Akaliza Keza Gara is one of the few young Rwandan women who have made significant strides in changing the face of technology in the country.
She is the founder of Shaking Sun, a local multimedia concern, whose aim is to engage businesses and individuals to realise their ambitions through the use of innovative technology; a mentor at KLab, an open technology hub in Kigali; and a member of Girls in ICT Rwanda, a group of female ICT entrepreneurs and professionals, whose major goal is to alter the stereotype held by many young girls that ICT is a man’s field.
Last year, the 27-year-old was appointed Microsoft’s youth representative for the East African region – becoming the first Rwandan to achieve such a feat.
By virtue of her position, Ms Akaliza plays a significant role of advising Microsoft’s 4Afrika initiative on what is trending in the region — as far as technology is concerned.
And in her trophy cabinet, Ms Akaliza has the Most Outstanding Woman in ICT 2013 award, which recognises any deserving young woman for her outstanding contribution to her organisation and society.
Ms Akaliza started her career in Rwanda’s website consulting arena in 2009 after obtaining her first degree in Multimedia Technology and Design at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.
“I was born in Uganda but I have lived in nine different countries to date, including South Africa, Kenya, the US, France, Switzerland, and Italy.”
It is this nomadic life that has provided Ms Akaliza with an insight into the values unique to different cultures. It has also helped her develop an exceptionally creative mind as well as an eccentric way of viewing the world that has helped her easily adapt and thrive in ICT.
When she arrived in Rwanda, Ms Akaliza started her career in a big way – as a website consultant for the Public Sector Capacity Building Secretariat (PSCBS) – at only 23 years old.
“I beat several other bidders to the tender. That’s when I realised that in Rwanda people don’t offer you a job based on your gender, age or financial muscle of your company,” she says.
“For my first job I even used my client’s laptop; they were only interested in my skills... It was an exciting experience!”
It was then that Ms Akaliza decided that website consultancy was the way to go.
Under the auspices of Shaking Sun, Ms Akaliza has trained many young Rwandans.
In animation, Ms Akaliza is busy with African Tales, a cartoon project that will see her treat us to the first Rwandan cartoon series targeting African children but, more specifically, Rwandan children.