Galway coders get ready for Africa Code Week

Irish group organises event involving thousands of students and 17 African countries

Galway coders are spearheading the first Africa Code Week, which will involve thousands of students in 17 African countries over the next week.

Up to 20,000 young people and trainers are taking part in the event, which is organised by Galway Education Centre, South Africa's Cape Town Science Centre and the King Baudouin Foundation, along with Galway-based multinational SAP.

Coding is described as “digital age literacy”.

The CoderDojo movement of coding clubs involves thousands of young people in Ireland and abroad.


Bernard Kirk, of the Galway Education Centre, said that the event grew out of EU Code Week, which began three years ago.

NUI Galway information technology expert Brendan Smith has recorded Scratch training sessions for the event.

These sessions are being used by volunteers with SAP to deliver coding programmes across Africa.

Using a “Train the Trainer” model, volunteers will be given free training sessions during the week, and will pledge in turn to teach coding to at least 10 children.

Mr Smith, who is involved with CoderDojo in Galway, is due to travel to Rwanda as part of the event, with two buses that have been fitted out and equipped as mobile classrooms in order to deliver Scratch coding programmes to pupils in rural areas.

Pilot programmes

Pilot programmes in Egypt and South Africa have already reached more than 3,500 pupils, and some 17 countries are now involved in the project, including Morocco, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Mr Kirk said that the response so far had been very positive, and the event would help to build up expertise and encourage much-needed investment in information technology.

The World Bank estimates that 11 million young people will enter the labour market on the African continent over the next decade, with digital jobs set to provide a very good income.

Africa Code Week runs from October 1st to 10th.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times