Sheila Achiena and Nelly Beizu are happy in Kibera, the biggest slum in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. They have just learned to code. The girls want to study information technology and find work in the field. They also want to show their families that girls can master computers just as boys.
CodeBus Africa is a Finland 100 project where students of the Aalto University were teaching coding skills to young people in Africa. The aim was to encourage especially girls to learn information technology, since the field is traditionally dominated by men. More than half of the 1,800 students and the 62 African teachers were women.
In 2017 the CodeBus toured ten African countries for one hundred days and organised 145 coding workshops for 13–20-year-old Africans. It was a collaboration of 15 technology and innovation centres, universities and civil society organisations from Africa as well as Aalto Global Impact, the Finnish Foreign Ministry and missions in Africa and the Finnish start-ups Mehackit and Nokia. Most of the project funding came from the private sector.
Lessons of the CodeBus will be put to good use even in the future. Collaboration with the African partners will continue, and the African coding teachers will continue their work.
Photo: Juho Paavola, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta