Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s leading tech giants, has entered a partnership with the Government of Rwanda, through the Ministry of ICT and the Ministry of Education, that will see the former equip the Rwanda Coding Academy (RCA).
The launch for the partnership took place last Friday, November 5, at the Coding Academy located in Nyabihu District. During the launch, Samsung committed to sharing the latest technologies with RCA to improve the coding skills taught to students at the Northern Province based academy.
They entered a partnership deal to exchange latest technologies, following Samsung officials’ visit to the RCA campus located in Nyabihu district, Northern province on November 5.
As a result of the partnership, Samsung started off by equipping a 30 seater innovation lab with its innovative technology in the form of 24 inch Samsung computer monitors, Keyboards and mouse’s, routers, an interactive e-board, state of the art air-conditioning for the lab as well as well as the server room and the cabling for the entire set-up.
This will go towards equipping students from the academy with the latest knowledge in terms of coding and software development. In his speech, the Director of Operations, Innovation and Head of Corporate Affairs at Samsung, East Africa, Hhulbi Shivanda, said that the global tech giant looks forward to many years of partnership with the Rwanda Coding Academy.
“At Samsung we are really excited about this project because the potential is immeasurable, the impact on the community and the leaders of tomorrow is astonishing. It is a project that we are proud to be associated with and is the beginning of many many years of partnership,”
“Together for Tomorrow” is Samsung Electronics global CSR vision focused on enabling people through leveraging strategic, local partnerships and share our resources directly benefiting communities. In East Africa Samsung has partnered with different organizations in Kenya and Ethiopia to execute similar projects with a focus on technology. The company will also be executing the same in other East African markets that they operate in.
Shivanda said that Rwanda has taken the lead in ensuring that ICT is at the centre of development, citing the country’s access to broadband and power connectivity as an impressive example.
“The first thing for us was finding the institutions that are in the space where the world is going in software skills, coding, robotics, etc. This is where the world is going,” Shivanda said.
“When we had the conversation with the Minister, she told us that as the institution, they will be excited to partner with our institution. As a world high tech company, we are already to share the latest technologies with RCA to make sure that the students get the best skills and will be ready and skilled after their training,” he added.
He pointed that Samsung has a regional program of volunteering in sharing tech skills by training people in various countries, and RCA students will be among the beneficiaries.
The innovation lab which was unveiled on Friday is connected to the server room also established by Samsung.
“It is a strong server and it speeds up whatever students are doing in the lab. Also, student’s computers were slow and some couldn’t accommodate some software, but with these new high-tech computers, students will learn easily, what they are requested to do now, is thinking harder what can solve community problems and continue with innovation,” Dr. Papias Niyigena, the Director of RCA said.
“The innovation lab and server room also have a strong processing power and different programs will be done from there. When you look at Samsung, it is a tech company that strives to make technologies that are coming in the future, this is the center and objective of this partnership, we want our students to think of what is coming in the future and act,” Niyigena said.
In 2019, the government launched RCA with the first intake of 60 students. 30 girls and 30 boys, it was part of the efforts to address in a more sustainable manner the shortage of high caliber software experts on the Rwandan market.
The academy specializes in the fields of software programming, embedded systems, software engineering, cyber security, among others.
It admits the best students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects from ‘O’ Level National Examinations countrywide.
The RCA students learn for a period of 3 years, determined to pursue a life-time coding career at an early age to emerge as global software engineers.
“Not every computer can accommodate strong software, especially ours that have low processors, but the Samsung computers have speedy processors. So, it becomes easy for us to work on various innovation projects in a short period,” Sharon Kobusinge, a student at RCA said.
“Sometimes we develop software, but when you put it in the laptop, it takes a long time to open it or even refuse. This was a big challenge to work timely and accomplish our projects,” she added.
First batch graduation slated in June
According to the RCA, the first intake will graduate in June next year after completing a three-year training. They will be ready to join the University of Rwanda and pursue various courses including computer engineering, computer science, software engineering, embedded systems, etc.
“They have immersive skills and are ready to join the workforce after graduation in June. But those who wish to continue to the university, the government will support them, as it has been,” Paul Umukunzi, Director General of Rwanda TVET Board (RTB) said.
“These students have started solving some challenges before even completing their studies like creating the teacher’s online recruitment system, mayor’s imihigo online systems, and there are other pending projects that are expect to solve society challenges, everyone understandings how important they are to the nation and the region,” Umukunzi added.
According to Umukunzi, RCA graduates will not graduate to look for jobs because “they are already working.”
About the partnership with Samsung, Umukunzi said it is “a pleasure” to have one of the leading tech companies across the globe working with the Coding Academy.
Rwanda Coding Academy came to respond to the recommendations of the “Rwanda Digital Talent Policy” as approved by the Cabinet in April 2018.
The “Digital Talent Policy” calls for initiatives to strengthen a framework of ICT, training and qualification in Rwanda, placing emphasis on hands-on and market-oriented ICT skills.
It seeks to specifically introduce software programming to learners at elementary levels in order to address current shortages of software developers on the market.
“Samsung understands where the world is heading technologically, with this aspect, it is important to partner with them, our students are trained to see far and move with latest technologies, it is a pleasure,” Umukunzi said.
“We shall keep increasing the number of students in this academy and our wish is to have every student own a high-tech computer, which is important for this partnership with Samsung,” he added.
Since 2019 when it was launched, the academy has admitted 180 students, according to Umukunzi.