Five teenage girls from Regina Pacis Secondary School Onitsha, Anambra State have won the Junior Gold Medal at the 2018 Technovation World Challenge which held at the Silicon Valley, San Francisco, USA, on 9 August.
The five girls, Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye, represented Nigeria and Africa in California defeating representatives of other countries, including the USA, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan and China, to clinch the gold medal with a $10,000 prize.
Technovation is the world’s largest technology entrepreneurship program for girls aged 10-18 supported by UNESCO, Peace Corps and UN Women and runs across 100+ countries. The programme offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the programming skills they need to emerge as tech-entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year, girls are invited to identify a problem in their communities which they are then challenged to solve by developing Android applications that would address those problems.
Aged between 12 and 14, the team—appropriately named Save A Soul—were tutored and mentored by Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, CEO of Edufun Technik STEM. Save A Soul swept through over 2000 competing applications to get to the finals in San Francisco having emerged victorious in the Africa regional competition held in July in Abuja, Nigeria. 115 countries and over 19,000 girls around the world registered to participate in Technovation 2018, but only 12 teams from all over the world were selected as finalists.
“This is the first time a Junior Nigerian team has emerged among the finalists to visit Silicon Valley,” Ms. Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu, who is also a Mandela Washington Fellow, had said.
The girls developed a mobile app, the “FD-Detector”, to combat the menace of fake drugs in Nigeria. The app can ascertain the genuineness of a drug by just scanning the barcode. Nnalue said they were motivated to embark on the project due to the number of deaths they had heard about in Nigeria as a result of fake drugs.
The team argue that Nigeria has the largest market for fake drugs, and they plan to partner with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), using the app, to tackle this challenge.
On Twitter, congratulations have been pouring in, including Nigeria’s acting president Yemi Osinbajo who applauded them.
“These young ladies in Junior Secondary School developed a mobile application called ‘FD Detector’ to tackle the problems of fake pharmaceutical products in Nigeria,” Osinbajo tweeted on 10 August. “Yesterday, they won the 2018 Technovation World Pitch in California. Congratulations! We are very proud of you.”
Since 2010, more than 10,000 girls from 78 countries have participated in Technovation. With the help of volunteer mentors, they’ve produced mobile “startups” that have helped address problems around a diverse range of problems, including food waste, nutrition, women’s safety and much more. in local and global communities the world over.