Hands-down, my favorite part of Camp TechKobwa is listening to the girls present their research projects. Both years, throughout the week, I watch a rather rapid metamorphosis take place. Many girls, who upon arrival barely audibly spoke and when they did it was at their shoes, transform into confident young women discussing major world problems, and more importantly, their ideas for solutions. I could not be prouder of them.
Every group’s presentation was very good and many were outstanding.
I wish I could remember all the project ideas but some of their ideas were:
- Creating an anti-malarial soap and using the internet to advertise it as well as conduct analytical models to improve the formula.
- Creating a bio-informatics chip that could detect when someone was bitten by a mosquito, assessing if the mosquito carried malaria and notifying the person and their doctor.
- Creating a mobile phone app so that a person could touch their finger to the screen and receive almost instantaneous results for a malaria test. Similarly, a notification could go to their healthcare provider and civil authorities for tracking.
- Increasing tourism by inserting Rwanda tourism ads when various search word combinations were used.
- Using sensors and analytics to understand the most critical places to prevent soil erosion and suggest optimal tree and vegetation planting configurations.
- Using the internet to create a website with planting information and using SMS messages to remind farmers of the most effective techniques for soil erosion prevention, and doing this associated with various cultivation activities.
- Use analytics to determine the best high yield crops for various parts of Rwanda, identify various planting requirements and share information more expediently between regions by using the internet.
- Consolidate and improve online booking for hotels and tourist activities.
- Introduce robots to assist in customer care where there is a shortage of skilled workers.
- Introduce cameras with analytics to identify key sections of roads requiring improvements. Provide travel time estimations via a website and mobile application. Use analytics to determine optimal highway placement and road construction.
- Create a machine to measure rainfall and trigger an alarm when the rainfall level reaches a critical point for causing soil erosion. The machine can then begin to work at suggesting anti-soil erosion steps that should be taken.
- Introduce location based services for promoting tourism to mobile phone users based upon their location within Rwanda, suggesting nearby attractions that might be of interest.
- Introduce mobile money, online payments and visa card payments for safe money transfer of school fees from parents to the educational institution.
- Use the internet to build a clearinghouse site for scholarships to help fund school fees.
- Create a solar-powered radio and mobile phones that can be recharged by water to increase ICT access.
- Have more camps like TechKobwa to increase access to ICT. (A personal favorite, but "no", I did not plant the idea.)
Not only did the girls have many great ideas, they enthusiastically expressed them and handled questions with grace and confidence. Furthermore, many fellow campers asked tough questions – another sign of self-confidence. Of particular note is the fact that the girls presented, asked questions and fielded questions in English versus their native Kinyarwanda.
I am excited that such confident innovative leaders are emerging to help us tackle some of the world’s grand challenges.
I wish I had pictures of all the groups giving their presentations but here are a few: