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Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO signs autographs for students during the launch of Technovation Challenge at Safaricom Headquarters, Nairobi.

Eleven high schools sign up for Safaricom technovation challenge

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Safaricom’s Women in Technology (WIT) initiative has partnered with Technovation – a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring women in technology and entrepreneurship – to launch the 2016 edition of the Technovation Challenge.

The women-led, innovation-based initiative is a 12-week app development and mentorship programme aimed at cultivating interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) studies, as well as igniting young girls’ interest in ICT careers.

Finalists will win tickets to present their ideas at a global event to be held in Silicon Valley, California, which aims to promote technology entrepreneurship.

“Mobile has the ability to transform lives in ways no other technology can. By giving young girls an incentive to apply themselves to the issues they face using technology, we hope to nurture the next generation of home-grown innovators,” said Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.

This year’s three-month program will see girls from 11 high schools work in teams of four to five to identify a challenge affecting a specific group of people. They will then be asked to develop a mobile-phone based application that offers a sustainable solution.

Since 2014, over 700 high school students in over 22 schools have participated in the program.

Finalists get the chance to travel to the US for the global finals, where the winner stands a chance to win $10,000 for further development and marketing of the app.

At Safaricom, the program is run by the company’s Women in Technology imitative, which seeks to boost the number of employed women working in technical positions. The program has managed to record significant milestones since its launch.

“Safaricom currently has more women in senior roles in technology (18percent) than the industry average across Africa (11percent)[i]. There are opportunities to extend those numbers as an industry by engaging more women to participate in the field,” said Collymore.

Last year’s winners, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Secondary School from Mombasa, made it to the semi-finals in the global competition held in Silicon Valley.

Their mobile application – Gold in Garbage – teaches users how to recycle garbage, make money from recycling and links users to bodies interested in recycling.

The Technovation Challenge is the only competition of its kind in Kenya, and is fully sponsored by Safaricom Women in Technology.

Globally, the Technovation Challenge aims to create awareness, education opportunities and provide inspiration to girls and young women in the pursuit of careers in the field of STEM.

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