FEATURE: Ugandan female youths design digital platform to provide opportunities for peers

President Museveni presided over the launch of new STEM and innovation centre in Kiruhura ( PHOTO/Courtesy).

President Museveni presided over the launch of new STEM and innovation centre in Kiruhura ( PHOTO/Courtesy).

KAMPALA —The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. Within this domain, digital entrepreneurship has the potential to be an effective means of integrating African women into the digital economy.

Natasha Katondwaki, 24, with her colleague Collins Mbulakyalo, designed Waape, a technology start-up platform that has so far created a pool of 3,000 talented youths, 60 percent of whom are females.

The Ugandan youths use the platform to carry out software development and digital marketing, among others.

Three years ago, Katondwaki and Mbulakyalo developed the idea of creating a digital platform on which talented Ugandans would showcase their digital skills in a bid to get meaningful opportunities both locally and internationally.

“The pandemic (COVID-19) made us think harder. We have managed to get more than 200 placements from our pool of talent in Uganda, Africa, and Europe,” Katondwaki told Xinhua in a recent interview.

She said they are now targeting to penetrate the Chinese market once they get partnerships there.

“We have attended workshops where Chinese people have displayed some quite advanced technology. We are ready to tap into their space when the right time comes.”

Katondwaki is optimistic that the platform creates opportunities in a country with high unemployment, especially among the youth.

Figures by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that youth unemployment stands at about 70 percent, and about 400,000 youths are released annually into the job market to compete for approximately 10,000 available jobs.

The computer science graduate said they realized that so many youths were equipped with digital skills, yet the job opportunities were not forthcoming.

“We are hoping that this platform will be a solution for people who have digital skills but have no access to equal opportunities.

“Minister of Gender, Labor and Social Development Betty Amongi told reporters ahead of International Women’s Day that the government has designed a new strategy that will ensure that more girls are involved in science and technology in a bid to promote innovation in the digital era.

The minister said the government is implementing measures aimed at bridging the gender divide and ensuring that the rural population, including women and girls, access the internet cheaply.

She said females remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects.

“Bringing women, girls and other disadvantaged groups on board results in more creative solutions, and has great potential for solutions and innovations that meet their needs and interests, therefore promoting gender equality.”


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