Ikram Babs-Lawal is a 12-year old frontend developer, who started learning how to code one year ago.
She won her first laptop at the 2019 MTN mPulse Kiddies Hackathon as a finalist. And she had since participated in other hackathons including NaijaHacks. She has also been selected to be a mentee in this year's She Code Africa mentoring programme.
Ikram (AKA Code_Quinn) is steadily growing in the Nigerian tech ecosystem. On Twitter, she is followed by ecosystem advocators and builders such as Prosper "unicodeveloper" Otemuyiwa and Edidiong "Didicodes" Asikpo.
Woohoooooo, thank you so much pic.twitter.com/SOUf8hDLpO— The Techie Girl (@Code_Quinn) September 16, 2020
Ikram is Rubies Technologies Kid of the Month. During her chat with Rubies, Ikram said, "Curiosity led me into coding". Here is the full interview:
What is your name?
My name is Ikram Babs-Lawal
How old are you?
I am 12 years old.
At what age did you start coding?
I started coding at the age of 11.
How many programming languages do you know?
How did you start coding?
Curiosity brought me into coding. I actually like all these applications and websites. I love how beautiful they are, especially those ones that are with animations and fine colours. I was wondering how they made them and wanted to know the behind-the-scene of the applications and websites.
I found different site online where they said you can make application without coding. So I used their [no coding] application to make a gallery app, but I kept seeing codes. So I asked what is this codes and then I got into the tech world. My brother helped me in starting my programming career.
What other skills do you have?
I know how to use Photoshop and I can draw.
How many projects have you done?
I have worked on about 20-30 projects
How has the tech community supported you?
I have gained a lot from the developers community. They share resources I can learn from with me. Anytime I have problem in topics I don’t understand in a programming language, I go to the dev community and ask for help. Everyone is ready to help me.
The tech community has also helped me on how to use Google anytime I have problem so I won’t be running to them all the time. They help me with hackathon and how to improve my skills; they help me with tutorials and advice.
What challenges are you facing as a kid in the tech industry?
I really don't face any challenge in the tech industry. The only challenge I face is that some opportunities are not for people less than 18 years old. If you are not up to 18, you won’t be able to get some opportunities.
Sometimes, I will like to test my skills on real life event [or problems], maybe for companies. But they will want you to be 18. Also, some internship will not accept you because you are less than 18.
How do manage school with your programming sessions?
They don’t clash. During weekdays I don’t code that much. Even if I want to code, I do it within an hour or two. But during weekends, I have all the day to learn everything I want to learn before starting school.
Did your parents support you when you started?
They gave me their optimum support. My parents play a huge role in my career. They support me with data subscription, motivation and care.
How did you get your first computer?
I started coding using my sister’s laptop. But in 2019, I went to MTN kids hackathon and out of almost 700 participants, I was one of the 15 finalists. They gave us laptops.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself in greater places. I see myself as one of the best kids in technology with greater skills. And with that skills, I will be able to work on myself and save the world so that kids can do great things. It is not only 18-year-olds that can do better thing.
I will tell kids that they should not lose hope or downgrade themselves despite being less than 18. I will encourage them that they can learn new things and they should follow their passion.
What advice do you have for kids that want to become developers?
I will tell them that not every opportunity is meant for you. But always look for knowledge, explore many things, not just where you are.
Also, learn that Google is your best friend. Know how to use Google tools. There is 95% chance that if you have an error in your code, you will find the solution on Google. Always ask for help when you have error. Have the curiosity in you to know more. And the most important thing, you should always ask for help.
This interview was first published by Rubies Technologies as part of its kid of the month series. Rubies Technologies is a social enterprise focused on equipping every African child with digital skills.