“What started as a small idea in Rwanda is now a part of the Smart Africa agenda,” said Lucy Mbabazi, President of Girls in ICT Rwanda.
In the past week, 10 female contestants from across Africa competed in the final round for this year’s Miss Geek Africa title, an annual competition encouraging girls to address community challenges through technology.
The grand finale took place at the Smart Africa Women’s Summit, a specific session of the Transform Africa Summit (TAS) taking forward the Smart Africa Women and Girls Declaration, which aims to eliminate the digital gender divide.
This year’s competition was organised under TAS’s 2018 theme, “Accelerating Africa’s Single Digital Market.”
Applicants were asked to devise a solution that can allow Africans to better collaborate and interact, especially through trading in a single digital market.
“The idea is to make sure we equip the girls with skills they need to explain their projects and stand a chance of taking them to the next level.” – Esther Kunda, main organizer of Miss Geek Africa
One solution was brought forward by Christelle Mazimpaka, a 17-year-old student from Gashora Girls Academy of Science and Technology in Rwanda’s Bugesera District.
She is working on a platform that can link local investors to local ideas, a solution she believes would help address the issue of unemployment.
“There is a gradual increase in unemployment in Rwanda and across Africa. But we still produce the number of people who are smart enough to do jobs. With this technology platform, we can connect these great minds to investors,” she said during an interview.
Pitching innovative ideas
Beryl Nekesa, a semi-finalist from Kenya, wanted to use blockchain technology to address the issue of corruption.
Salissou Hassane Latifa, 21, of Niger, was crowned Miss Geek Africa 2018 and won a cash prize of 3 Million Rwandan francs, a laptop, and a smart phone. She designed an app called “First Responder”, which informs the community on first aid for accident victims before the ambulance arrives.
She will also attend the European Union Development Days (EDD) Conference where she will participate in a panel discussion to bring her ideas about technological innovation in Africa to Europe’s leading platform on development.
According to Gerald Otim, a mentor who worked with the girls in the training camp, all of them had brilliant ideas, and the facilitators only helped them to perfect the pitching.
Esther Kunda from Girls In ICT Rwanda, the main organizer of Miss Geek Africa, explained: “The idea is to make sure we equip the girls with skills they need to explain their projects and stand a chance of taking them to the next level. During training, the girls improve their public speaking skills and work with mentors to fine-tune their ideas.”
The competition is open to females between the ages of 13 and 25 who are citizens of Smart Africa member states.
This year’s competition received over 200 applications. 10 finalists from Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Senegal, as well as the host country Rwanda, were selected and received a week-long intensive training, which was designed to equip the trainees with presentation, public speaking, and critical-thinking skills.
The competition is in its second year running, alongside the annual TAS in Kigali, Rwanda, organized by the Smart Africa Secretariat.
Girls In ICT Rwanda is a group of female professionals in STEM and ICT fields, who have come together with the principal goal to inspire and mentor more Rwandan and African girls in those fields.