This blog post was written by Nnenna Nwakanma, A4AI’s Africa Regional Coordinator, who recently returned from a trip to Ghana.
This is Zongo in Accra, Ghana.
The most important entry you will find for it in Wikipedia is the one that informs you that it is “a slum”. The houses are hastily built, roofs are old and residences are neither spaced nor planned. If you see a “nice one standing”, it is a mosque.
But there is a love story nestled on the second floor of one of the hastily constructed houses. There is a mosque on the ground floor, but on top of that mosque, there is the “Achievers Book Club.” The club hosts young people from the community who make an effort to read books. Young people who want to “make a break” from the poverty, the ridicule and the challenges that come from living in a slum.
Something else is happening at the Club. Every Saturday, Regina Agyare runs the #TechNeedsGirls sessions. What does she do with these 30 or so girls? Technology! The young girls are learning about computers and computing, and have started trying their hands at some coding. I was surprised that some girls could actually express themselves in Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). So I talked briefly with the kids about HTML and asked if anybody wanted to send a message to the creator of HTML. The challenge was accepted.
The message was simple, written in HTML. In human language, English and Hausa were used. The title of the message is also simple: “Thank you, Tim.” The message, in Hausa, which is the dominant language spoken by the residents of Zongo, was also on point: “Thank you, Tim for creating HTML. God bless you abundantly.”
In our interactions, I found out that every girl wants to be something, something important. Someone useful. However the Zongo girls are worried because they cannot afford computers. They cannot afford Internet connectivity, and even electricity is becoming rare.
It is for girls in Zongo that the Web Foundation’s Alliance For Affordable Internet (A4AI) and stakeholders are working in Ghana to reduce the barriers to access. Empowering the Zongo girls is a task that needs our urgent attention. Tech needs girls and girls need tech. Both need affordable Internet.
Did you read the message to Tim Berners-Lee? Do you think he will respond? I think he should. And by the way, did you notice that there is an image attached to the message? It is a selfie… of the girls by the girls… and I took a photo while they were on it!
Happy Valentines! All the love from the #TechNeedsGirls of Zongo!
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