and entrepreneurship.
This is done through creating an enabling environment for collaborative efforts and innovation.
Pedro emphasized that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector played a pivotal role in promoting gender equality and women empowerment as stated in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals 5 (SDGs).
Nearly 90 percent of jobs in the near future, he said, will require skills related to new technologies.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Director for Africa, Anne-Rachel Inne, was impressed by the technology and innovation developed by young women.
Inne indicated that it was important to forge partnerships that would see technologies and innovation deployed to the rural areas where people needed these devices the most.
“Most of our population in general is rural. In the majority of our countries, about 60 to 80 percent of the population is rural. If you are going to take technology that doesn’t mean anything to them then you have a problem in appropriation. You have a problem in making it work and making it sustainable,” Inne said.
Inne emphasized the need to keep these applications simple for rural communities, stating that they have to be in a language that was applicable to that particular population.
She said the young people also needed to ensure that their creativity was protected through intellectual property laws in order to preserve them and earn value for the designs or applications. She urged the young innovators to ensure that their products are marketable, as that’s the only way they will add value.