NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 25 – Kenyan IT pioneer Juliana Rotich has been awarded with the German Africa Award to Kenyan for her outstanding social and entrepreneurial commitment within the digital revolution in Africa.
The award, handed by the Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, Rotich was lauded for her “outstanding socio-political intuition and entrepreneurial skills.”
Juliana Rotich has been described as a role model for women, who, with their ideas, can drive the economic and social development not only of the African continent.
“Your success encourages many other women to show what and how much can be done with good ideas and determination – economically, socially, and beyond their own national borders. We need people like you, who have the courage to innovate and thereby inspire others”, said the Federal Chancellor.
As the co-founder of the open source Ushahidi platform, where users can post events such as human rights violations, corruption incidents or electoral fraud via SMS or e-mail in real-time and locate them on an online map, Juliana Rotich has managed to create a unique blend of social activism, citizen journalism and geo-information.
Today, Ushahidi is used in more than 160 countries for crisis response, election observation as well as claiming transparency and public accountability, reaching millions of people.
In the tech-company BRCK, which Rotich co-founded, she made a decisive contribution to the development of a battery- or solar-powered multi-link device that can run for up to eight hours without electricity – thus the so-called SupaBRCK also provides people in crisis or low-infrastructure environments with reliable Internet access and thus participation in the digital world.
With her latest project Scale, she and her team want to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to apply for tenders from the Kenyan government.
Here, 30 percent of tenders are reserved for youth, women and people with disabilities, but have not yet been fully exploited.
By increasing the procurement to qualified SMEs, Scale aims to not only contribute to the economic inclusion of marginalised groups, but in particular, to create urgently needed jobs in the private sector.
Rotich dedicated the award to Learning Lions, an ICT training company in Turkana, Kenya, that equips young adults in remote areas with ICT skills and encourages them to start digital businesses which enables them to earn a living in the place they live instead of moving to the big centres.
“The award is simultaneously motivation for and recognition of the vast talent of young Africans using technology to provide solutions to everyday challenges,” she said.
The German Africa Foundation, which is based in Berlin, honors outstanding personalities from the African continent who are particularly committed to sustainable development for democracy, peace, human rights, art and culture, the social market economy and social concerns with the German Africa Award.
The award is the most important of its kind in Germany and is traditionally handed over by a high-ranking representative of the German constitutional organs.