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Kigali-Kobe ICT Business Initiative empowers UR students with innovative tech-based skills

The Kigali-Kobe ICT Business Initiative, under the JICA Partnership Program, has trained around 56 entrepreneurs with ICT-based start-up skills across various sectors. This is one of key deliverables under Kigali-Kobe ICT Human Resources Initiative for Business Development project, jointly implemented by the African Centre of Excellence in Internet of Things (ACEIoT) in collaboration with JICA Rwanda, Kobe Institute of Computing (KIC) and DCD Japan International
This project includes training in Internet of Things, Entrepreneurship and ICT courses to enhance the employability of youth in Rwanda and boost the new employment in Rwanda’s ICT Sector
The most recent cohort of graduates received their certificates on Friday, May 10, 2024, at a concluding business networking event at the University of Rwanda - College of Science and Technology.
The training was delivered at the African Centre of Excellence in Internet of Things (ACEIoT) by Rwandan graduates and professors from Kobe Institute of Computing (KIC) .
This event facilitated networking opportunities for Rwandan and Japanese ICT professionals, trainees, companies, start-ups, and entrepreneurs.
During the event, participants had the chance to connect with Rwandan and Japanese companies, start-ups, and entrepreneurs, shared experiences and some innovations that were innovated during the training.
“They have learnt many good skills and have to make practice. I urge everyone to never give up. In the end, they can be successful,” said Shiotsuka Minako, the Director of the Japan International Cooperation Agency in Rwanda.
She expressed optimism that the trained students would establish successful businesses leveraging on their acquired skills.
“Several students have started their businesses thanks to JICA’s facilitation,” she noted.
She said the results are from the existing collaboration between the University of Rwanda, Kobe Institute of Computing (KIC), Kobe City Government, and JICA, especially in harnessing ICT in education.
Dr. Evariste Twahirwa, a Lecturer and researcher at the University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology, said that the project has contributed a lot to the capacity building of University students with IoT, AI technical and entrepreneurship skills.
“The project trained the trainees in different ICT sectors to provide applied solutions in agriculture, transport, disaster management, cybersecurity, and health among others. They underwent a six-month training period and were connected with investors and industries to implement their business projects,” he said.
The trainees projects will accompany them in their future live and the Business networking event provided the opportunities for them to get connection with privates company that are interested in their projects for further development. He added.
The training has benefited 56 people from Rwanda, Malawi, Tchad, DRC ,Tanzania and Kenya and most of them are University of Rwanda students and Alumni
Trainees came up with innovative solutions
During the event, some of the trainees presented their projects, receiving feedback on refining their ideas. Gershom Imfura presented a mobile refrigerated van to improve milk supply.

“Only less than 50 per cent of milk supply reaches the formal market due to inadequate refrigeration and storage facilities. The project will ensure the correct status and health of milk, as well as temperature and humidity control,” he said.
Grace Mwangi shared a smart parking project named “SpotOn Parking” aimed at addressing urban congestion issues.
“We want to make parking simple to address the problem of congestion in urban areas exacerbated by inefficient parking management systems which result in wasted time for drivers, and pollution. Existing systems lack real-time data and efficient allocation methods leading to frustration,” she said. She said the smart parking solution will optimise space utilisation, reduce congestion and improve urban mobility by using Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to allocate parking efficiently.

Ibyigize Kalisimbi developed an Internet of Things-based system for flood monitoring and alerting dubbed “ DIWARNIFY”.
“We have a mission to enhance flood preparedness, response, and resilience in Rwanda through innovative IoT technology. This will improve early warning, and reduce flood-related casualties and property damage,” she said.

Nadine Byukusenge innovated "Laptop-ID Verifier", an IoT-based solution for laptop user registration and verification at universities.
“There are currently 30,455 students at the University of Rwanda. So there is a need for students to verify their laptops at the gate to avoid theft and enhance security. The system will address long queues, time wastage, and too much paperwork. The IoT device will be used by security companies and universities,” she said.

Ipyana Mwaisekwa presented a project called “SoilBot”.
“The system will be monitoring soil, identifying crop diseases and soil nutrient levels. It will assist farmers in making informed decisions. It will also enable precise fertilisation based on soil nutrient data. Real-time monitoring and decision-making on soil conditions and crop disease detection will be easy,” he said.

One of trainees presenting his innovation after a six-month intensive training

Eftax ( one of Japanese companies) CEO, Tomoaki Nakai, gave a keynote presentation on Eftax’s comprehensive services including data analysis, AI, application development, and HR support.

Shunta Igarashi, the CEO of World Co.Ltd also presented the company’s online programmes connecting schools globally. It is a start-up from Kobe that provides online programmes that connect schools and other educational institutions around the world, and in Japan, to spark global discussions on societal issues.

Christian Rugamba, the CEO of Tech Avenue 137, explained that the company builds mobile apps, websites, web apps, and software systems and provides apprenticeships.
It offers software development, web application, IT business, and project support and training solutions
This training closing ceremony was attended by delegates from Japan namely Fukuoka Kenji, Director of Kobe Institute of Computing, Naito Tomoyuki, Project Manager at KIC, Shiotsuka Minako, Representative of JICA in Rwanda and Burundi, alongside many other key stakeholders.

One of trainees receiving a certificate after completion of the training
One of trainees receiving a certificate after completion of the training
One of trainees receiving a certificate after completion of the training
A group photo of trainees and delegates from KOBE during a networking event