On 20th October, 2016 the Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) was invited to the Irish Embassy in Kampala, Uganda to launch the Africa Code Week (ACW- http://africacodeweek.org/about/about/) program in Uganda. ACW is a continent-wide initiative spearheaded by the German multinational corporation and market leader in enterprise application software- Systems, Applications & Products in Data Processing(SAP), with support from the Galway Education Centre, Ireland that aims to spark the interest of African children, teenagers and young adults in software coding. Currently in its second year of implementation, the initiative plans to engage over 150,000 youth across 30 countries.
Gathered in the room that day were local ACW partners responsible for organizing the ACW activities in Uganda. These included affiliates from RAN, Makerere University, College of Engineering, Design, Art & Technology (CEDAT), College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS), Women in Technology Uganda (WITU) and HiveCOLAB, as well as the ACW youth ambassadors- Calvin Kakeeto and Jovia Nanyonjo. The program in Uganda kicked off with a Train-the-Trainer (TTT) session in August, where over 200 University students and young adults were trained by a Master Team from Ireland to deliver workshops and trainings on Scratch- an open source learning platform developed by the MIT Media Lab to simplify the face of coding for the younger generations. Trainers were then selected to visit the 7 participating primary and secondary schools to introduce their students to Scratch. Among the schools participating in the ACW activities are: Nakivubo Blue Primary School, Nakasero Primary School, Kalinabiri Primary School, KCCA Primary School, Makerere Modern Secondary School, Kololo Senior Secondary School and Luzira Secondary School. The school visits will then culminate in an Africa Code Week Day on October 28th, 2016 at Makerere University.
Speaking at the launch that day, the Ambassador of Ireland to Uganda- H.E. Dónal Cronin welcomed all the guests present and thanked them for their contributions towards the organisation of the ACW activities in Uganda. He added that as a result of their efforts, 7 primary and secondary schools had been reached and their students introduced to basic coding on Scratch. “ACW is a marvelous initiative and we are very excited to support Uganda’s participation this year,” he shared. He further mentioned that “basic digital literacy for the next generation should be about coding, as it has the power to put millions of young African people on the path to successful careers and development.” Ambassador Cronin further highlighted the relevance of the ACW initiative in Uganda, which he mentioned had “one of the youngest populations in the world, with an average age of 14” and whichhas been named “the most entrepreneurial country in the world.” He concluded his address by mentioning that he hoped ACW would “ignite and further the empowerment of young people and help give them the skills they need to thrive in the digital age.”
The launch ended on a sweet note with the cutting of an Africa Code Week inspired cake, which was specially baked for the occasion. This was followed by a networking and free interaction session enhancing knowledge generation and sharing.