10 May 2018

Africa: Nigerien Salissou Crowned Miss Geek Africa 2018

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Photo: New Times
Nigerien Salissou Hassane Yari Latifa pose for a photo with one of her family members.

23-year-old Salissou Hassane Yari Latifa, from Niger, is Miss Geek Africa 2018, the continental competition that brings together girls from science and technology fields.

The University student beat a field of nine other competitors during a contest held on the sidelines of Transform Africa Summit 2018, to win the second edition of the continent's Miss Geek competition.

The competition is designed to inspire African girls to be part of solving the continent's challenges using technology and encourage them to choose a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Salissou walked away with a Rwf3 million cash prize and a ticket to travel to any international conference, courtesy of Smart Africa.

She developed a mobile phone application called Saro App that allows people to alert emergency services and inform them of the itinerary to take to reach the location. It will also allow emergency services to send crucial practical first-aid information before they get there.

The winner had earlier said that Saro, which means security in Hausa, is an innovative solution that could improve response time for frequent accidents in Africa.

Salissou was one of the five girls who reached the final, but the semi-final attracted 10 contestants from seven African countries who are members of Smart Africa.

Organisers highlighted that this year's competition attracted over 200 applicants, and that they were planning to make it bigger and better.

"A deserving win for Salissou who presented an innovative app as a quick response to road accidents, addressing a challenge emanating from a growing middle-class in Africa. Innovative and well thought through," said Patience Mutesi, one of the judges.

Ndeye Fatou Mboup, from Senegal, was the first runner-up. She created a fully smart granary that could help farmers and small-scale traders in the region preserve vegetables and fruits.

The other three finalists were all Rwandans.

Christelle Mazimpaka was the second runner-up of the competition and was given Rwf1 million. She highlighted the challenge of matching small businesses in Africa with small investors and proposed a web platform and mobile App, the ISI Circles, where business plans and models can be shared.

Sylvie Mahoro, who showcased a translation App that would enhance communication, was the third runner-up. Alida Umurungi was the fourth runner-up.

All the ten girls were also given certificates and other assorted prizes, including laptops and modems.

Last year, Ruth Waiganjo, from Kenya, was crowned the inaugural Miss Geek Africa. However, the competition had been running since 2014

Miss Geek went continental last year after organisers, Girls in ICT Rwanda, entered into partnership with Smart Africa Secretariat. The idea to scale the competition to the continental level was to provide more opportunities to innovative women across the continent.

Girls in ICT Rwanda is a group of women professionals in STEM, who have come together to be role models for Rwandan girls and encourage them to consider careers in STEM fields.

Miss Geek has given girls a platform to express themselves openly; they are given opportunities to step out of their comfort zone, and explore what the STEM fields have to offer with hope that they too become role models for younger generations.

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