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'Rise Above The Stereotypes That Tech Is For Men'

Says Emmanuel Boakye Ababio, the Activation Manager at ALX. More from him about women, technology and what the future holds.

BY Beryl Karimi

Apr 13, 2023, 11:05 AM

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AlX Africa team

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ALX is a leading technology training provider, built to accelerate the careers of young Africans by providing technological and professional skills that allow them to thrive in the digital economy and today’s world. 

We caught up with Emmanuel Boakye Ababio, the Activation Manager at ALX to talk about tech opportunities and the future of Africa. 

Q: Tell me about your company. What do you do?

Ababio: We are a part of the African Leadership Group ecosystem, an organization with over 15 years of experience selecting, developing, and connecting young Africans to global opportunities. If you’ve heard about African Leadership Academy, African Leadership University, and The Room, you know us.

Q: What is the motivation behind that?

Ababio: According to sources like McKinsey, World Economic Forum, and The World Bank, globally, over 50 million people will be needed to fill new technology roles in the next decade. Interestingly, while other countries have an ageing population, Africa’s youth have an average age of 19, making them the future of tech.

Q: Why is Africa's young population a change-maker in the field of Tech?

Ababio: With a growing population and highly youthful workforce, our biggest resource in the future will be our human capital. Not gold or whatever because we see how mineral reserves are depleting. 

Due to its low median age, Africa has the opportunity to be like Cuba which gives the world its doctors. We can do the same with tech talent. It’s something that young people thrive in because of the creative imagination it requires.

Q: Where is Africa in terms of realizing that dream and what role will tech play in helping it come true? 

Ababio: While Africa has a youthful population and heads towards a future where we will contribute to about 40% of the world population by 2035, out of the 26 million software engineers in the world, only 700K come from Africa. 

So there’s a shortage of tech talent from Africa. And if we are looking to put our young people into meaningful and dignified jobs in this global economy, tech is the way.

Q: What can explain the shortage of tech talent in Africa?

Ababio: These world-class programs that teach tech are expensive and should cost you between 7, 000 and 14, 000 dollars to enroll in. Not many families can even afford that. 

85% of Africans live on less than 5 dollars a day. So this shows you how much finances are a major setback for Africans that want to get into tech.

Other than cost, there’s also a bit of education needed. Most African parents still live in the old era where law, medicine, and engineering are the respectable professions their kids need to get into. This makes it hard for them to even pursue tech careers.

Q: How is ALX helping Africa's youth get into tech with all the financial inequalities that are in play?


Ababio: By partnering with world-class curriculum providers or trainers partners such as Explore AI, Salesforce, and Holberton to offer globally recognized programs to African youth at no cost.

We can do this because the Mastercard Foundation offers sponsored placement to young Africans eligible for our programs and make it through our selection process.

By bringing together all these world-class training providers, and limiting our programs to young people i.e. those between 18-34, we are directly empowering these young people with the skills and network to become relevant and be able to compete on the global stage.

Q: What does a young person need to become part of ALX?

Ababio: This year we are running 4 new programs.

CRM in collaboration with Salesforce, Cloud Practitioner in partnership with Amazon Web Services, Data Science and Data Analytics in collaboration with Explore AI

For these programs, interested young people need to be based in one of our 8 hubs: Accra, Lagos, Cairo, Kigali, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Casablanca, and Addis Ababa.

They should be between 18-34, be available to meet in person twice a week in our hubs in the cities I mentioned and have a laptop and access to stable internet.

Software engineering, however, is fully remote, and learners based in any part of the program can take it.

Q: Data shows that we are disproportionately represented in tech. What is the place of women in ALX?

Ababio: In support of International Women's Day and Women's Month, we are running a women-only cohort this whole month.

We know that 85% of software engineers are men and only 15% are women which is very disturbing. So we are committing our resources to at least contribute to bridging these gaps.

Q: What is your advice to young African women who are looking to get into tech?

Ababio: First of all, they need to rise above the stereotypes that tech is a male thing and believe that they can actually do it and even excel at it.

Also, tech has different aspects which aren’t necessarily coding-related. If they are for instance visual artists, they can pivot to spaces like UI/UX design. Those that are great at talking or public speaking can make tech sales. There is a whole ecosystem out there they can explore.

Finally, they should stop postponing and just start. The journey is rough in the beginning but it gets better.

The next generation of women's African tech talent depends on them today so they need to rise to the occasion and take the mantle of being pacesetters.

Q: Where can young people find ALX?

Ababio: They can visit our socials and just look for ALX Africa.

Alternatively, they can visit our website

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