For Rachel Sibande, information and communication technology (ICT) is the crucial missing link in efforts to propel her native Malawi – and many other African countries – to greater heights.One of the Malawi’s young trailblazers, Sibande is convinced that the ICT sector has the potential to lead Africa out of poverty and make the continent proudly stand up among the world’s biggest economies.
In her own unique way, Sibande is contributing towards ensuring that the ICT sector lights up Africa’s development path.
She is a founder of Malawi Hub, the country’s first technology and innovation hub whose objective to develop sustainable technology solutions to meet the needs of various organizations in the southern African nation and beyond.
The hub has, among others, developed several innovative digital technology solutions for companies and development agencies that deal with democracy and humanitarian aid, she said.
The technology solutions have been developed in Malawi, Zambia and recently in Zimbabwe but there is a huge potential to expand it more countries in the southern Africa region, she explained.
“We also provide a platform for skills development, knowledge transfer, networking and mentorship for ICT entrepreneurs and innovators in the country,” she said.
The hub nurtures young innovators and entrepreneurs by providing them with technical and business skills to create sustainable business solutions.
It also facilitates structural mentorship between young entrepreneurs and innovators with established experts, researchers and icons in technology and business.
“The hub provides a co-working space for young innovators and entrepreneurs. The space is designed to unearth creativity and stimulate innovative thinking,” she said.
Sibande explained that her hub runs two entrepreneur challenges that facilitate access to finance for young entrepreneurs. These are a US$30,000 national entrepreneurs challenge called “What will you do with 20 million Kwacha” and a US$500 Graduate Pitch Challenge for university and college students.
At the age of 34, Sibande has just completed her doctorate in computer science at Rhodes University in South Africa.
She has been listed twice by Forbes, one on the Africa’s 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in 2016 and as a new wealth creator in 2019.
Sibande received a Google scholarship in 2015 and is currently serving as a programme director at the United Nations Digital Impact Alliance.