A Kenyan student emerged top from a major technology challenge scooping the top prize at the Transform Africa Summit in Rwanda.
Ruth Waiganjo, from the University of Nairobi beat 6 finalists at the maiden Miss Geek Africa 2017. Waiganjo and her competitors were selected from many innovators. These tech brains were recognised at the Smart Africa Women’s Summit, one of the highlevel sessions which took place at the 3-day Transform Africa Summit which ended.
Waiganjo invented the Safer Driver App which gives actual time and data on causes of an accident. The judges who reviewed her innovation called it a game changer.
A delighted Waiganjo stood at the podium to recieve her prize presented by the First Lady of Rwanda Mrs Jeannette Kagame. The award, among others includes Rwf3million. She has also been granted free travel to the ITU Telecom World 2017 in South Korea later this year.
Addressing the Summit, also attended by First Ladies from other countries, Mrs Kagame called for ICT to be adopted as a tool for “true gender empowerment and equality”.
“Together, let us stay the course for better ICT inclusion at all levels of our society, so members of our communities, regardless of age or gender, can fully benefit from the impact of these new technologies,” said the First Lady Mrs Kagame.
She added: “…path towards total elimination of the gender digital divide will only be made possible if we are able to learn from each other’s successful initiatives, while fostering ‘enabling environments’, characterised by a better access to, and affordability of technology; the development of our women’s digital skills – even for those with less formal education; and the promotion of women in the STEM fields.”
STEM stands Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The First Lady said Rwanda simply could not ignore the need for platforms that celebrate and encourage more women and girls in ICT.
“Rwanda’s relationship with ICT is fuelled by the necessity to innovate, create solutions and remain relevant,“ she said.
Speaking earlier, Zambia’s Vice President Inonge Wina told the session that the time for keeping girls away was history.
“Investing in girls is investing in future prosperities of our countries,” said Wina. “We need men that can challenge cultural norms and practices to ensure girls are not regulated to the sideline.”
Rwanda’s model of empowering women was in the spotlight, with UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka proposing a similar model to be applied everywhere in the world.
For instance, she said one of the models that attracted her is the ‘Buy from Women’ online platform.
On her arrival in the country, Mlambo-Ngcuka travelled to Gatsibo district in Eastern Rwanda, where she visited Coopcuma – a farmers’ cooperative to learn more about the innovative “Buy from Women” platform.
The platform is a mobile-enabled supply chain that connects women farmers to information, finance and markets.
Speaking at the summit today, she said such a data-driven platform is what every country should adopt to push women to the next level.
“Women need data-driven platforms like this…they need money to thrive, access to banking and others,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s Waiganjo struggled through tough competition from Rwandan girls – who dominated the challenge.
Leah Akimana and Delphine Micomyiza who had quite innovative tech Apps, were rewarded with Rwf2m and Rwf1 million respectively.
The two have also been granted free travel to ITU offices in Guinea Bissau. The first three winners also recieved laptops, modems and smartphones.
Miss Geek is a competition designed to inspire African girls to be part of solving the continent’s challenges using technology and encourage them to choose a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Since 2014, the competition rewarded best young girls innovators of ICT solutions in Rwanda and this year, Girls in ICT, the organizer has partnered with Smart Africa to expand the competition to all its 17 member states to crown the first ever Miss Geek Africa.
Rwanda alone has six nominees among 10 finalists with very innovative ICT solutions while other countries shared the remaining four places.
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