NewsEast & Horn AfricaSomalia hosts Mogadishu's first tech summit


Posted on Friday, 26 October 2018 10:22

Somalia hosts Mogadishu's first tech summit

By Reuters

 Somali women walk past a partially-shaded wall as they leave the Medina Maternal Child Health center in Mogadishu, Somalia Wednesday, April 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)/ABCX108/13042419413/Stand alone photo/1304251907 Auteurs  : Ben Curtis/AP/SIPAIn a conference centre in the Somali capital Mogadishu, a group of young women are being taught to code.

This is Mogadishu's inaugural tech summit, and one of the focuses has been advancing women and girls in the field of ICT.

The workshop is organised by Bilan Codes, an organisation whose stated aim is to empower Somali girls with coding skills.

Sahra Abdikarim, an engineer and founder of Bilan Codes, told Reuters: "In Somalia, Somali women do not have the opportunity to join the technology (sector) and we want to create an opportunity to overcome the challenges they face in the technology (sector), and create skills to catch up with technology market."

According to a report from Intel in 2017, 25% fewer women than men are online in emerging countries, a figure that rises to 45% in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bilan says the gender gap is arguably wider in Somalia due to the damage caused to the Horn of Africa countries education infrastructure in decades of armed conflicts.

And the gender gap in ICT is not limited to emerging countries. Globally, according to World Economic Forum research from 2016, 30% of all male students graduate from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects compared to 16% of female students.

Among those at the workshop was student Amina Abdikarim. She said women face discrimination in the ICT sector, with people saying they are not coding or technology.

Difficulties with accessing information and finance

"The reason I joined Bilan Codes workshop is to create an advantage for myself and develop my skills," she sThe Mogadishu Tech Summit, attended by various government officials and featuring an exhibition and a pitching session, was organised by tech incubator iRise Hub.

iRise co-founder Abdihakin Ainte said the aim of the event was to give a platform for people with unique ideas, and said there are a lot of positives for Somali ICT.

"Somalia is one of the countries that has a nearly, almost $2.5bn industry within IC technology," he said. "So that's a very good positive, but also the universities and entrepreneurial spirit also is available and present across the country."

But, he added, young entrepreneurs, and particularly women, have difficulties with inclusion and with accessing information and finance, despite having the skills.

The Mogadishu Tech Summit ran from 23-25 October.

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