“What these girls just did will motivate millions of young people in Nigeria. It shows that in spite of all the challenges we have as a nation, you can still achieve breakthroughs and amazing feats if only you push and dedicate yourself to it,” she told This is Africa.

“This is a big motivation for me and other young people, especially those still in high school,” said John Chukwu, a communications scholar at the University of Nigeria. “The app they developed will go a long way in addressing so many issues with fake drugs in Nigeria.”

Chukwu added that the government needed to invest more in this team of girls to enable them to develop their talent and potential fully. “They should not be left like that, but sponsored to compete in other international competitions such as this as a way of developing their potential and abilities further. Facilities should also be provided for them to upgrade on what they already know.”

“The government, investors, companies and organisations should support these girls with scholarships as a way of motivating them, because they won this for Nigeria and Africa. They should also be given all the protection they need, like intellectual property rights. Register them as a company and invite professionals to push them forward,” Okoli said.

Rising hopes

Industry experts and observers believe that there is ‘rising hope’ for Nigeria and indeed Africa in building a new generation of young tech experts and techpreneurs whose innovation and ingenuity can spur the continent to greater heights, posing a threat and competition to Western domination in the tech world.

This is coming to fruition, not just with the recent achievements of the five Nigerian girls, but with the overwhelming level of tech strides and tech activities going on in the country and the continent at large.

For example, back in May, four Nigerian pupils from White Sands School, Lekki, Lagos, represented Africa at a tech competition, the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge in Florida, USA. Here they joined their peers from other parts of the world to develop a marketable and innovative idea that can solve a real-world problem by using science, technology, engineering and mathematics principles. At the end of the competition, the Nigerian team were declared winners in the Smoke-Free World category. The students had developed an app that can help build a relationship between tobacco farmers and companies and, at the same time, encourage the positive and beneficial use of tobacco.

Similarly, a team of three young Nigerians won gold at the 2018 World Adolescent Robotics competition in China. The team, which is made up of a male and two females, had been invited by the China Association of Science and Technology to represent Nigeria at the 18thedition of the event, which focussed on resolving the water problem around the world.

In Nigeria, Summer of Code is sometimes organised to train young people in programming, software and tech designs. Not too long ago, Youth for Technology (YTF) held its annual 3D Africa HackforGood event. Described as “an innovation accelerator for students, entrepreneurs and creatives”, it hosted a design and prototyping challenge at the University of Lagos.

The organisers said the goal of the event is to provide African youth with the opportunity to create the world’s next best innovation – transforming the mindset and continent’s narrative from “Aid to Africa, to Made in Africa.”

For three days, 50 young hackers from across Nigeria, comprising students, recent graduates and early-stage entrepreneurs, were given access to cutting-edge technology, mentoring and instruction to develop functional prototypes to address issues in their communities.

The participants, divided into eight teams, conceived ideas and developed prototypes to solve problems in specific sectors – health, agriculture, security and transportation – with the help of a 3D printer. These prototypes were pitched to a jury and judged on the criteria of impact, technology, marketability and collaboration in terms of teamwork and the pitch.

At the end of the event, Team Rex, which created the Smart Pathfinder for the blind, an obstacle detecting device that works with Bluetooth, emerged champions, winning prize money of US$1 500. Team Rex hopes that the device can be modified in the future to include a GPS tracker and be voice automated.

The 3D Africa HackforGood is the only fourth industrial revolution technology platform that is built on a collaboration between the private sector, academia and civil society.

The 3D Africa HackforGood is the only fourth industrial revolution technology platform that is built on a collaboration between the private sector, academia and civil society. This threefold relationship places YTF in a position to deliver hands-on-experience with relevant technology and teach skills linked directly to industry needs and demands.

In this spirit, the girls from Team Save a Soul will be hoping to break more records and set new ones while aspiring to revolutionise the tech world with their future innovations.“Leveraging technology to save lives is our utmost priority,” Nigeria’s “golden girls” have confirmed.