This month, Akilah was awarded the Women Enhancing Technology (WeTech) Seed Fund Grant. Chosen from a pool of 300 applicants from 33 countries throughout Africa, Akilah is among 18 other grant recipients taking impressive steps to engage women and girls in computer science. The grant will support Akilah’s new Information Systems (IS) diploma program in Rwanda, as well as the use of technology across our academic curriculum at both our Rwanda and Burundi campuses.
Akilah’s emphasis on technology is designed to address the significant gender gap in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector, in which women occupy only 19.8% of positions in Rwanda. Launched in 2013, Akilah’s IS diploma program connects young women to opportunities in the technology sector through courses in software engineering, e-commerce, systems analysis, and programming. Not only will the program deliver qualified professionals, but it will also increase women’s voices in the ICT sector, thus bridging the gender divide in programming-related fields.
Akilah is proud to join the WeTech community, a consortium of dedicated partners led by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The consortium helps women and girls enter and succeed in technology careers by supporting programs that develop the talent and skills needed to fuel technological and economic growth. Through its Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives, IIE also provides opportunities for women worldwide to participate in cutting‐edge training, professional development, and exchange programs, and to pursue higher education.
In collaboration with lead partner Google, WeTech seeks to retain more girls in computer science through partnerships with NGOs, corporations, associations, and individuals. With Google’s generous support, WeTech has awarded a total of 35 grants of $2,000 to $20,000 this year. Since its launch in 2013, WeTech has engaged 26 companies, 115 mentors, 36 schools, and 3,400 girls in 13 countries. By building a strong network, WeTech will increase access for women and girls to computer science-related training, jobs, and leadership roles in Africa.
There is enormous opportunity for economic growth in Africa. Technology companies are investing at a rate that creates more jobs than there are qualified candidates to fill them. Ironically, women are severely underrepresented in the ICT sector, where demand for skills outpaces supply. Training and encouraging more women to enter this field is not only a matter of gender balance but of economic necessity. As we work to address the gender gap in technology, Akilah is excited to join like-minded organizations and individual champions within the WeSeed consortium that are equally committed to this effort.