Digital Cooperation Organization completes inaugural Rwanda Visit and launches Global Roundtable Series

A delegation from the Digital Cooperation Organization concluded the organization’s inaugural visit to Rwanda by announcing the DCO Global Roundtable Series, an initiative that will bring together global digital economy leaders to develop an action plan for digital prosperity for all.

During her participation at the World Telecommunications Development Conference, DCO Secretary-General Ms. Deemah AlYahya announced the DCO’s pledge to hold the DCO Global Roundtable Series across five continents, with the first edition of the series commencing on the African continent in Kigali. The event included more than thirty-five government, international organization and private sector leaders, discussing challenges to emerging market growth, and best-practice collaboration between governments, the private sector and civil society.

Ms Deemah AlYahya commenced the inaugural roundtable event by stating:

“Talking about digital economy issues is no longer something new. We must develop action plans and a roadmap to create an impact for people, and this is indeed what the DCO is doing. We are bringing together people who share the same responsibility, to translate their vision into on the ground change that advances the development of the digital economy of their countries.”

The inaugural Roundtable began with a discussion between Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT, who hosted the DCO delegation. She commented:

“I am delighted to welcome the DCO to Kigali this week, and to share with them our pioneering achievements in the digital economy and ICT sector more generally. Since joining the DCO six months ago, Rwanda has played a pivotal role in the organization and we look forward to our continued membership of the wider DCO ecosystem as we shape a future in which all members of society can harness the power of the digital economy.”

Along the side lines of WTDC, the DCO also met with HE Usula Owusu, Minister of Communications in Ghana, where AlYahya and Minister Owusu discussed Ghana’s inspiring perspective on digital prosperity for all. Secretary-General AlYahya also met with the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies of South Africa, Khumbudzo Ntshaveheni, where they discussed their mutual efforts in enabling digital prosperity for all.

While in Rwanda, the DCO also met with Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, as well as hosting entrepreneurs across the Rwandan ecosystem at Norrsken House. The DCO further met with the Bank of Kigali, kLab Rwanda, and Rwanda’s Information Society Authority. Secretary-General Deemah AlYahya also delivered an address to the Carnegie Mellon University Africa, the African Leadership University and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences.  

Secretary-General Deemah AlYahya also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with SmartAfrica, the alliance representing more than 30 African countries on their journey towards digital socioeconomic development and which is chaired by the President of Rwanda Mr. Paul Kagame. The agreement reaffirms the two organization’s shared commitment to promoting digital prosperity in their respective member states.

www.minict.gov.rw

www.dco.org

MTN Rwanda and Ericsson drive leading connectivity solutions for Rwanda’s progress

MTN Rwandacell (MTN Rwanda) Chief Executive Officer Mitwa Ng’ambi met with Ericsson’s Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Strategy, Erik Ekudden, on the side lines of the annual Broadband Commission meeting where they discussed their long-term partnership. Over the years, this partnership has seen the establishment of various services and products within MTN Rwanda and Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd closing the digital divide and propelling financial inclusion.

MTN has been working with Ericsson on enhancing consumer experience through Ericsson’s Managed Services Solutions. One of these services includes MTN’s modernized Network Operating Centre (NOC) that has been implemented to manage end-to-end monitoring of MTN network. Through the NOC, MTN Rwanda’s Network Operations Center and the Incidents Management tools are automated, improving network operations efficiency and boosting customer experience.

Mitwa Ng’ambi, MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer stated “Ericsson has been a close and prominent partner over the last two decades in Rwanda.  Their services have enabled us to pivot from product to platform, aligning seamlessly with our overarching strategy to provide the largest and most valuable platforms by delivering on 100% network coverage, and bridging the digital and financial gaps currently present. We look forward to achieving these ambitious targets for the betterment of our customers and stakeholders because we believe that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life.”

In addition to telecommunication services, Ericsson has enabled Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd with a platform for digital financial services such as Basic services (P2P, Cashin, Cashout & Airtime Purchase) and Advanced payments (MoMoPay, OpenAPI), Loans & Savings, Bill Payments and Remittances.

Erik Ekudden, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Strategy, said “We are proud of the relationship we’ve built with MTN Rwanda and the opportunities we’ve had to be part of the nation’s social and economic progress. We’ve collaborated on a number of initiatives that ranged from network modernization to enhancing consumer experience. We remain ever committed to continue working together on exploring solutions that increase social and financial inclusion here in Rwanda. Together, we can accelerate the nation’s digital transformation journey.”

This mutually beneficial partnership continues to steer MTN Rwanda’s digital transformational journey by providing innovative technologies and ecosystems that also consist of socioeconomic development for the communities we serve.

www.ericsson.com 

www.mtn.co.rw 

Ericsson Innovation Awards 2022 invites university students to tackle sustainability challenges

Ericsson is inviting university students the world over to propose innovative technology solutions to help tackle sustainable development challenges. Impact Our Sustainable Future is the theme of the Ericsson Innovation Awards (EIA) 2022 challenge, with more than EUR 50,000 in prizes up for grabs.

Heather Johnson, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson, says: “There are less than 10 years until the conclusion of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and it will take a collective effort from all sectors of society to achieve them. Ericsson is a champion of the role technology and innovation can play in scaling sustainable development efforts.

She adds: “University students around the world are among the most passionate and determined advocates of the need for action to meet global sustainability challenges. That’s why we’ve chosen sustainability as the focus of this year’s Ericsson Innovation Awards to help catalyze action.”

Participating university teams are asked to take inspiration from the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to identify a sustainability challenge to tackle with a technology solution that can make a lasting change.

Interested teams of two-to-four students currently enrolled in university studies should submit team names and ideas by 13.00 (CEST), August 5, 2022.

As an extra incentive, the first seven submissions per region as of 13.00 (CEST), June 16, 2022, will have the opportunity to access extra support and feedback from Ericsson mentors.

Johnson adds: “Imagination is the only limit to the range of ideas that can be submitted. From past Ericson Innovation Awards’ experiences, we know that university student talent is exceptional in proposing and developing creative solutions.”

Prizes

Overall winner: EUR 25,000
As a Nobel International partner, Ericsson will also offer the winning team the opportunity to join a virtual conversation with a Nobel Prize laureate.

Overall runner-up: EUR 15,000
Overall third place: EUR 5,000

Social Media Prize: EUR 2,000
The three finalists’ ideas will be uploaded to @inside_ericsson Instagram. A public vote – in the last 24 hours before the Grand Finale – will determine which team who wins the EUR 2,000. 

Regional winners
Each of the seven regional winners will receive EUR 1,000.

In some cases, additional special recognition and prizes will be offered from the respective region.

The 14 semi-finalists, including the regional winners, will receive eight weeks of comprehensive mentorship from Ericsson experts in innovation and business, as well as recognition on Ericsson’s social and digital media channels.

Further details, including registration information, is available on the Ericsson Innovation Awards site.

www.ericsson.com

Google announces 30,000 scholarships under African developer scheme

Opportunities for software developers in Africa are at an all time high, according to the 2021 Africa Developer Report by Google and Accenture, opportunities for software developers in Africa are at an all time high, driven primarily by the booming startup ecosystem and the global demand for remote work. Local businesses are also contributing to this demand as they seek to hire more developers to help them build a better online presence.

The report also looked at ways that technology companies can accelerate access to these opportunities through education and training programs that improve on job readiness. At Google we have been supporting developers in Africa through community and training programs for over 10 years. Today, there are more than 180 active developer communities in 30 countries across Africa. These local developer communities provide developers with the opportunity to connect, learn and grow together. The research report showed that nearly 1 in every 2 developers in Africa has been through a Google developer training or community program.

Mampho and Christopher are two software developers based in Johannesburg and Lagos respectively who have graduated from the Google Africa Developer Scholarship program. They both heard about the opportunity online and decided to apply for the Google Cloud learning track. After completing the training, they went a step further and took the Associate Cloud Engineer certification. This has enabled them to be more productive at work, and opened up a world of new opportunities for them. To quote Mampho, “The GADS program empowered me, and showed me that I could be a world class developer”

Google is announcing an additional 30,000 Android and Google Cloud​​training opportunities for aspiring and professional developers in Africa. «We are pleased to be partnering with Andela and Pluralsight on this program for the 5th year in a row, continuing our commitment to Africa’s developer ecosystem.» Developers selected for the program will gain access to carefully curated training content and hands-on learning experiences. They will also access a pan-African network of peer learning groups and community mentors who will guide them on the learning journey.

Follow this link to apply for the scholarship.

africa.googleblog.com

Google Translate learns 24 new languages

For years, Google Translate has helped break down language barriers and connect communities all over the world. And we want to make this possible for even more people — especially those whose languages aren’t represented in most technology. So today we’ve added 24 languages to Translate, now supporting a total of 133 used around the globe.

Over 300 million people speak these newly added languages — like Mizo, used by around 800,000 people in the far northeast of India, and Lingala, used by over 45 million people across Central Africa. As part of this update, Indigenous languages of the Americas (Quechua, Guarani and Aymara) and an English dialect (Sierra Leonean Krio) have also been added to Translate for the first time.

Here’s a complete list of the new languages now available in Google Translate:

  • Assamese, used by about 25 million people in Northeast India
  • Aymara, used by about two million people in Bolivia, Chile and Peru
  • Bambara, used by about 14 million people in Mali
  • Bhojpuri, used by about 50 million people in northern India, Nepal and Fiji
  • Dhivehi, used by about 300,000 people in the Maldives
  • Dogri, used by about three million people in northern India
  • Ewe, used by about seven million people in Ghana and Togo
  • Guarani, used by about seven million people in Paraguay and Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil
  • Ilocano, used by about 10 million people in northern Philippines
  • Konkani, used by about two million people in Central India
  • Krio, used by about four million people in Sierra Leone
  • Kurdish (Sorani), used by about 15 million people in Iraq and Iran
  • Lingala, used by about 45 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Angola and the Republic of South Sudan
  • Luganda, used by about 20 million people in Uganda and Rwanda
  • Maithili, used by about 34 million people in northern India
  • Meiteilon (Manipuri), used by about two million people in Northeast India
  • Mizo, used by about 830,000 people in Northeast India
  • Oromo, used by about 37 million people in Ethiopia and Kenya
  • Quechua, used by about 10 million people in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and surrounding countries
  • Sanskrit, used by about 20,000 people in India
  • Sepedi, used by about 14 million people in South Africa
  • Tigrinya, used by about eight million people in Eritrea and Ethiopia
  • Tsonga, used by about seven million people in Eswatini, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe
  • Twi, used by about 11 million people in Ghana

This is also a technical milestone for Google Translate. These are the first languages we’ve added using Zero-Shot Machine Translation, where a machine learning model only sees monolingual text — meaning, it learns to translate into another language without ever seeing an example. While this technology is impressive, it isn’t perfect. And we’ll keep improving these models to deliver the same experience you’re used to with a Spanish or German translation, for example. If you want to dig into the technical details, check out our Google AI blog post and research paper.

We’re grateful to the many native speakers, professors and linguists who worked with us on this latest update and kept us inspired with their passion and enthusiasm. If you want to help us support your language in a future update, contribute evaluations or translations through Translate Contribute.

blog.google

Market creating-innovation bootcamp opportunity for Rwandans

We’re excited to announce that the session of the Market-Creating Innovation Bootcamp from The Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship at MIT, the Clayton Christensen Institute, and Ventures Platform is happening in Rwanda on 2022 June 27, 28 & 29.

The Market-Creating Innovation (MCI) Bootcamp is an eight-session learning program designed to empower innovators with principles and frameworks necessary to create new markets that make products affordable. The MCI Bootcamp is best suited for early-stage entrepreneurs with an operating business. The Bootcamp curriculum will be taught over a three-day period. Following the Bootcamp training, participants will join a network of market-creating innovators across Africa and have access to customized learning sessions with experts and entrepreneurs.

Application Deadline: May 16, 2022

Boot-camp: J2022 June 27, 28, 29

Bootcamp Participant Eligibility Criteria / Target Audience:
 Early-stage entrepreneur with established business or idea
 Willingness and eagerness to learn
 At an early enough stage in their venture where they can apply the lessons to their business model (seed stage)
 Founder or top management team member. We encourage Founders to apply and participate.
 Venture is operating in Rwanda, candidate can be Rwandan citizen or resident
 Ability to participate in sessions over 3 days
 Fluency in English

 If you have questions, please contact the MCI Bootcamp team at  mci.bootcamp.help@minict.gov.rw

CLICK HERE TO APPLY

www.minict.gov.rw

[Rwanda] SADA kicks off with launch of first National digital academy

Smart Africa’s capacity building arm, The Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) in partnership with Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation have launched a national digital academy in the country, marking the official kick off of in-country implementation of the initiative. The agreement is contained within a MOU signed today between the Smart Africa Alliance and the Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT. This follows the continental launch of SADA that took place in the Republic of Congo last month.

A pan-African dynamic learning ecosystem, SADA aims to improve digital skills qualifications, employability, and meet the emerging talent needs of African citizens. The national digital academy will support the uniquely identified digital skills priority needs at the national level. Furthermore, such national digital academies will soon be rolled out in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Tunisia.

In 2021 ahead of this official launch, SADA implemented capacity building activities in Rwanda where more than 500 security forces were trained under SADA’s ICT Skills & Capacity Building Spectrum. 461 command students and staff in Gako as well as 71 Senior Officials in Nyakinama were enrolled and successfully completed a training in Digital Literacy which covered modules such as Computer and online essentials, online elaboration and cyber security.

As part of next steps, Smart Africa and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation will continue to engage with the key stakeholders to implement the identified initiatives under the SADA Rwanda framework.
Planned initiatives include training and certification of Government technicians in advanced computing, training of teachers and Agri entrepreneurs as well as regulators, with the support of partners such as GIZ, World Bank, Intel, HPE.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Lacina Koné, the Director General and CEO of Smart Africa said: “Rwanda is one of the pioneers of digital adoption and has been doing an amazing job in improving digital skills for its citizens. We are pleased to contribute positively to the nation capacity building through the launch of SADA in Rwanda.”

“Digital skills are the cornerstone of the digital transformation that we seek to attain. Our partners recognize that as proven by their vital support to this important initiative,” he added.

Hon. Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation who graced the launch thanked Smart Africa and said “We welcome this transformative partnership with Smart Africa and we are delighted to be among the seven countries where this programme was piloted. Rwanda is keen to develop digital skills across the entire spectrum and we hope to leverage this programme to equip our citizens with digital skills in different sectors to increase their participation in the digital economy.”

Since its start of operation in August 2020, focusing on the Capacity Building for Decision Makers (CBDM) module, SADA has trained over 2,000 policy and decision-makers across 26 countries in trending digital transformation topics including Artificial Intelligence Use Cases, 5G Connectivity, Data Protection & Privacy, Rural Broadband Policies, Security Technologies, Regulatory and Innovative Sandboxing Environments, Data Centers and Cloud, Digital Identity for Underserved, ePayment, etc. The objective is to reach over 22,000 trained beneficiaries by 2023, supported by the SADA In-country implementation wave.

www.minict.gov.rw

Google and Tony Elumelu Foundation support 1 mln more African entrepreneurs

Google and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) have announced an inaugural Google.org Fellowship to provide 1 million more people in Africa with access to TEFConnect, as part of TEF’s mission to support young entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries. Nine full-time Google employees, including software engineers, UI/UX researchers and policy experts, will work with the Foundation to upgrade the TEFConnect platform.

TEFConnect already provides over 1 million African entrepreneurs with tools, market partnerships, and access to coaches and investors for small businesses. The fellowship builds upon an initial USD 3 million grant by Google.org to support the 2021 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme to enable 500 African women to start or expand their businesses. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a USD 100 million initiative that has supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a philanthropy venture to support African entrepreneurs, catalyse economic growth, eradicate poverty and create jobs.

TEF has disbursed over USD 85 million in seed capital to date to support small business growth across Africa.

With African entrepreneurs raising more than $4 billion in funding in 2021, more than double the $1.5 billion raised in 2020, it’s clear investors around the globe are waking up to the continent’s potential. For some, like philanthropist Tony Elumelu, this growth is the validation of a long track record of backing African entrepreneurship.

Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), he has helped empower African entrepreneurs from across the continent. To date, TEF has distributed more than $85 million in grants for seed capital, and supported more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries through its proprietary digital platform, TEFConnect.net. Google is similarly enthusiastic about African startups and has supported them with funding, mentorship and skills development, among other things. That’s what makes it so exciting that TEF and Google’s paths are once again converging in 2022.

Last year, Google.org committed $3 million to the TEF to support an additional 500 female entrepreneurs across the continent. To further support the effort, this year, nine Google employees from Africa and Europe will devote six months of their time and expertise to TEF as part of the first Google.org Fellowship in Sub-Saharan Africa. Composed of engineers, user experience (UX) specialists and business and marketing managers, these Googlers will work with TEF full-time, pro bono, to build a new TEFConnect platform, equipped with new tools to help entrepreneurs access the resources they need to succeed.

We hope to support TEF in reaching one million more African entrepreneurs through the new TEFConnect, expected to launch later this year. The improved, more mobile-friendly TEFConnect platform will give those entrepreneurs access to a catalog of more curated educational resources, and more avenues for funding.

Additionally, as the world kicks off a month of celebration for International Women’s Day, Google.org and The Tony Elumelu Foundation want to mark the occasion. As part of these collective celebrations, we will convene policymakers, private sector and entrepreneurs to engage in a discussion about entrepreneurship on the continent. We will hear from female entrepreneurs who have benefited from the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s support, as well as from notable leaders.

As the year 2022 progresses, we want to play a larger role in supporting the world’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Africa’s citizenry is youthful, optimistic and enterprising. There is so much to be gained by leveling the digital playing field and creating possibilities that will raise the ceiling for the continent’s population.

By bringing together people from the private and public sector and supporting entrepreneurs in areas that will make the most difference, we can go a long way to helping Africa’s entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

www.tonyelumelufoundation.org

www.blog.google

Microsoft announces international digital camp for girls in science

As part of the events planned for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8, Microsoft will host a three-day international digital camp targeting girls in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The initiative, which is entirely virtual, provides an opportunity to connect with girls from Africa and North America for two-hour workshops scheduled to take place between March 7th and 10th.

The Microsoft International DigiGirlz Camp is organized in collaboration with Fair Chance Learning and is designed to give middle and high school girls hands-on experience with technology, workshops to help them bring their ideas to life, and opportunities for cross-cultural collaboration and networking. The program targets girls aged between 11 and 17. 

Young women can learn about the various opportunities available in the high-tech industry, gain hands-on experience, and learn from peers and other women already in the field by participating in the Microsoft DigiGirlz Day. The theme for this year’s camp, is lifelong learning.

“The youth who grasp today’s tech will change tomorrow’s world. Right now, women lack a clear pathway to technological experience and resources. At Microsoft DigiGirlz, we’re helping girls across the globe—and especially those in under-represented communities—learn the skills they need to realize their passions in a tech-filled future,” said Wanjira Kamwere, Microsoft Africa Technology Office’s Business Development Manager, when announcing the program. 

Student registrations are accepted for enrolment on a first come, first served basis. Event content and curriculum may be geared for specific age groups, so applicants are encouraged to check the target audience before enrolling a student in a DigiGirlz program. 

The DigiGirlz registration form must be completed by an adult aged 18 or older. The parent or legal guardian of attendees under the age of 18 may complete the registration form to register the student for a DigiGirlz program.

“The camp is open to girls of all skill levels. It provides hands-on workshops that are led by supportive instructors who can help you increase your abilities. For girls who may have already taken technology classes in school, the camp workshops will provide you with quick exposure to new technologies to help enhance your knowledge,” added Wanjira.

Wanjira Kamwere explained that DigiGirlz events are designed to provide a gender specific approach to introducing girls to career opportunities in technology in a safe setting that is attuned to addressing specific biases and challenges that might impact their experience. However, event participation is open to anyone, regardless of gender identity, who is aligned to our mission to provide an environment that encourages girls’ participation in technology.

Research has shown a sharp drop-off in women who initially study STEM subjects. Women leave STEM disciplines in disproportionate numbers during their studies, during the transition to the workplace and even during their careers. Mentorship programs such as the DigiGirlz can help encourage women to pursue these careers. 

www.microsoft.com

AfricaTech awards to spotlight the next generation of african innovators

Viva Technology and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced a call for applications for the first edition of the AfricaTech Awards, a pan-African initiative developed to recognize and support the most innovative and impactful tech start-ups across the continent.


Entrepreneurship has been a key driver of economic growth in Africa, promoting competitiveness and fostering job creation, particularly among young people. According to reports from Briter Bridges, investment in African tech start-ups reached $4.9 billion in 2021, marking a significant increase from the $2.4 billion invested in 2020. Despite growing interest from investors, this is still a fraction compared to the funding that start-ups received in other parts of the world – for instance, in 2021, over $100 billion was invested in European start-ups and about $330 billion in start-ups in North America. Moreover, a lack of infrastructure and inadequate regulations often present additional challenges to the scale-up of start-ups across Africa.
 
“Africa is buzzing with innovative tech solutions that can help address climate change, promote food security, and expand financial inclusion,” said Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director. “Yet over 80% of African start-ups report difficulties in accessing funding. Initiatives like the AfricaTech Awards, which bring together entrepreneurs, governments, and investors, are key to attracting the resources and support that tech start-ups need to scale their innovations across the continent and beyond.”
 
The AfricaTech Awards will recognize African start-ups that are driving innovation and development impact in three main sectors – climate tech, health tech, and fintech. Participating startups will have until March 25, 2022 to submit their applications. In May, with support from Viva Technology and IFC, a panel of industry experts from our knowledge partner Deloitte will pre-select the top 45 applicants. The final winners in each category will be announced during the 2022 edition of Viva Technology, taking place on June 15-18 in Paris and online.
 
Each of the three category winners will benefit from increased visibility and access to the networks provided by Viva Technology and IFC, including select one-on-one meetings with leaders and top executives in the tech industry.
 
For Viva Technology Co-Presidents Maurice Lévy and Pierre Louette and Managing Director Julie Ranty: “We have been impressed by the quality of African innovations during our various on-site roadshows and in our meetings with the 1000+ African startups that have already taken part in VivaTech. With the AfricaTech Awards, our objective is to boost visibility for African innovation ecosystems and to create opportunities for African entrepreneurs within global markets.”

www.ifc.org