Accra, Aug. 23, GNA - The fifteen-year
old girl stood animatedly with a huge pair of robotic headsets around her head
and in her tiny hands, she held what looked like two virtual reality gear
sticks; ready for battle.
The giant virtual reality screen behind her, came to life and she jumped into action, shooting at unseen figures across the room and for a moment in her mind, she was saving humanity.
The seventh floor of Vodafone Ghana's headquarters at Airport was packed to capacity.
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications, was seated attentively looking on while, by her side was Mrs Patricia Obo-Nai, the Chief Executive of Vodafone Ghana.
Kicking, screaming, shooting, ducking and jumping, the young warrior was visibly shaken and behind her, the crowd could see, on a screen, what she was aiming her shots at.
There were lots of laughter in the room and everybody seemed to be enjoying him or herself.
It was Wednesday, August 21, 2019, and Vodafone Ghana was giving digital tour for 60 girls from the Western Region's ‘Girls-In-ICT initiative’ group.
Mrs Ekuful, an advocate of the initiative, had also taken time off to be part of the event.
To make this happen, a team at Vodafone, with support from the Chief Executive and Mr Srabasti Bhattacharjee, the Technology Director of Vodafone Ghana, had put a sophisticated programme together with brief sessions in 3D printing, VR technology, Robotics, Coding and Machine learning to give the girls a glimpse into the future.
On the first floor, staff volunteers Manuella and Alfred were busily piecing wires and other components together to create mini robots. The young girls, fascinated, hung on their every word and move. A whole new world was opening up before their eyes.
Soon the Minister and Chief Executive joined them. A white imposing humanoid robot, stationed at the entrance said hello to the Minister.
“How are you?” Mrs Ekuful replied.
“Oh that is interesting," said the robot.
“What is interesting?” Mrs Ekuful shot back.
Pockets of laughter could be heard all around.
Mrs Obo-Nai’s passion for women in technology has never been in doubt. Even before becoming Chief Executive, she had been instrumental in setting up the ‘Women in ICT’ group at Vodafone.
She was also the brain behind the Female Engineering Students Sponsorship Programme (FESSP), while the company's Diversity and Inclusion programme has her as a key sponsor.
"What is terrific about Vodafone is that, we recognise the ability of young women to change their eco-system through the power of technology," she said to welcome the girls.
The Girls in ICT programme seems to have taken off on a good note with the full backing of government, through the Communications Ministry.
Already, 60 brilliant girls are being empowered to take up studies and eventual careers in ICT to bridge the gap between male and female participation in this field. It is a known fact that there are greater benefits to be reaped by Ghana if a good number of girls take up the challenge.
"These are some of the things we are supporting in order to change attitudes towards ICT in Ghana. I am happy to say that coding, for example, will be introduced in the mainstream syllabi for the next academic year," Mrs Ekuful said.
Over the years, Vodafone has been instrumental in initiatives that drive digitalisation and women inclusion. Through its Foundation, the company is already making waves across the country with its Nationwide Coding programme and digital education platform – ‘Instant Schools’.
The coding project is to empower 10,000 youth within five years with basic coding skills whilst the Instant Schools platform had already recorded close to five million hits on the site.
"As a very progressive company, we view technology as our stock-in-trade. Our brand promise – “The Future is Exciting. Ready?” represents what we mean by giving our customers and the community, confidence and optimism," Mr Srabasti said.