#FRONTROW: African woman teaching Chinese how to code

Senegalese-born techpreneur’s initiative, I Am The Code, has become a global movement that’s been launched in Africa and Asia. PHOTO| FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • So when my friend Mariéme Jamme said she was going to launch her initiative, I Am The Code, in the country on August 26 and 27, I had to go and witness it for myself. It is not every day that you find an African woman teaching Chinese girls how to write software.
  • China has more than 70 million science and technology professionals, but only 39 per cent are female, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.
  • These pioneers will form the first coding club in Beijing in their schools and their spheres of influence. She has already launched the project in such diverse countries as Uganda, Argentina and Japan and has an audacious plan to teach one million girls and women to code by 2030.
  • She maintains a punishing travel schedule, balancing her consultancy work that pays the bills, speaking engagements, motherhood and the life-changing stuff she is doing.

The first time I visited China, it was on a carefully choreographed tour to a Nokia plant outside Beijing — one of several in the country at the time — for technology journalists. A lot has changed in the seven years since that first trip, and not just because Nokia’s business died a cruel death like a car crash in slow motion.


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