UDSM nurturing young talents in technology as 300 girls celebrate SmartGirlz in ICT

Mon, 20.May.2024 11.36

Zamda George, CMU

The College of Information and Communication Technologies (CoICT) has brought together over 300 girls from 16 schools across Dar es Salaam as it hosted the ‘SmartGirlz in ICT’ Exhibition and Commemoration Day recently.

The celebrations, which aimed at recognizing the innovative spirit and achievements of secondary school girls in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), was held at the UDSM Library Auditorium and participants showcased their innovative ideas developed during a nine-week training period.

Ms. Rosemary Panga, Deputy Director of Investment from the ICT Commission and Guest of Honour in her address, praised the participants for their creativity and urged them to continue pursuing their interests in ICT. She also emphasised the importance of women's representation in the technology sector.

UDSM Deputy Vice Chancellor-Research, Prof. Nelson Boniface, highlighted the University’s dedication to nurturing young talents in technology. “The SmartGirlz in ICT programme exemplifies our commitment to fostering innovation and inclusivity in the ICT sector”.

The SmartGirlz in ICT programme, now in its 5th Cohort, is a collaborative effort between UDSM-CoICT under UDICTi-Y4C (Youth for Children Innovation Hub), UNICEF, TCRA, ICT Commission, and dLab. The programme aims to encourage and build the capacities of young girls in ICT, empowering them to become leaders in STEM fields.

The event featured exhibitions and competition where teams presented their projects addressing challenges faced by women in STEM leadership. The theme for this year's competition was "Leadership," prompting students to devise solutions that help more women ascend to leadership positions in STEM by tackling issues such as limited role models, career advancement barriers, and exclusion from decision-making processes.

The top three winning teams, hailing from Kijitonyama, Mikocheni, and Feza Girls’ Secondary Schools, showcased remarkable innovations that caught the attention of attendees and judges alike.

Dr. Mercy Mbise, Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at CoICT, who represented Prof. Joel Mtebe, the Principal of CoICT, expressed her enthusiasm for the SmartGirlz in ICT programme's success and said that it continued “to inspire and empower young girls to pursue careers in ICT and become future leaders in the industry”.

Guest speakers at the event also included prominent figures such as Rosemary Panga, Deputy Director of Investment from ICT Commission; Gerda Binder, Director of Gender and Technology from UNICEF, and Irene Kahwili, Principal ICT Officer from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

Ms. Gerda Binder of UNICEF commended the initiative's focus on addressing gender disparities in STEM fields, noting that such programmes were crucial for achieving gender equality in technology-related careers. She emphasised the need for continued collaboration among stakeholders to ensure the programme's sustainability and impact on future generations of female technologists.

Ms. Irene Kahwili from TCRA praised the girls' resilience and urged them to explore diverse opportunities in ICT. She pledged TCRA’s support to the University in nurturing girls’ talents as “initiatives like SmartGirlz in ICT were very crucial in shaping a more inclusive and innovative future for the ICT industry in Tanzania”.