Akilah recently hosted our first event dedicated to exploring the intersection of education and technology in Rwanda.
The transformation from an agricultural to a knowledge-based economy by 2020 means that Rwanda will need to add 200,000 non-farm jobs per year. There is enormous opportunity for Akilah graduates to fill the skills gap, particularly for women, who make up over half of Rwanda’s working class but occupy less than 20% of today’s ICT workforce.
Tech@Akilah featured a keynote from Clement Uwajeneza, CEO of Axis LTD, and brought together some of Rwanda’s most well-known “techpreneurs” for a wide-ranging discussion of how to effectively prepare graduates for a future in which information and communication technology (ICT) drives economic transformation across the continent.
Rwanda’s government is heavily invested in building ICT infrastructure, and yet a recent survey by the Private Sector Federation found that less that 1% of Rwandan businesses were sufficiently leveraging technology to keep up with market demand. And it’s not only a question of training more programmers, but preparing computer scientists and analysts with the tools to think critically, manage teams, and communicate effectively with clients and staff.
Indeed, many Tech@Akilah attendees stressed that the education of a programmer should focus not only on writing code, but on developing a clear and concise thought process for approaching a business problem and arriving at a solution.
Akilah’s new Information Systems major is a programming-oriented diploma with an entrepreneurial approach aimed at addressing exactly this challenge. Students will be encouraged to identify difficulties in their communities and society, propose solutions, and address them using technology.
To ensure that the academic program meets real-world needs, Akilah’s Information Systems Program Manager, Jessie Gakwandi, has spent the last few months collecting feedback from private sector experts. Tech@Akilah is part of Jessie’s market research to identify the most critical skills for job applicants in ICT, understand what soft skills are missing from that equation, and determine the course offering that will graduate tomorrow’s most qualified ICT professionals. The event also served to strengthen relationships with the broader ICT community in Rwanda, a very important step in ensuring future internship and job placement for Akilah’s Information Systems students.