Africa, Tech and Girls: Ernestina A. Appiah The Ghana Code Club.

Africa, Tech and Girls: Ernestina A. Appiah The Ghana Code Club.

Tell us more about yourself and how you got into tech? 

My journey with Technology started many years ago in the era of chatrooms like the Hotmail and yahoo. There wasn’t this type of sophistication we have today like Facebook live, twitter and whatsapp.

I started working as a secretary in an IT firm in Accra and through the inspiration of one woman, I self-taught myself to become a web designer and soon with loads of practice, I chanced upon an opportunity as a virtual assistant; in 2004 I lead a team and we were working remotely from Ghana providing customer support services, web design, administrative and and other IT & technical services to partners and clients in the USA and other countries.

My first job in Tech was with a small telecommunication company who partnered me to provide customer service support to its agents across the globe. This was when I really learnt about how telecom systems work, The Company had a soft switch that uses a VPN customer management platform which enables people to generate PINS to use for long distance Calls. Our role here in Ghana was to recruit agents and train them, trouble shoot using this switch to Start Their Own Phone Company.

Now, Ghana Code Club, tell us more about it and how it started? 

Since 2007, I had been looking for an opportunity to start an advocacy program where I can empower girls, children and women about Tech but my  work load never permitted me to do this. I wanted to start empowering children and girls with IT because; it had changed my life completely. Like many other African Children, I came from a very humble home, where we hustle to make it through in education. All of a sudden because of some seriousness I applied into my passion in life at a point, I was able to break through, changed the lives of my dear siblings and many many other people around me helped a handful of startups and still standing. I feel so grateful to the internet Technology.

So in 2015 I was researching for junior computer programming platforms that can help my son who had turned 5 but already doing amazing things on the phone. As I kept browsing, I chanced upon software that some Code Club kids were using in the UK to make games, animations and interactive stories. I downloaded this Scratch and because I already have interest in creativity using Tech tools, I loved and after I learnt about it and was able to make a game I screamed YES! This was it, my long awaited NGO which is Healthy Career Initiative registered to inspire kids and women now have work to do. Ghana Code Club came out live from this.

Do you find that it is more difficult to encourage young people especially girls to explore the world of tech?

At this moment, yes, because a lot of these girls do not have access to the right devices at home and even in School, they have limited computers to access, but the few who have adequate facilities in their schools and homes love to explore naturally.

What are some of the challenges or stereotypes you have to debunk while running the initiative? 

Many parents do not understand that what we teach is different from the School’s Curriculum and so they do not encourage the children to join the coding clubs. Aside from that, we lack adequate facilities to enhance teaching and learning.

What does the Ghana Code Club look like in 20, 60 or even 100 years?

A Code Club in every School in Ghana.

 

 

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