From technology to womanhood, PechaKucha comes to Kigali

The event series originated from Japan
Dominique Uwase Alonga, Chief Executive Officer at Imagine We Rwanda during her presentation ( All photos by David Mutabazi)

When PechaKucha debuted in Kigali last night, few, with the exception of organisers, had ever heard the term.

Even fewer were those that could pronounce the word right.


PechaKucha describes a new style of presentation that has been on the rise since 2003, when it was formulated by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architecture, based in Tokyo, Japan.


It was conceived as a forum for young designers to meet, network, and showcase their ideas or work.


It is basically a fast-paced format in which each speaker has 20 slides, each set to automatically move forward after 20 seconds, with a total of six minutes and forty seconds available to each speaker to drive their point home.

Quite the opposite of the traditional text-heavy PowerPoint presentation.

The inaugral PechaKucha was well attended

In a way, PechaKucha is like a shorter, more fun and less structured TEDx talk.

It entails short, concise presentations of an individual’s ambitions, ideas, dreams, projects, or philosophy with a view to finding creative solutions.

Codenamed PechaKucha Night Kigali (PKNK), Rwanda’s first event was staged at the Choma’d Bar and Grill in Nyarutarama.

There was a total of eleven presenters, and these hailed from fields as varied as; ICT, Architecture, Urban planning, Academia, to literary advocacy and Hip-hop dance.

About half the number of presenters hailed from Mass Design Group, a non-profit US Design firm with operations in the US and Rwanda.

Patrick Buchana

Patrick Buchana makes his presentation.

The night’s first presenter was Patrick Buchana, the CEO of AC Group, whose presentation centered around ICT innovations in the last 20 years, the dotcom burst, and what lies ahead.

“Drivers of growth for the next 25 years will not be internet, but oncology, material science, agric, so Africa should focus on agriculture where it has a comparative advantage, with almost 65 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land. The truth is that the internet bubble has left us, we can focus on an area in which we can win, and that area is agriculture.

Marias Igitangaza and Patrick Kubwimana, two Architecture students from the University of Rwanda also made a presentation about their winning logo design for the revised Kigali City Master Plan.

The two, shade light on the winning logo design, which takes into consideration the City of Kigali’s vision to be a city of excellence, efficiency, hard work, of creativity, a green city and one for the people.

The logo depicts Kigali as a city of urban excellence in Africa.

Benon Rukundo made a presentation on the Kigali Urban Master Plan.

Benon Rukundo, an urban planner from the City of Kigali shed light on the scope of the Kigali Urban Master Plan as regards public transport, housing, clean water, green spaces, and urban farming, among others.

Aimable Mukire from Mass Energy Group made a presentation titled “Kigali’s Water Woes”, reeling off a string of creative solutions to the city’s chronic water shortages.

Some solutions (like; to not bathe everyday), were more tongue-in-cheek than practical, meant to loosen up the crowd in the true spirit of PechaKucha.

But perhaps the best presentation came from Dominic Alonga, a local author, publisher and founder of Imagine We, made a presentation about her passion for womanhood and her journey to finding a voice as a woman in Entrepreneurship.

Alex Ndibwami, an architect and lecturer at the School of Architecture and Built Environment (SABE) was part of the team that brought PechaKucha to Kigali.

“When I moved to Kigali recently, I realised that Kigali was not on the platform [PechaKucha]. I took the initiative to get Kigali and Rwanda for that matter onboard. What I project of the future is an even bigger series of events. We plan to hold PechaKucha Nights every three months as a start. When we pick up, we will begin doing it every month,” Ndibwami said.

Now in over 1,000 cities across the globe, PechaKucha nights are typically held in bars, restaurants, night clubs, studios, beaches, around swimming pools, and studios –basically any public space where people can interface in a relaxed way.

Devised in Tokyo, Japan in February 2003, the idea is to have young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. The success of Kigali’s maiden event not only shows its viability, but the potential and optimism of Rwandan youth.

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