How Tanzanian Youth Are Using Technology to Make a Difference: The Open Skies Fellowship

OpenMap Development Tanzania
5 min readNov 6, 2023

Written by Aisha Hamisi

In 2021, OMDTZ announced the start of the Open Skies Fellowship program, funded by Fondation Botnar and implemented by OpenMap Development Tanzania (OMDTZ), Uhurulabs, and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) consortium.

The program was implemented in three countries: Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The program had a total of 6 cohorts: three from Tanzania, two from Rwanda, and one from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

All the fellows were selected by the tech workshop that was conducted in a particular country. The workshops were a strategy to observe how the youth learn about problem-solving skills, communication skills, ability to teach others, taking leadership roles, risk management, etc.

This blog will highlight the projects that were conducted by the second and third cohort fellows in Tanzania. There is a blog that highlights the first cohort projects. If you are interested, you can read it by clicking on this title: Open S1kies Fellows: African Tech for African Data — Starting Small, Learning, and Scaling

In both the second and third cohorts, there are 12 projects, all of which serve a purpose in our society, whether it is climate change issues, education, finance, energy issues, agriculture, or afforestation and deforestation issues.

Drone-related projects

In the second cohort, 4 of the 12 projects were based on Drone technology and how it can be used for multiple purposes. Tukupala Mwalyolo and Simon Mtambo who was the only apprentice, developed a drone with a pesticide spraying mechanism that will help farmers grow healthy crops and also take care of their health since traditional pesticide spray is harmful to their health. Francis Mutalemwa developed a fire extinguisher drone that will help firefighters respond faster to fire and also go to places where firefighters cannot reach to extinguish fire faster. Lastly is Faidha Hussein who developed a drone with a delivery mechanism that can deliver medicine, especially to rural areas with bad road infrastructure to help reduce the number of patients who die on the way to get treatments.

Apps and website-related projects

Two fellows worked on an app and website-based project in which they designed applications that can be used by specific groups of people in society. starting with Scholastica Milanzi who created a mobile app that connects farmers with their buyers. This application is for first-time farmers who are interested in agriculture. The mobile application known as the Shamba Huru app is currently available in the platform’s Play Store. Then Neema Adam created an e-commerce platform that enables digital creators to set up micro-stores to showcase their products, manage orders and customer information, create promotions, and integrate digital marketing tools like Google Ads to help grow their businesses.

Digital Incinerator of Non-Biodegradables

Tarsila Mellita created a digital incinerator that will help students burn pads in school so that students do not waste time burning pads during study hours, according to a study. Girls in boarding schools spend more than 2% of their study time getting rid of their sanitary pads, while girls who do this at home pollute the land, water, and air. So this incinerator will solve the climate change problem and help girls focus on their studies.

An offline water management & monitoring device for irrigation agriculture

Shedrack Mkwepu decided to name his device N-Switch. This device will allow farmers to irrigate their farms while they’re not around, and they will get all the information with their mobile phones. The device does not require an internet connection to communicate or collect data; instead, it communicates with the phone and shares the collected data offline.

Patient records electronic gateway

This is the only project in the second cohort that is based on the health sector. Hawa Msoma created the PREG API, which is currently being tested with several private systems to enable smooth communication. Cross-border, linguistic, and technological in Tanzanian hospitals. That allows clinicians to access the patient’s prior facility’s medical information

A Virtual reality classroom

Students are studying more theory than practicals due to insufficient funding and a lack of lab equipment. This is due to the need for expensive tools or a specific environment for some experiments, such as microbiology, quantum physics, and nuclear reactions. So Wilbroad Nyirenda made a virtual reality classroom that students can use to do experiments and study science subjects without being in laboratories.

A forest poaching detector

This is a one-of-a-kind project created by Frank Maro in which he developed a device (the Forest Poaching Detector) that would alert forest guards to the sound of chainsaws being used by poachers, allowing them to track down the poachers and apprehend them before any lasting damage to the forest could be done.

Repurposing of laptop batteries to produce lithium-ion battery

Lack of access to electricity has a significant impact on the quality of life for people living in these areas, limiting their ability to improve their livelihoods and participate fully in the economy. In addition, many rural households in Tanzania rely on kerosene lamps as their primary source of lighting, which not only exposes them to health hazards but also increases their costs for energy, and negatively impacts the environment. To address this problem, Gibson Kawago developed a project that aims to provide clean and affordable energy to low-income rural communities in Tanzania. Through recycling laptop batteries and creating jobs for local women and youth, WAGA is working to improve living standards.

A mineral discovery engine

Nyika Venture is a group of five youth from the third cohort of Open Skies Tanzania, who came together to build a mineral discovery engine, a system of key processes and technologies that bring precision, efficiency, and scalability to critical mineral exploration. With their promising and accurate AI-driven prospect detection, drone modular hardware, and streamlined operations, Nyika Venture can move from detecting a prospect to digital drilling in just three to years.

The program has reached 25% of the country, which makes us believe there are many youth who have yet to show their innovative ideas left in 75% of the country. Also, one of our biggest achievements was female empowerment in technology 57% of the fellows were female, and 43% were male. We will continue to be the flagship to carry on these fellows’ ideas in order to inspire other youth to love and be the champions of Innovation and Technology

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OpenMap Development Tanzania

Open-source tech & geodata for managing & solving community's socio-economic and humanitarian challenges