EDITORIAL: So, what is the big deal about coding? Everything

For the average audience, the many technological meetings taking place in Kigali, the many efforts the government is putting in place in promoting ICT use in everyday life, must be baffling.

What about the Smart Africa summit that has become a must-go event for those in the tech industry? The fact that many continue to put it in their bucket list has made it grow stronger year by year.

Girls are being literally pushed to take on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects and what used to be Miss Geek Rwanda to celebrate the best young female in adapting technology, in now a continental affair.

One can’t board a bus without an electronic card and nearly all government services are available online via Irembo platform. The list is endless and there is more in store as the country moves away from the smaller Smart Kigali concept to spread it across the country.

So, it is a big deal that the country’s first Coding Academy opened its doors this week, not in Kigali, but in Nyabihu District in the Western Province. It intends to train the country’s much-needed software engineers as the country goes hi-tech.

As if that were not enough, many international companies are opting to set shop in Kigali. The latest is Andela that has chosen to install its African headquarters here.

Through its Kigali hub, the training and recruitment company wants to produce between 500 and 1000 world-class software developers in Rwanda within the first five years of their operations.

One might wonder whether the country needs all that number of software Engineers in that short a time. The answer is that it will not be exclusively local but other foreign nationals will also be trained as well.

This ardent push to excel in technology might explain why Carnegie Mellon University Africa and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences chose to set their campuses here. But it explains more than just that; a country that is hungry to bring out the best in its people and spares no cost to achieve its goals.