CMU-Africa alumnus Davy Uwizera (E’17) is the Facebook Developer Circle Lead in Kigali, Rwanda. He formed the first Rwandan Developer Circle in August 2017. Early in October, he was selected among the 20 most active leads in Africa to travel to Nairobi for training and also to attend the first TechCrunch Startup Battlefield in Africa.
We caught up with him to learn more about his trip to Nairobi and the Kigali Facebook developer circle.
- How did you get involved with the FB Developers circle?
It all started at the bot party and hackathon organized by Facebook and CMU-Africa in March this year. Myself and Joshua Ocero (MSIT’17) emerged as the runner ups of the hackathon. We developed a bot that could connect farmers (or cooperatives) and buyers to sell or purchase produce while estimating a market price based on the bot interaction. Together with the winners of the hackathon, we traveled to San Jose, California to attend the Facebook Developer Conference F8 in April. After coming back to Rwanda, I had the opportunity to begin the Developer Circle and the rest is history.
- Who did you interact with at the Facebook event in Nairobi and what were some of the key take-aways from the event?
I had the chance to meet with the VP of Facebook partnerships, the head of Facebook Developer Circle program at Facebook, the product partnership team and the sales team. There was so much to learn, but what stuck with me is the realization that Africa is the next frontier for innovation and that we as Africans are uniquely positioned to lead this revolution.
- How did you get to attend TechCrunch Startup Battlefield in Africa?
This was the first time TechCrunch Battlefield was hosted in Africa. It gives viable start-ups a platform to share their ideas to the world and to pitch in front of major investors. Facebook was one of the partners organizing the event and that is how I got invited.
- What was the most exciting thing about being at TechCrunch Battlefield?
The energy and the quality of ideas from African founders was out of this world! I caught a glimpse of Africa’s future. There is going to be a great economic tech boom on the continent in the not-so-distant future.
- How has CMU-Africa played a part in exposing you to such opportunities?
It is because of CMU that I have had access to such events and had the opportunity to meet and speak with people such as the VP of Facebook Messenger! My tech skills are strongly based on the knowledge I acquired from CMU and it was really exciting for me to see what I could do in the real world with what I had learnt in class. All through one’s studies at CMU-Africa, about 40% of the time is spent interfacing with industry and so by the time one graduates, they have a lot of experience under their belt.
- What’s in the pipeline for the Kigali developer’s circle?
We have a vision of Kigali being recognized as a city where world class tech skills can be found. We are working on some exciting projects and growing quite rapidly. One of the things we are doing is launching Developer Circles in Rwandan universities and equipping the undergrad students with hands-on experience. The hope is that they will develop some of the projects we are working on with them into start-ups that could benefit them.