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Yapi Danila Christiana, the Ivorian committed to training young people in robotics

Through her NGO, Yadac Robotics, Yapi Danila Christiana trains Ivorian children and young people in robotics and science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). The young Ivorian, who is currently one of the few roboticists in her country, is determined to help revolutionise the education system in Côte d’Ivoire.

Passionate about mathematics from an early age, Yapi Danila, who is now one of the key figures in the field of robotics in Côte d’Ivoire, never learnt robotics at school in her country. It is through private training, her participation in national and international robotics competitions, self-training and thanks to her determination to learn that she was able to hone her skills in this field. Today, the young scientist passes on her knowledge to children and young people… to fill a gap in her country’s education system, she confides to Africa Women Experts. “Why are children no longer interested in education? Why is the school drop-out rate so high? Quite simply because children are no longer interested in what they are doing at school. Mathematics and physics are theoretical and don’t interest them. We need to find something practical to hook them,”she explains.

The NGO organized its first robotics training courses in 2023. These were aimed at children and adults alike… The workshops intended for children are designed from school programs, depending on the level of study of the children and broken down into practical projects to allow children to assimilate them more easily. “For a child who is unable to assimilate the electrical circuit taught at school, for example, we work on projects where we bring in electronic components and explain how it works through a project,”she explains. The training for very young children is based on everyday objects and toys (buggies, etc.) and aim to show them how these are designed and function. Above all, these courses aim to open up these young Ivorians to today’s new technologies: artificial intelligence, robotics, drone piloting, etc.

Above all, these courses aim to introduce young Ivorians to today’s new technologies: artificial intelligence, robotics, drone piloting, etc.

In fact, she has just completed the 2nd edition of her “Boost your skills” bootcamp, which brought together around forty participants over several days – schoolchildren, students, adults and professionals, including some teachers – and which has experienced real enthusiasm. Moreover, for the current year, the young Ivorian plans to launch a training dedicated exclusively to teachers. The goal is to equip them to teach these technologies in a practical way to their students. At the same time, it organizes webinars and training courses on topics related to robotics, STEAM and other areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, cyber security and robotics, energy efficiency, etc. To date, the initiative has benefited not only Ivorians, but many people across Africa and Europe. “I received messages from many people encouraging me and telling me that the programs I have initiated have inspired them to do the same”, she says proudly.

Robotics, a chance encounter

As a child, the young Ivorian used to fix all the damaged devices at home (broken telephones, appliances…). With a scientific baccalaureate in mathematics, she went on to university, where she discovered computer science and realized that it was the application of mathematics. After her DEUG, she decided to deepen her knowledge of IT through certification and worked as an intern in an IT company.

At the end of 2020, she took part in training in robotics, drone piloting, IT, photography and video editing. Although at first she only wanted to train in photography and video editing, she ended up exploring all the training modules. It was then that she discovered her passion for robotics. In 2021, she participated in the Robother competition in Côte d’Ivoire, organized by the US Embassy, and was voted “Robotics Laureate”. “From then until now, I’ve continued to train. It was from that moment on that I started to live“, she confides.

After this competition, she took part in a number of training courses where she honed her skills and also took part in STEM camps and conferences as a trainer. It was then that she was approached by one of her trainers, who invited her to join a training team. Thinking at first that she was coming to train herself, she discovered to her great surprise that she was the one who would be training this team to prepare it for national and international competitions. She joined the team in February 2022 and in June-July 2022 the team manager told her about First Global, an international robotics competition in which Côte d’Ivoire took part every year. She joined the team as a mentor (coach, trainer). In 2022, the team won the Excellence Prize in Geneva, Switzerland. The following year, in 2023, she accompanied again the team to the same competition in Singapore, where it won the Prize for Excellence, as well as the Social Media prize.

As well as being a trainer, the young Ivorian is also a drone pilot. She trains NGOs to pilot their drones.

Being a roboticist, a long river that is not always smooth

Although everything seems to have worked out for her, the road has not been paved with flowers. Working in a field with a high proportion of men, she remembers not often being taken seriously. During a robotics training course, for example, she remembers being scorned by a manager. “After playing down my skills, he started asking me lots of questions about technical terms. To his surprise, I was able to answer him with ease. It was then that he decided that he would attend my training course. At the end of the course in the afternoon, he gave me his business card himself”, she recalls.

For the young Ivorian, prejudices and stereotypes like these are something that women in STEAM encounter on a daily basis. One of the ways of overcoming them is to work harder, she believes. “We have to perform well so that those with fixed ideas realise that women are up to the task”,she confides. In addition to gender stereotypes, there is another challenge facing all robotics enthusiasts, namely the lack of schools dedicated to the field in Côte d’Ivoire, which makes it difficult to practise robotics in the country.

Determined to continue her education, Yapi Danila Christiana is now pursuing a degree in mathematics, while continuing to interest young Ivorians in STEAM for future careers in new technologies.


Danielle France Engolo