PEOPLE AND STORIES
28 December 2021
08 May 2023
Nickita Mukundwa wants to improve women´s access to the ICT-sector in Rwanda. Digital Skills Accelerator Africa e. V. (DSAA), a non-profit association of companies in the digital services sector supported by Invest for Jobs, changed her perspective for an IT-career.
Following Nickita Mukundwa, technology is mainly seen as a male domain in Rwanda and women are still underrepresented in the IT-field. The 26-year old is founder of a club called "Girls TakeOver" close to Kigali, where she teaches basic IT-skills mostly to female students. ‘There are some young girls that have this passion, but they don't know where to start from or they cannot afford good schools that are having programming options.’
Already in high school, Nickita knew that she is passionate about Information Technology: She took “Computer Science and Management”-classes at school to understand how a computer works but the course was only two hours a week and lacking sufficient equipment. ‘You could find five students on one computer, which made it really hard to find a computer to use,’ she remembers. Hence, she used her brother´s computer at home for exploring different programmes and learning things she did not learn at school. ‘Keep on working on what you want, eventually you are going to reach it,’ Nickitas parents used to say. They were supporting her dream of pursuing a career in the IT-sector and encouraged her to work for it. She therefore kept on exploring programmes, asking teachers for help, and consequently started studying "Information Systems” at the Akilah Institute in Kigali.
‘My parents told me: Keep on working on what you want, eventually you are going to reach it.’
Nickita is convinced of the massive opportunities digitalisation offers: ‘It's the whole future, because so many people are now working in the IT-sector, either directly or indirectly.’ At the same time, many Rwandans – especially women – lack basic digital skills and would not know, for instance, how to use online programmes that could help continuing to learn during the Covid-19-pandemic.
One of her main interests is programming, but this was only treated superficially in her bachelor's degree alongside other subjects such as networking, telecommunications and maintenance. ‘We had to study everything.’ However, she knew that programming requires continuous, daily learning, therefore she decided: ‘Whenever I get the opportunity of a training in programming, I'm going to jump in.’
In January 2021, she finally took part in a Digital Skills Accelerator Africa (DSAA) training at Zatec in Kigali. A company that puts a lot of emphasis on training and employing a high percentage of women. ‘When I saw that the program was having the purpose of empowering youth in terms of web development I was like: I think this is my time now.’ The DSAA is a registered association of companies in the digital services sector based in different African countries. Supported by Invest for Jobs, it offers young people in Africa job-relevant IT training programmes in accordance with international standards. The programme at Zatec in Rwanda is highly practice-oriented and prepares its students for the software-development market: During the three-month course, Nickita and her fellow trainees were not only learning soft skills but also how to create websites by using software such as Tailwind CSS.
When looking back, she evaluates: ‘Every day was unique and amazing on its own.’ However, it was also challenging as the trainees were taught many different programmes: ‘You don't just sit and things work. No, you have to keep on trying.’
For her, the DSAA-training is changing people´s lives and is having an impact on the community since students would spread their recent learned skills and inspire other people, like herself: With her club "Girls TakeOver" she not only empowers women but also wants society in general to benefit from it. ‘When you teach one woman, it means you are teaching the whole village, since we spread what we know.’ At the moment, her classes are run by former students that she has trained once while she is focussing on expanding her knowledge: Nickita recently received a full-scholarship and moved to Ireland to do a master in “Network and Information Security”. When she moves back to Rwanda she wants her club to expand and make people aware of protecting their online data and information. ‘My country needs me and when I go back, I will share with them what I got.’
More about DSAA
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