Kent Alumna from Rwanda joins high level UN panel alongside Melinda Gates and Jack Ma and makes significant strides to change the face of technology in her country

Akaliza Keza Ntwari, an ICT advocate and entrepreneur from Rwanda, who completed her Bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Technology and Design in the School of Engineering and Digital Arts in 2008, is part of the newly announced UN High level Panel on Digital Technology, co-chaired by Melinda Gates (Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and Jack Ma (Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group).

The Panel comprises 20 members representing a cross-section of expertise from government, private industry, civil society, academia and the technical community.  The development was announced by The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who commented: “The scale, spread and speed of change made possibly by digital technologies is unprecedented, but the current means and levels of international cooperation are unequal to the challenge”.

“Digital technologies make a significant contribution to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and they cut uniquely across international boundaries.  Therefore, cooperation across domains and across borders is critical to realizing the full social and economic potential of digital technologies as well as mitigating the risks that they pose and curtailing any unintended consequences’ he added.

Akaliza is one of the few young Rwandan women who have made significant strides in changing the face of technology in her country.  She has been active in promoting the field to girls and has been recognised for her activism by awards from the Rwandan government and the International Telecommunication Union.

Akaliza is also a  tech entrepreneur and has founded two companies offering multimedia design and technology services. As well as her career as an entrepreneur with an impressive range of public and private consultancy work, over the years Akaliza has volunteered her time to support and work with several organisations including kLab and Global Shapers. She is also a founding member of Girls in ICT Rwanda – a group of female ICT entrepreneurs and professionals who are passionate about STEM and have come together to inspire more girls to join these exciting fields.

She has been recognised for her work and advocacy within the ICT sector, including being awarded the Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur in ICT Award from the Ministry of Youth & ICT in 2012 and being inducted into the Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Board in 2014. In 2014 Akaliza was also offered MEXT scholarship and completed a two year Master’s degree in 2016 at the Kobe Institute of Computing in Japan. Akaliza returned to Rwanda in 2016 where she continued to offer her services as a multimedia consultant to clients around the world and personally advocate and pursue positive impact in and through ICT development in Africa.

“Technology is neither good nor bad.  It’s just a tool – a very powerful tool – and what matters is how the world uses it. If all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have equal access to digital technology, they will use it to improve life for themselves and their families and raise their voices in conversations about what the future holds.  Enabling this widescale empowerment is what this panel is about” said Melinda Gates.

The Panel will hold its first meting this September 2018 and is expected to submit its final report to the Secretary-General within 9 months.

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