As the global race to bridge the digital divide between the North and the South is given impetus and incentive by the growth of southern economies, today this need is nowhere greater than in the emerging sub-Saharan markets. Seemingly trapped by illiteracy, overpopulation, breakdown in infrastructure, lack of access and soaring internet costs, the challenge to harness technology to aid Africa leap frog the divide seems even more daunting. Uganda serves as a microcosm for this African dilemma.
Another part of this complex conundrum is the fact that although women are substantially part of the business environment today, most of them know little or nothing about ICT and its potential to alter/or exponentially increase their access, use and leveraging of information technologies to help their businesses.
The Makerere University Faculty of Computing & IT (CIT) under its Community Outreach program has just finished training 150 women in basic ICT skills. The women are engaged in different business and entrepreneurship ventures but mostly consist of teachers.
The training included skills in use of Microsoft Word, Spreadsheets, Email, Introduction to computers and Power point Presentations.
CIT has done other trainings in the past for the Uganda Police Force, Uganda People's Defence Force, Makerere University Teaching and Non-teaching staff and will continue to train members of the public and private sectors as part of its commitment to increase ICT literacy in Uganda. Currently, 400 staff from Mulago Hospital is under ICT training at the faculty.
My big question is; Is it enough? Is it enough to train our women, and pump them with IT skills when they are still struggling under bad marriages and sexual harassment? As I ponder these thoughts what keeps coming to me is a phrase from a book I love deeply: Jane Eyre; where Rochester as he looks at the plain and yet deeply moving Jane says to himself and almost to God "It will atone." What will atone? The new life blood in this new young girl who he feels deeply about will atone for the trickery that led him to marry a woman with hereditary madness who he now keeps locked up in one of the rooms of his huge mansion. Can all those years of putting our women down be erased by giving them special treatment and advantages? I don't know anything for a fact but this I know: it will ATONE.