Kenyan girls who code: Mentors spur African tech innovations

14 October 2016

Digital Content

Kenyan schoolgirls are building apps to end ticket queues and transform organ donation, with the help of new mentor programmes promoting women in tech, writes the BBC's Anthony Irungu.

Sixteen-year old Harriet Karanja had been waiting a while in queue to buy a bus ticket in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, when someone else who was waiting was robbed.

When she retold her tale at school she found out her classmates had experienced the same problem.

What if, she asked, they could get rid of the queue for the tickets altogether?

She got together with four other school friends to make an app to buy a bus ticket, working with the support of a mentor as part of a scheme backed by Kenyan mobile phone company Safaricom.

They tested out a prototype version of the app on a long-distance bus across Kenya.

"The app takes you to the bus stop you prefer using GPS technology so you will only need to go to a bus stop to board a vehicle but not to wait for a vehicle."

They called it M-Safiri - which means "traveller" in Swahili.

Soon, the five young students were on the road themselves, travelling from Nairobi to San Francisco in the US to present their app at a global technology competition for schoolgirls.

The five, under the team name the Snipers, made it to the finals but missed out on the $10,000 (£8,000) top prize. Read the full article on the BBC website here:

Source: BBC Worldwide 3 October 2016