“We came, we coded, we conquered!” Africa University Innovation Manager Ms. Yollanda Washaya reflected on the intense hackathon held at the UbuntuNet Connect Conference that took place in Kampala, Uganda from the 26th to the 27th of October 2023 under the theme, “Fostering Creative and Innovative Research and Education Communities.”
The team placed 3rd out of 300 competitors across the continent through their application Kusha. The all- female team was comprised of Yollanda Washaya, Web Developer Blessing Gavaza, i5Hub Graduate Trainee Trish Ngirazi and ICT Graduate Trainee Ashley Masvodza. This accomplishment comes on the back of Africa University’s continued STEM drive with women at the forefront addressing not only the continental but global challenge of onboarding more women into the field.
Speaking to the milestone application, its functionalities and what makes it stand out in addressing challenges in higher education in Africa, Ms. Washaya said, “Kusha, an innovative ICT solution is aimed at empowering researchers in Eastern and Southern Africa by leveraging the power of social media to promote their research findings to a wider audience. The term Kusha translates to disseminate in Shona (a bantu language), reflecting the core objective of this system which is to disseminate research in an accessible manner. Kusha will serve as a comprehensive platform that allows researchers to seamlessly link their research journal links from research platforms to Kusha. By integrating advanced technologies, Kusha will enable researchers to generate journal summaries, policy briefs, and infographics automatically from their research, ensuring better accessibility and comprehension for a non-specialist audience. Additionally, the system will harness Generative Pre-trained Transformers to allow researchers to generate multiple options for social media post drafts, catering to popular platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Kusha will also allow researchers to link their social media handles to the system, facilitating direct posting and real-time interaction with their audience.”
The curation of African knowledge generated on the continent and by people of the continent remains a challenge that Kusha aims to address. The full participation of Africa in the AI revolution relies heavily upon accurate and contextually relevant data sets and it is through the generation of home grown solutions to this issue that the tech space is gradually becoming democratized and the gap in access to technology shortened. The future of African innovation is expansive and AU remains a leader in enhancing and empowering female voices in tech.
UbuntuNet Alliance is the regional research and education network for East and Southern Africa. It aims at providing advanced networking infrastructure for the research and education community to support research, teaching and learning.