Juliana Rotich is the founder of Ushahidi, an open-source software designed for receiving and mapping information. As a technology expert from Kenya, she has collaborated with like minds in the creation of iHub, a tech creative space in Nairobi.
At Standard Media Group and Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Board, the African geek woman sits as one of the board members in developing effective strategies to spark sustainable developments in the country.
Her passion for technology led her to study Computer Science obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Missouri–Kansas City, in the United States. Although, her elementary and secondary education started from the grassroot, the motherland. Juliana is now an MIT Media Lab Fellow.
Juliana Rotich: Growing Ushahidi From The Grassroots
Juliana Rotich understands technology and connectivity perfectly and what the future holds for Africa innovatively. She has created Ushahidi as a crowdsourcing platform established as a not-for-profit technology firm.
How Ushahidi Works:
The word Ushahidi is from Swahili, the most spoken language in Africa. It means “witness” or “testimony”. It is an open-source software that allows people to report and share information about situations and events happening around them with the use of any mobile device.
They can therefore be contributors and distributors of data which are later sent to a central storage on the ‘cloud’ categorized using geo-location.
Ushahidi was a brilliant response for the continuous distribution of information during when media houses were forced to shut down as a result of the post-election in Kenya, 2008. The software has now been programmed in different languages (more than 30 languages) and in more than 159 countries including non-African countries such as Japan, Pakistan and Haiti.
“It is really important to look local, to ask what is going on,
“It can help us to push the boundary of what is possible with technology,” she says during Design Indaba Conference 2014.
Africa To The World With BRCK Telecommunications Service
Juliana is also the founder of BRCK, one of the leading router companies in Africa. She didn’t come out of the blue emerging as one of the driving forces in the continent; she has headed BASF, a German chemical company, at the East Africa office in 2018. In East Africa, BASF majorly deals with the agricultural sector, construction and plastics industries.
Due to connectivity challenges faced in Africa, Juliana is driven by this one underlining question that every African entrepreneur should think about before diving in to make a change:
“What if solutions to the world’s problems came from Africa?”
“We need to “do what [we] can, with what [we] have, where [we] are”, she said quoting Theodore Roosevelt.
“Investment in technology, people and creative networks can help us to make sure that Africa’s next vanguard is something that we are part of,
“We are fostering and creating a new ecosystem, a new way of connecting African countries one to each other and a new way of being.”
Over the years, Ushahidi software has advanced in its operations. Recently, Grant For the Web has successfully created a system that promotes openness and independence in data distribution and monetization of content adding value to all parties involved. Initially, users of Ushahidi across the globe amplify their voices to support their communities in addressing certain social issues. Therefore, Ushahidi has expanded using this system to create room for donations through which individuals from across the world can support financially to any area of their choice. This could include election, justice, health matters, gender-based violence and so on.
In recognition of her positive impact as an award-winning social entrepreneur, Juliana Rotich is one of the jury members for the E-Mobility Innovation Call 2021 organized by Siemens Stiftung for African entrepreneurs with innovative e-mobility solutions and circular economy approaches. This is the first of its kind: “Electric Mobility Made in Africa for Africa.”
For fostering democracy, peace, human rights, art, culture, the social market economy and social concerns, she was honored by German Africa Foundation in 2019.
By Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.