Lesotho
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‘If you don’t know it, Google it’

By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – ‘If you don’t know it, Google it’, these were recurring buzzwords throughout the Google Developers Festival (Devfest) event held in pomp and circumstance this weekend in Maseru.

The first Googlefest event in Lesotho attracted techno-savvy aspirants from across the districts as well as international speakers.

Lesotho’s Google Developer Group (GDG) Maseru Lead Organizer ‘Maneo Mapharisa described the event as “a dream come true”.

Devfest is the global tech festival hosted by the local GDG and is themed around the needs and interests of particular local organizers.

The GDG Maseru said it strives “to bring awareness of available Google and Open Source products everything from Android to APIs.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Mapharisa chronicled her tech journey which she said had not been an easy ride. Bitten by the tech buck while a student at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) while doing third, the Girls Coding Academy co-founder said she was exposed to coding and was assigned a role to work with girls, she realized a need that girls are not exposed to technology as their male counterparts and was inspired to open a Girls Coding Academy where she takes both girls and boys.

She encouraged the participants from other districts to have the Google Developers Group rolled out in those districts.

Also speaking at the event, Teboho Khoali Head of Experimentation at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Lab said the solutions that they identify should influence the national policy.

The Head of Accelerator Lab told the enthusiastic attendants that they should come up with inclusive projects that will attract sponsorship.  

He said some of the tech-based projects that UNDP has supported are those that work with the community policing forum.

Khoali further mentioned that the UNDP, through the Accelerator Lab, also developed technological products used for purposes of village health workers (VHW).  

Last year, the Accelerator Lab joined forces with like-minded stakeholders to launch a plastic-free Wednesday under the ‘plastic management project’.

Punctuated with constant reactions from hyped-up participants, attendants were engaging throughout the whole event where they interacted with the speakers. 

From Vodacom Lesotho, Mosa Matasane said they sponsor programmes that anchor knowledge.

She further appealed to participants to embrace technology.

“Lesotho is not going to be left behind,” she added.

Also, Scrum Master, Matasane impressed on the need to harness technology for the future.

One of the participants Teboho Lechaka who is studying Information Technology at Botho University applauded the initiative saying it has accorded him an opportunity to rub shoulders with fellow counterparts in the technology space.

Lechaka says he is planning to join forces with fellow techno junkies.

He said the festival is an opportunity to some of the issues he had challenges with.

Asked how the event will enhance his tech journey going forward, he said: “It is going to allow me to have an environment where I can share my ideas and get help, which I find very vital since I have an experience in the field”.

Vodacom Lesotho’s Management Information System Specialist, Renang Lieta challenged the participants to explore their creative senses and come up with workable solution ideas.

Asked what the key takeaways are he said “critical thinking in the technology field”.

He said he is exposed to emerging technology and business entrepreneurship as well as guidance on how an individual makes it in the world of technology.

The event also attracted international speakers. The GDG-Candidate and GDG Hackathon in Asia and Africa as well as the Engineering Manager at Bukalapak Surahutomo Aziz Pradana, who gave a virtual presentation from Indonesia.