This is not a list of Uganda’s hottest mothers nor is it a list of Kampala’s most prolific party gals or video vixens. Of course the latter are the daily headlines and stories reported by the media especially the tabloids and these notions and misrepresentation of falsehoods on the African-Girl-Child drives me somewhat crazy and to see the same ill-conceived thoughts being endlessly regurgitated across the print media and even worse social media.
So it’s from this conjecture that I stand to present to you the outstanding female belligerent examples of the everyday anti-female-stereotypes. I know everyone on the list is at a risk of receiving unnecessary friend requests and male “stalkerazzi” but forgive this exposure this article is meant to redeem the African-girl-child-story. Well and also make sure they attract some well- intention fallacies.
They are in no particular order but all of them represent young women achieving in the distinguishable areas of science, engineering, technology and tech-journalism. These women are devoted to their craft that they will not even read this article. A fabric of young women of accomplishment that media shuns in favour of undeserving females. So allow me to take you through the journey of 10 most outstanding young women in the field of science, technology, engineering, (and) mathematics (STEM). These women are part of the journey to create a new benchmark for growth and innovation for this predominantly youthful knowledge.
1. Lynette Kebirungi
Having been on top of her class at Greenhill Academy and Taibah College School. In 2011 she went on to pursue a Foundation degree in Engineering at Liverpool International College and passed with a Distinction. This Foundation degree prerequisite opened the doors for her to pursue a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering Degree from the University of Liverpool that she finished early this year and now pursuing a Master of Science in Advanced Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London.
She has worked with the UPDF (Uganda People’s Defence Air force) as a Squadron engineer-Intern tasked with a role to defend Ugandan airspace against external aggression. She has also worked on a concept Personal Aerial Vehicle (Pendulair) meant to be used as a substitute mode of transport to facilitate movement from one place to another in the shortest time possible.
She’s has also worked on the design of an ILS Localiser Ground Antenna. A radio beam transmitter that provides a direction for approaching aircraft. She’s has also designed a Feedback Control System designed to improve response for plane elevator control.
Last but not least she’s worked on a 7 member team project on the design of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) – Airnergy. The UAS project with a requisite to give relief to remote areas around the world upon landing but with also equipped with ability to supply power to a remote community.
2. Doreen Orishaba
Having outranked her peers at Gayaza High School and expected to pursue Medicine at the University (of Course for obvious reasons) .Doreen decided to follow her passion of becoming the female Einstein and instead becoming a doctor of machines and wires a childhood passion and fascination of hers. She went on to pursue an Electrical Engineering from Makerere University.
Lady luck struck her pathway and she was empaneled to join the team at Centre for Research in Transportation Technologies (CRTT) at Makerere’s college of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) working on the Kayoola, an electric bus and pivoted to working on a 37-seater Kayoola Solar Bus that is to hit the road then and there cover 80km on full charge.
She leads efforts as a researcher at the Centre for Research in Transportation Technologies (CRTT) .And has been closely involved with the controlling the diagnostics system for the different vehicle electronic units of the bus. And currently at Kiira Motor Cooperation the makers of the Hybrid Kiira EV SMACK car.
Doreen Orishaba also mentored Secondary Students from SMACK that invented a robot that dismantles bombs while simulating the human senses of sight, touch and movement. She has also published research in Fibre Optic Communications and is Regional Associate representative of Africa at International Association of online-engineering.
3. Lynn Assimwe
After graduating on top of her class in, Mount St Marys College Namagunga. She got a Google – Zawadi scholarship to study Bachelors of Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the University of Cape Town South Africa and graduated in 2012.She’s also a candidate for an MPhil in Inclusive Innovation with the Graduate School of Business, Cape Town and a Bertha Foundation Scholar at UCT GSB offered to candidates committed to social innovation and entrepreneurship.
This electrical engineer turned Software engineer currently leads the software development efforts at Access Mobile. A Start up with key focus in the agriculture and healthcare industries, giving enterprises the ability to collect, analyse and share clear, real-time information about their operations and supply chain activity. Access Mobile 1 of 5 African start-ups’ that secured Microsoft 4Afrika innovation grants.
Lynn got a life time opportunity to work with Praekelt Consulting software team in Cape Town, South Africa and helped the company build a great data visualization software tool with advanced functionality like elastic search. She’s also interned at Ushahidi a non-profit, open-source software company that develops a Web platform that makes it easy for people in any part of the world to disseminate and collect information about a crisis. She has also done a great deal of personal projects like the defunct roadconexion app a software that was crowd sourcing traffic information in real-time .
She’s also involved in building an open-source software tool for mapping active Africa flight routes and also during her free time she runs weekly python/django classes at the Women in Technology (Witu) centre to support many a passionate developer to follow in her footsteps. Grapevine doing rounds is it she’s in final stage of her interviews at Google which is not a far-fetched rumour for Lynn paid a visit to Google offices in Zurich, Switzerland in 2011 during Google Europe, Middle East and Africa retreat. She’s also done technical interviews with Amazon, Google and Microsoft a stage in recruiting that’s an over-reach for any developer world over.
4. Emily Namugaanyi
With an outstanding academic track record at Makerere College School and Mengo Senior School. Emily just made 24 years of age on the 24th August and fresh from graduation with a Bachelor’s of Software Engineering Degree from Makerere University, Emily is a young achiever with a highly enchanting story that you need to read. Emily recrudesces the title of being the first female Uganda Application Developer hire at ThoughtWorks a renowned global software firm from Chicago and through ThouhtWorks induction attended ThoughtWorks University in India.
She also previously worked with Grameen Foundation as Software developer on development of mobile financial services software. Meanwhile in 2013 Emily and her fellow students then submitted for the Grass Hoper Conference on “Mobile Experiences for the differently-abled in Uganda” but sadly she could not make it to Texas because she was in India attending her graduate Thoughtworks orientation. She’s also worked as a Web Developer at Oran Agri Chain Ltd in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania .A vibrant agriculture value added Services Company for rural economies
She’s also worked on a Trade and Logistics Management software targeting the East Africa community to help sync the activities of exporters, importers and freight forwarders and their cargo from one designated point of arrival to the final destination. From the point of origin of the cargo to its final destination.
She also leads Women Initiative Mozilla (WoMoz) a software community, to introduce more women to a technology career.As team lead Emily has led efforts to create MozChat (You are not alone) software tool that helps developers to always find some to ask for help whenever they get stack while doing work from an online community and another E-womzilla software tool that that shows you how to develop a simple website in just a few seconds.
5. Viola Bazanye
Having excelled at an all-science combination at Gayaza High School. Viola is a just a recent graduate of Bachelor of Software Engineering from Makerere University but as worked at Microsoft as a Developer Platform Evangelist intern for Microsoft East & Southern Africa. This opportunity allowed her to acquire solid technical software engineering training for a period of 8 months from Microsoft. A beneficiary of Anita Borg Institute scholarship that enabled her attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing last year.
Versatility is Viola Bazanye’s second name. Viola is a jack (read Jackie) of all trades and master of all that she lays her hands on her work speak for its self. She’s also the most all round female mobile software developer with skills in Android, Java, J2ME, Windows Phone and Windows 8 platforms. She has written two windows phone apps ‘BudgetWise’ which was voted best Windows 8 app as the app helps to Keep track of your daily expenses and helps you plan wisely and efficiently. Another of her apps Fashionista tells you the latest in fashion for African girls, hairstyle and make-up tutorials! And lastly CinemaTalk an app that phosphoresces non-stop movie talk all available on the Windows store.
The whiz-girl has also written a Nokia application that helps you burn calories while exercising its available on the Nokia Ovistore and it’s called “Set & Go”. She has also been involved in WASH Reporter a crowd sourcing website on water and sanitation problems.
She has also had a billet opportunity with Orange Telecom as a result of winning the Orange innovation challenge with the Android Developer that helps suggest meals it’s called “The Diet Assistant” an app that recommends healthy affordable meals composed of locally relevant (and available) food. And that’s the story of young Viola Bazanye.
6. Pauline Korukundo
After excelling at science subjects at Kings College Budo. The 26 year old opted to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunications Engineering. Pauline is core member of the Kiira EV project and has been instrumental in building the Kiira EV and the Kiira EV-SMACK prototype that’s the EV (full Electric Vehicle), Internal Combustion Engine (normal fuel engine), and lastly the hybrid (combining both fuel and electric systems) all rooted at Makerere University’s College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (Cedat).
She’s been part of the team of two with Gerald Baguma that worked on the Kiira EV and Kiira EV-SMACK’s control system. She’s involved in engineering the real-time control and communication network system to serve and control the car environment while ensuring the safety of passengers and the driver.
She’s currently a researcher in the vehicle electronics and systems information Department at the Centre for Research in Transportation Technologies (CRTT). Pauline is also privileged to be part of the team working on a solar-powered bus-Kayoola Solar bus meant to be a 37-seater electric bus. And she’s in charge of vehicular systems development and embedded systems design for the bus.
She’s also worked as a student Developer at ARMS Project a premier Web Systems Engineering research and development initiative at the College of Engineering Design Art and Technology using Information Systems to tackle recurring challenges at Higher Education Institutions in Uganda.
7. Theresa Karungi “Terry”
Well the name Theresa doesn’t ring a bell too many including Terry herself (pun intended) But for this article we shall settle for Terry. Having excelled at her studies at Kings College Budo. Just Like Lynn Assimwe Terry is a beneficiary of the Google – Zawadi scholarship awarded to her to study Bachelors in Computer Engineering, from the Makerere and is set to graduate in January 2015. Terry was also awarded as the most innovative scholar in 2012 by Zawadi Education fund.
She is also part of the great founding team of Kola Studios a leading mobile game development studio in Africa that offers mobile versions of existing popular physical African games. She served as product lead and brocaded the company to raise over $ 30,000 (80 Million) in Angel Investment and was highly instrumental in leading Kola Studios to win the Pivot East 2013 in the Entertainment Category.
She also generated over 4 advertising sales leads worth over USD 35,000 (92 Million) in only 2013. And as well got nominated for the Mobile World Summit Award as finalists from East Africa. On top of helping Kola Studios add over 10 game titles to its list of game applications (Matatu ,Spar ,Last Card ,Zword, Twendele ,Tapt ,Karata , Last Card ,Mosquito Rush ,Keiko) with over 3,000,000 games played monthly. Enough of the Terry equation at Kola Studios.
Currently Outbox Uganda Initiative Director responsible for efforts targeted at teaching kids how to program computers. Meanwhile Terry was also recognized as one of the Top three youngest Ugandan women entrepreneurs of the year by Forbes Women and MTN Business.
8. Brenda Kembabazi
This 25 year old graduate of Social Sciences from Makerere University. And also the only social scientist featuring on this list. For many a Ugandan getting your face on television required you to either be an artist, politician or total nuisance (I mean like the drunkard of the “it’s a full full condition I saw vehicle coming coming …..”) But Urban TV entered the space with a game changing technology show that reports people’s innovations geared towards enhancing development. Having a technology show is not enough but the passion that the Brenda and Daniel Mumbere (of course Daniel is a straight male apologies for having him on your list girls) have exhibited on the show makes them Uganda’s best gift to technology television journalism actually in the league of technology show on BBC called “Click” .
The Urban-TV-dynamic-tech-duo are also synonymous and available on “video demand” for every single technology event and appear with unequalled professionalism. In short Brenda is to technology what Mary Luswata is to gossip besides the controversy from Mary Luswata (pun intended) . She’s so good at her craft and her show has single-handily exposed the works of every relevant local technology start-up, student’s innovation, enterprise software development companies, technology personalities.
Brenda has gone through occupational hazards of covering events regardless of the geographical proximity ranging from as far as Nairobi to cover PivotEast and as far Mbarara to cover student technology related activities at Mbarara University. As if the distance is not headache enough Brenda literary partitions part of her body on days that have a lot of tech events happening around town and covering all of them with grace even having to go back and forth between them to give the view a fair share of the technology cake. Sometimes she moves a distance that even Stephen Kiprotich can’t run and you clearly see the young lady dedicate her life on the job.
9. Christine Ampaire
After excelling at Ndejje High School and Maryhill and an early age interest in computers. Christine decided to pursue a Bachelor Degree in Software Engineering at Makerere (expected to graduate Jan 2015).Christine is currently a software Business Analyst at ThoughtWorks a global IT consultancy software firm headquartered in Chicago.
However Christine’s journey to “Geekdom” kick started at the prestigious Mobile Premier Awards during the Mobile World Congress where Chrisiane and her team (codesync) won Ring Master Award for the Mafuta Go a mobile app that helps its users find the nearest petrol station with the cheapest prices for Gas.
As team lead for Codesync which is arguably the most talented bunch of software developers in the country for a start-up (of course working with these guys means a headache). And have been responsible for the disruptive music website Myziki which is a music platform for selling exclusive African music. And the team is also responsible of a significant number of software projects which they are hired to do and also responsible for over 30 mobile applications in the different mobile apps stores.
Straight from winning the Youngest Uganda Woman entrepreneur of the year in March 2014 by Forbes Woman and MTN Business. She is also co- founder of Girl Geek Kampala whose mission is to infuse entrepreneurship and programming skills into girls passionate about IT.
10. Lynn Kirabo
The twenty-something year old Software Developer also a graduate of Information Technology from Makerere and currently pursuing Master of Science Information Technology at Carnegie Mellon University. A With experience at reputable companies (that I actually envy to the last dot). One of the few people (male and female) who have a not so common skill set on Uganda tech space. And that’s particularly User experience design and making interactive web and mobile experiences.
She has worked at The World Bank as a Consultant Web Developer and UX (User Experience) designer. And also founded Page’s Lab in 2012 which was one of the first Ugandan start-ups founded and solely run by a female developer and it was successful and out-sourced on a number of projects. She also served as Digital Media Manager at Hive Colab part of the pioneer staff members at the pioneer technology incubation hub in Kampala. This hub has been responsibility for a good number of technology start-ups and activities in Kampala.
She worked as a research intern at IBM Research Lab in Nairobi, Kenya – The first of it’s king in Africa. (IBM is a global technology and innovation company headquartered in Armonk, NY). Her designation at IBM allowed her to collaborate with other IBMers as they looked for innovative ways to tackle Africa’s grand challenges.
Her project iLocator an Online Interactive Map of Makerere University and surrounding areas was the Best ICT Project at the IEEE Engineering Exhibition 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya and she also came second runners up at National Infographics Competition organised by the National Institute Of Statistics Rwanda with a design of an Infographic to show Rwanda’s progress against the millennium Development Goals.