The simplest way to understand the depth of havoc the pandemic has caused is to envisage that Covid-19 needs no special definition or introduction in any part of the world.
The effect spans across board with some reaping massive benefits while the vast majority coil up in uncertainties.
However hard this has been, it has also given room for everyone to make contributions in his or her own “small” way: Sometimes it’s just a social distance practice but could be as indispensable as a warrior who rescues the King from a head-target bullet.
I am a first year creative design student from University of Rwanda. Like any other youth, I am a lover of sports and movies. Games are all that I need in a boring day.
The lockdown could only be a catalyst but for how long? I asked myself daily. Whilst the pandemic at the beginning of the year wreaked havoc in Asia, Europe and America, I could less severely feel its impact.
However, soon enough, could not rest when I heard Covid-19 had made its way into Africa and later in Rwanda. As experts predicted the possible impact of the pandemic in Africa, there was absolutely no time to rejoice in games and movies that came with the school break.
My innovative skills which has been my strong hold since childhood, gave me no peace of mind. I felt burdened to contribute to fighting Covid-19 in one way or another.
I became an ardent information seeker. I took to the internet and digested as much information as possible in the quest to identifying an implementable innovation to combating this issue.
I came up with a solution of cashless transaction called “tap and pay”. The process is to reduce the tendency of people physically touching money when they visit public toilet in the times of Covid-19.
Though purposely designed for Covid-19, it is also scalable post the pandemic. I am glad to say this project is still being developed and will be available for public consumption in no time.
As a habitual social media user, my links on social media are invaluable. I keep an effort into building and keeping my online social capital: a tweet from the Ministry of ICT and innovation provided a link to partake in a bootcamp hosted by University of Pisa in partnership with UNECA and UNESCO.
The bootcamp was packaged with great ideas and innovations from participants of different backgrounds.
My team was made up of creative minds from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, and though we did not emerge as the winners in the competition, one of my creative drawings and designs posted on Facebook was judged the best for the entire competition which granted me an unprecedented opportunity of joining the special WIPO summer school on intellectual property and knowledge transfer in South Africa.
The events at WIPO enlightened me on IP, innovation, creativity, teamwork and ethics. I have also realized my usefulness and worth as a Rwandan: our country is a knowledge based economy and I could do no better than to help protect her intellectual assets.
I consider this a step in the right direction. I also took courses in digital marketing and design thinking from Ignite innovation lab which saw volumes of problem solvers from across Africa gather to develop solutions for achieving the SDGs.
Though I am an astute reader and learner, I acknowledge that studying from home and being your own boss online could be an arduous task but with persistence and perseverance, one can archive his target.
Having emerged out of the summer school with a first-class grade, which is way beyond my expectation, my aspiration now is to provide a platform that will give updates on opportunities across the world and also organize online classes and labs on IP for Rwandan youth especially the generation Z community.
It is worth noting that working from home is the new normal and the youth should learn to adopt to it. I believe together we can! but I also reckon that “building oneself is building a nation”. The internet is full of information that can keep us active and informed in this era of pandemic. Long live Rwanda! Long live African! Youth Arise! Let’s be the beacon of excellence in Africa. Thank you.
The writer is a first year student at the University of Rwanda
The views expressed in this article are of the author.