Tag: Kigali

World Economic Forum Names Top 5 African Female Innovators

Three of WEF's top five African women innovators (photo via VenturesAfrica.com)
Three of WEF’s top five African women innovators (photo via VenturesAfrica.com)

article by Fumnanya Agbugah via VenturesAfrica.com

On Friday, the World Economic Forum on Africa presented the five winners of the conference’s challenge to find Africa’s top women innovators. The winners, whose innovations were from the areas including mobile health insurance, solar powered vending carts, bio medical materials and IT training as well as food processing, hail from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

Currently, Africa has the youngest population in the world and this is expected to double by 2045. In view of this, several global leaders have attested to the fact that Africa’s future lies in the hands of its youthful population. The region’s start-up businesses are gaining confidence and scale with a growing number of innovations achieving recognition beyond the region’s borders. However, a lot still has to be done in order to create an enabling environment that will allow women to flourish. Due to this set back, the World Economic Forum decided to run this competition to find Africa’s top female innovators especially as the potential of women entrepreneurs is far from optimum.

“I strongly believe that the 21st century will be Africa’s century, that its young population has the potential to build a world where they are not only materially better off, but also where things are fairer, more sustainable and more tolerant than at any other time in history. But this will not be achieved unless women are able to make a full contribution. This is why we are showcasing Africa’s best female entrepreneurs in Kigali this week,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum.

Here are Africa’s top female innovators, selected based on the criteria for the WEF Africa challenge. This required entrant companies to be less than three years old, be earning revenue for at least a year and have proven innovation and positive social impact.

Natalie Bitature – Musana Carts, Kampala, Uganda

Natalie Bitature - Musana Carts, Kampala, Uganda

Musana Carts has used frugal innovation to develop environmentally friendly, solar-powered vending carts. With a price point of $400, each Musana Cart saves 3,000 tons of carbon emissions and improves the health of cities by eliminating pollution from charcoal and kerosene stoves.

Audrey Cheng – Moringa School, Nairobi, Kenya


Audrey Cheng established Moringa School to enable an entire generation gain the skills they need to compete in the digital economy. Two years on, graduates work in the top tech companies in the region, earning, on average, 350 percent more than before they completed the course.

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Justus Uwayesu, Who Lived in a Rwandan Dump after Being Orphaned by Genocide, Earns Full Scholarship at Harvard

Justus Uwayesu, rescued at 9 from the streets of Rwanda, is enrolled as a freshman at Harvard. (IAN THOMAS JANSEN-LONNQUIST FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)

BOSTON — Nine years old and orphaned by ethnic genocide, he was living in a burned-out car in a Rwandan garbage dump where he scavenged for food and clothes. Daytimes, he was a street beggar. He had not bathed in more than a year.When an American charity worker, Clare Effiong, visited the dump one Sunday, other children scattered. Filthy and hungry, Justus Uwayesu stayed put, and she asked him why.

“I want to go to school,” he replied.

Well, he got his wish.

This autumn, Mr. Uwayesu enrolled as a freshman at Harvard University on a full-scholarship, studying math, economics and human rights, and aiming for an advanced science degree. Now about 22 — his birthday is unknown — he could be, in jeans, a sweater and sneakers, just another of the 1,667 first-year students here.
Continue reading “Justus Uwayesu, Who Lived in a Rwandan Dump after Being Orphaned by Genocide, Earns Full Scholarship at Harvard”

Rwanda Makes Great Progress in Economic Growth, Life Expectancy 20 Years After Genocide

A young woman stands in a "reconciliation village" in Mybo, Rwanda. In these villages, many who killed their neighbors in the 1994 genocide now live side by side with relatives of the dead. (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images / April 6, 2014)
A young woman stands in a “reconciliation village” in Mybo, Rwanda. In these villages, many who killed their neighbors in the 1994 genocide now live side by side with relatives of the dead. (Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images / April 6, 2014)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — In scattered villages on steep green hillsides, many who killed their neighbors in Rwanda’s genocide 20 years ago now live side by side with relatives of the dead.

Speech that creates ethnic divisions has been outlawed. Local tribunals called gacaca courts have allowed many offenders to be released from prison in return for confessions and expressions of remorse. And a generation of young people who grew up after the mass killings embody the hope of a new breed of Rwandans who identify not by ethnicity but by nationality.

Rwanda has made stunning progress since what was one of the 20th century’s greatest tragedies, when more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu extremists. Life expectancy has doubled since 1994 to more than 60 years. Economic growth consistently reaches 8% annually. And the number of deaths of children under age 5 has plummeted in the last two decades from 230 per 1,000 to 55.

In the years since the hundred days of bloodletting, in which as many as a million people were killed, the small Central African country has wowed donors and investors, though lately human rights advocates have criticized President Paul Kagame for displaying an increasingly authoritarian approach.

Kagame says that improved education and an end to poverty are the most effective ways to prevent a return of violence. The government spends a quarter of its budget on health and 17% on education, according to the World Bank.  The positive news out of Rwanda stands in sharp contrast to the results of the West’s vows that “never again” would the world stand by as the massacres that occurred in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s unfolded.

In 2002, the Rome statute was established, setting up the International Criminal Court to prosecute individuals on charges including genocide and crimes against humanity. And in 2005, a summit of world leaders adopted the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect,” which obliged the international community to step in when civilians are under attack and their governments fail to protect them.

But unfolding tragedies underscore United Nations failures to protect vulnerable populations when wars break out.  In the Central African Republic, sectarian killings of Muslims have been taking place for months and a proposed U.N. force substantial enough to halt the slaughter has yet to be deployed, even as most of the Muslim population is driven out of the country and its mosques burned.

Elsewhere in Africa, international intervention has shown mixed success. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, to which the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide fled, U.N. peacekeepers have been criticized for failing to prevent attacks on civilians by armed groups, although last November — with a new mandate to use force — they helped Congolese army forces defeat the Rwandan-backed rebel group M23. In South Sudan, U.N. peacekeepers failed to prevent an estimated 10,000 ethnic killings last December, although the death toll may have been worse without the U.N. presence.

The Rwandan genocide was set off April 7, 1994, when a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, both Hutus, was shot down near the Kigali airport. The source of the attack is disputed, with Kagame’s government saying that Hutu extremists in Habyarimana’s military assassinated him as an excuse to exterminate Tutsis.

Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front had invaded northern Rwanda in 1990 from Uganda in a bid to oust the Habyarimana government, but after nearly three years of civil war, a peace deal known as the Arusha accords was signed, calling for a power-sharing arrangement that was to lead to elections.  The downing of the plane undermined the peace deal and triggered the mass killing of Tutsis and some Hutus by Hutu extremists. Some of the perpetrators were radio hosts, who used their programs to call Tutsis “cockroaches” that should be exterminated.

Neighbors killed neighbors. Entire families were wiped out. Some were killed in Roman Catholic churches where they had sought refuge and several Catholic nuns and priests have been convicted as perpetrators.  The United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, deployed to implement the Arusha peace deal, did nothing to halt the bloody rampage, blaming a restrictive mandate. Western powers failed to intervene. Then-President Clinton has since apologized, acknowledging last year that as many as 300,000 lives could have been saved had the U.S. acted.

After three months of fighting, Kagame’s forces reached the capital, Kigali, and drove the Rwandan army and government-backed militias from power.

The rebel movement Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which includes some of the perpetrators of the genocide, continues to operate in eastern Congo, launching cross-border raids. But Rwanda has faced international criticism for its backing of M23 rebels, accused of using child soldiers and carrying out atrocities. Rwanda has denied the accusations, but the U.S. froze military aid to the country in 2012 over its support for the group.

Kagame speaks scathingly about the U.N. peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo, the largest in the world. “You have a [U.N. peacekeeping] mission in Congo spending $1.5 billion every year for the past 12 years,” he said in an interview last year. “Nobody ever asks, ‘What do we get out of this?'”

For Kagame, lectures about human rights abuses are the West’s way of trying to exert control in Africa.

“For the past century, including the last 50 years of independence, Africa lost immense opportunities largely due to unbalanced relationships within the global community that were often predatory and even abusive in nature,” he said in a 2012 speech marking Rwanda’s 50th anniversary of independence. “Today, new ways of perpetuating the old order have emerged in a subtle manner, often disguised as the defense of human rights, free speech and international justice.”

Kagame frequently exhorts his fellow citizens to work hard, remember the genocide, but to move forward. He extols the virtue of Rwandan democracy and self-reliance.

Rwanda is ranked by the World Bank as one of the easiest places to do business in Africa. Though the most densely populated country in Africa, the nation of 11 million is self-sufficient in staple crops, according to the World Food Program, and acute malnutrition among children ages 6 months to 5 years is 3.6%.

Monthly work details, in which all citizens are required to participate in Saturday cleanups, have something of a Soviet feel to them — but the country is as neat as a pin.

“We must work hard because if we wait for others to develop our country, we will not make progress,” Kagame said last month. “Any external help must only come as an addition to our own efforts to better ourselves.”

article by Robyn Dixon via latimes.com