Yaounde, 19 July 2021 (ECA) – More than 70 innovative and solution-oriented projects in animation, web development, robotics, artificial intelligence and fashion design have been developed by various groups of girls and young women after just 10 days of mentorship at the UN-organised Connected African Girls’ Coding Camp which rounded-off Friday.
About 8500 young females aged between 12 and 25 from all over Africa attended the bootcamp both onsite in Buea, Douala and Yaounde in Cameroon, and online under the guardianship of experts from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and UNWOMEN, in collaboration with Cameroon’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.
The projects which are still being finetuned to be presented at an innovation fair during a date to be announced in Yaounde, offer practical solutions to a range of issues from health care to road traffic management within the context of Africa’s expanding and integrating economy.
A group called Iron Girls has developed a highly intelligent traffic lights system called Auto Feux to salvage the seemingly insurmountable go-slows on the high streets of major African cities. Their invention works by controlling motorists at major junctions based on traffic flow rather on the usual automatic count-down of the tricolour lighting system. This promises to decongest traffic hold-ups quicker and better. The system has a camera component which records the details of defaulters and transmits them in real time to a police dashboard.
A web platform styled My Comfy Doctor has been developed by a group known as WINNERS. The system allows for girls and women to anonymously consult doctors and freely discuss some of the painful health issues they face but cannot be properly catered for conventionally, due to social and gender discriminatory taboos.
“Our platform allows girls and women with particular health problems to fill out an online form and instantly receive a code number on their phone which they would use to anonymously process all aspects of their consultation with an equally faceless medical practitioner,” Ms. Nkeng Nacisse Estel explained.
She added that the project would not only empower women but equally empower young graduating doctors who could instantly subscribe to practice on the platform for reasonable amounts of remuneration, while still in search of regular jobs.
A 12-year old girl called Happi Tientcheu led a group baptised ‘DANGEROUS’ in developing an online animation platform called Girls’ Orientation System (GOS) to produce animated clips which unravel career possibilities especially in ICTs but which can also connect girls and young women to career development counsellors, early enough.
“Our application is personalised and free,” Ms Tientcheu said, as she played an animated story her group developed as a public service announcement inviting girls to use the platform for what she termed “orientation for a brighter future.”
To address the problem of missing water, electricity, internet and other utility bills sometimes blown away by the wind when affixed to end-users’ gates or window panes, a group has developed a Smart Mailbox. Once the service provider drops a bill in the box, the customer is immediately notified by SMS. The box stays alight until the mail is retrieved.
To better deal with fire outbreaks, another group has produced a three-stage rapid fire fighting system based on artificial intelligence. Once a fire breaks out a sensor detects it and sends an alert to a firefighting unit using a mobile app. The received alert automatically triggers first intervention by drones, even before human fire fighters get to the scene.
A group known as ROTECH has devised an affordable home-use electrocardiogram called “Energyce.” It uses a dynamo-powered battery to help heart patients do light exercise while monitoring their heart health and without depending on a grid-based energy supply system.
In fashion, a group of girls called GAVI is putting together a clothing trademark named “Stop” to help end skin bleaching in Africa, using the slogan “My Skin My Identity”.
Another group self-styled DYNAMIC GIRLS, has proposed a smart solution to street waste management. Their product known as “Keep Clean” is a public trash can with sensors which automatically flip open its lid, when approached by a human. As a user drops in their trash, the bin sorts it out into several compartments including one for plastic, another for glass and one for biodegradable waste. Once the intelligent bin is full, it automatically alerts a waste company for pick-up.
“The Coding Camp was not only about creating an IT geek in a girl but about moulding a girl leader who is confident, who contributes to her community and who has a voice to change her surroundings,” said a satisfied Sorene Assefa who coordinated the workshop.
“What we’ve seen from the Camp is a movement of young female leaders ready and passionate to change the destinies of their communities, countries and continent. They only need to be rightly chaperoned and provided with the enabling environment to flourish their projects,” echoed Antonio Pedro who heads the Central Africa Office of ECA.
“We have demonstrated to governments, the private sector and the academic community that building the rights skills for economic diversification especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is an urgent enterprise to commit to.
“In fact, with the digital and knowledge economies fine art has become equally important, hence the move to ‘STEAM’ – meaning Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
“This bootcamp has been a practical avenue to demonstrate that if Africa concentrates on developing STEAM and grants equal opportunities to men and women, the continent will become an economic giant in no time.”
Abel Akara Ticha - Communication Officer
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
637, rue 3.069, Quartier du Lac, Yaounde, Cameroon
Tel: +237 222504348