Rwanda's technology contest Ms Geek goes continental

31 March 2017

Computing

Designed to inspire Rwandan girls to be a part of problem solving for the country using technology, and pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Ms Geek Rwanda has been undoubtedly one of the country’s most successful initiatives in empowering the girl child in ICT to address societal problems through newly created applications.

The annual initiative has however risen beyond just being a Rwandan competition to the continental level.

This year, Girls in ICT Rwanda in partnership with Smart Africa secretariat expanded the competition to all its member states to crown the first ever Ms. Geek Africa.

Applications are currently ongoing in the transform Africa member states where the top 17 aged between 13 and 25 shall be selected by Girls in ICT and Smart Africa Secretariat.

The idea that stems from the Transform Africa Summit provides an opportunity for the girls to compete and collaborate with peers as well as participate in dialogues that influence Africa’s digital transformation.

The member states include: Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Gabon, Mali, Senegal, South Sudan, Benin, Djibouti, Egypt, Guinea, Niger and Togo.

According to the organizers, all 17 participants shall participate in a week long training and the top 5 shall compete on the final day for the Ms. Geek Africa 2017 title. As usual, finalists will undergo a week long intensive development program which will equip them with presentation, public speaking and critical thinking skills to ensure they are prepared for competition day.

As usual, finalists will undergo a week long intensive development program which will equip them with presentation, public speaking and critical thinking skills to ensure they are prepared for competition day.

Didier Nkurikiyimfura, the head of technology and innovation at Smart Africa Secretariat, notes the upcoming summit scheduled will be an opportunity to get the voice of women in ICT hubs and showcase what they are able to deliver in line with the topic ‘smart cities: fast forward’ where the winner will be acknowledged.

“For the first time we chose to involve our 17 member states in the Ms Geek competition because we believe in gender equality and that great ideas come from both genders. We have the specific effort to end the gender digital divide. We want to increase the participation of women in ICT,” he says.

The best solution from every country shall be selected to the top 17 by Girls in ICT and Smart Africa Secretariat. All 17 participants shall participate in a week long training and the top 5 shall compete on the final day for the Ms. Geek Africa 2017 title.

Girls in ICT Rwanda is a group of women professionals in STEM, who have come together to be role models for Rwandan girls and encourage them consider careers in STEM fields.

Since 2014, finalists have presented their ideas before a high level panel of judges. Last years’ finalists presented their ideas in the presence of The First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame.

Ms. Geek has given girls a platform to express themselves openly; they are given opportunities to step out of their comfort zone, and explore what STEM field has to offer with hope that they become role models for the younger generations.

Nancy Sibo, the first winner of Ms. Geek, is living her dream and attributes it to her participation in the contest. ‘Mobile Cow’ application that allows farmers to monitor the oestrus cycles in cows.

The competition brought her dream to life by enabling her develop her app and pursue her career. She currently boasts of over 1,000 farmers using her app.

For Rosine Mwineza, the Ms Geek 2016 winner, the competition has exposed her to people in agribusiness and has since joined MINAGRI’s Rwanda’s Youth in Agribusiness Forum.

Her project ‘Ivomerere’ is about having an abundant supply of food even in the dry season using less time and energy is underway as her team is developing a data base that will be helpful in the field.
Source: New Times 26 March 2017