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Ms Geek Africa shines spotlight on tech genius

After years of women in evening gowns vying for the title of national beauty queen, glamour is giving way to geekery in Rwanda.

A group of female tech entrepreneurs decided it was time to ditch Miss Rwanda for a different kind of competition, one that judged women on brilliance rather than beauty.

It was time for Ms Geek. The first Ms Geek Rwanda was crowned in 2014, and the competition has since expanded to include other African countries under the unifying banner of Ms Geek Africa.

The event, open to girls and women aged 13 to 25, encourages contestants to use technology to solve everyday problems in their communities. The finalists receive business training and the winner is awarded financial backing to help realise her idea. 

This year’s Ms Geek Africa is Salissou Hassane Latifa, 21, from Niger. Her winning design is an app that helps communication between people caring for accident victims and the emergency services, and allows medical staff to advise on basic first aid before they arrive at the scene.

“Ms Geek has already changed the perception of what girls can do,” says Esther Kunda of the Next Einstein Forum, a founding member of competition organiser Girls in ICT Rwanda.

The contest was set up as part of a nationwide effort to transform Rwanda from a small agricultural economy into an engine of technological innovation, with women and girls at the forefront of the revolution.

– The Guardian

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