Ivomerere, a unique automated irrigation system, saw 22-year-old Rosine Mwiseneza win the top honour and take home a Rwf2 million cheque, a laptop, a Samsung phone and an IPad Air in prizes at the recently concluded Ms. Geek 2016 competition. Her project is about having an abundant supply of food even in the dry season using less time and energy.
Mwiseneza told Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa how she plans to make use of her reign as Ms. Geek 2016.
What project did you pitch for the competition?
I gave my project the name Ivomerere because it emphasises the need to save time and energy used by farmers to get to the field. They only need to check once. This auto-irrigate system uses sensors which detect the moisture of the soil. Once the soil loses out on moisture, it quickly informs the system to irrigate the field by providing power to the water pump which extracts water from the tank.
How did you come up with the concept?
In high school we used to do irrigation at school to help trees grow. Although I’m still a student at university, I have a job in a rural area with a company called ‘M-Power Off Grid Academy’. They supply solar systems and bulbs to communities for people who are experiencing an expensive grid. I thought of coming up with a project that can help irrigate with little time and energy. Through my experience, I also realised that people were struggling to irrigate with heavy tanks. Also, the rain which is coming in different seasons is useless and I thought that we could keep the rain water and use it during the dry season. Most of the rural people lament about hunger and the drought that dries their crops. That is how I came up with this idea, to create a system to help them keep rain water and avoid carrying heavy water tanks.
Are there chances that it will be developed into a fully functioning solution?
If we get full support from the government or other institutions to purchase the required equipment, I think that the system will be easily accessible to farmers, help supply food to the urban areas and also maintain a minimum cost even in dry seasons.
Why do you think you beat the other competitors?
The judges followed a certain criteria and considered projects that are accessible and can contribute a lot to the community. Agriculture contributes a lot to the GDP of the country. Being an orphan pushed me to dream big. I knew that I had to work hard to fulfil my dreams, have a bright future and I want to be the best that I can be.
How popular is tech innovation amongst high school girls?
Most girls are interested in being tech innovators but they lack motivation as many of them don’t even know what it is. They need women to inspire them and look up to and follow their footsteps. They don’t have to stop with the competition, there is need to inspire girls to think big and become tech innovators.
Why do you think girls shy away from Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses?
Many girls think these subjects are complicated. I also thought the same before joining the science world. However, now I realise how important STEM is and how much we need it in society.
What could be done to get more girls into STEM?
It might seem hard for girls to believe in themselves but that shouldn’t limit our participation in ICT. One might think that their kind of work should be in line with what they studied, which shouldn’t be the case. Girls ought to be open to opportunities and should be willing to learn.
During your time as Ms. Geek, what will you do to help change this state of affairs?
I want to inspire girls and some culture actors to identify the problems in our society and work with them to create solutions. I want to change the mindset of people beginning with my friends and other girls that I started the competition with. There is more that we can do to improve agriculture and I want to be the source of inspiration for them.
Name: Rosine Mwiseneza
School: Keplar University
Course: Business Management majoring in Public Administration
Ms. Geek term target: Doing networking and looking for people to give me advice on how to use tools efficiently. I want to learn more from people who have been successful. I want to do more research on my project.
Message to young girls:
I advise them to embrace the art of learning; and they should follow their dreams. Do not compare yourself to others as it can easily pull you down.