Dzaleka Camp gets first ever Microsoft AppFactory: Refugees infighting worry Malawi govt

Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa has become the first refugee camp in the world to have an AppFactory, a computer program that will help the youth within the camp to develop various computer programs, courtesy of Microsoft in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Officials pose in front of newly commissioned App factory- (C) Govati Nyirenda

Speaking during the official launch, Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Nicholas Dausi, said the program will help nurture innovations from youth living in the camp.

“This App factory will turn the youth from Dzaleka camp into technocrats in Information Communication Technology (ICT). My Ministry will provide the necessary support to this facility to ensure that it will be maximized to its full potential and that it is a success to the people of Dzaleka,” he said.

The minister asked Microsoft to take advantage of the enabling environment created by government through the recently passed pieces of legislation, namely the Communications Act and Electronic Transactions and Cyber Security Act to extend the app to other sectors.

Director of Strategic Partnership at Microsoft Kate Krukiel said the Microsoft AppFactory is part of Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative aimed at equipping young software developers with hands-on experience, while helping them build critical business skills to secure jobs or create their own jobs online.

“Skill development is critical to compete in the new age of digital transformation. Many of our youth today have brilliant ideas for solutions but do not have the access or resources to turn these ideas into reality,” she said

She said the connectivity project in Dzaleka will open new doors for many and help solidify talents that the youth at the camp have. She added that the youth will be able develop apps to do with Agriculture, fashion designing just to mention a few.

Krukiel said Microsoft believes that there are  many people in Africa with great idea for an app but simply don’t have development resources, therefore the Microsoft 4Africa IP hub intends to enable developers to develop their developing skills.

The academy 4Africa offers Africans access to a unique online learning experience free of charge, live courses streamed in real time, enabling participants to interact with industry experts from across the continent.

Meanwhile, Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia  has expressed concerns over the infighting among refugees that are living at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa.

“It has come to our attention that you guys are fighting each other within the camp. You must remember that you came here from your respective countries looking for peace so you should not disturb peace in the camp or anywhere in the country. Anyone found disturbing the peace will face the law,” said Chiumia.

The minister said government is working hand in hand with the United Nations for High Commissioner for Refugees to safeguard the welfares of all refugees in the country.

Camp Manager for Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Patricia Sinoya, said her office together with the police will be alert to uproot the main cause of the infighting.

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