Rwanda has launched the first space and telecoms fellowship which will task young engineering students to building satellites and telecommunication technology to be self-employed.
The six months sponsored fellowship was unveiled by LEAPR- a local community of applied scientists, researchers and technologists, who took part at Transform Africa Summit (TAS) 2019, which ended this Thursday in Kigali city.
The fellowship, to be conducted in Kigali, has so far selected for the intensive mentorship and skills development 50 candidates who have prior training in telecommunication but have been unemployed for years.
“In the first three months we will have mentors and an intensive course that will guide the fellows in design thinking, to be able to come up with a project that builds solutions in space telecommunication technology,” said Serge Tuyihimbaze, the LEAPR labs Managing Director.
According to the fellowship plan, the fellows who already have an education background in electronics and telecommunication will have to come up with various scientific project proposals that will be worked on with technical support, during the training period.
After the training, the fellows will be connected to sell their projects and work with the existing partners such as Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), IHS Rwanda, and telecommunication companies among others.
The success of this fellowship could build on fertile ground, laid through a Rwanda and japan cooperation- who have developed a Rwandan satellite dubbed “Rwasat” to be deployed into international airspace end of May, 2019.
“Someone may think that we are cheating on ourselves but we are team and dreaming big, with confidence that there is nothing that is impossible,” Tuyihimbaze said at the launch event which was also attended by telecom experts and engineers and fellowship enthusiasts.
At the launch event some Rwandan technologists started dreaming big in developing high-tech appliances.
Some of the existing innovations include creating an electricity propelled self-flying plane, an idea under development by Olivier Nteziryayo a university student and founder of garnet aero system.
Patrick Uwizeyimana is interested in designing electric car engine.
However, these developers said that they face challenges of getting startup funds and they move their projects ideas off the ground.
“I started this plane project seven years ago, but it’s a long way to and needs funding,” said Nteziryayo.
Donata Umutoniwase who has skills in telecommunication said that potential employers have not engaged women to join the engineering career, which demoralizes future creativity.
“I applied for an internship in telecommunication engineering in one of the companies and they told me this is not your thing, we shall call you if we see what suits you,” she said.
Engineer Venuste Twagiramungu, founder of Trust Engineering Solutions (TRES)- an telecoms engineering company and Chairman of Iteme –a coding company committed to providing equipment and mentorship for the fellows.
He said that he will be working with some of the technologists, and engineers to develop concrete ideas which can be sold on the job market.
“I have informally mentored about 12 graduate students but this time around we are going to do it formally at the fellowship, with the support of other partners,” said Eng. Twagiramungu.
RURA Director General Lt.Col Patrick Nyirishema who officiated the launch event encouraged the young Rwandans to dream big.
Leapr revealed plans to host two more fellowships in the fields of Flying Robots and Data Science this year.