1. Can you introduce yourself?
I am Salissou Hassane Latifa, a young entrepreneur in the field of ICT, Miss Geek Africa 2018, digital ambassador in Niger and member of several community associations. I am passionate about all things, humanism, ICT, empowerment of women.
2. What is your academic background?
I am a Masters2 student in Software Engineering at the Ecole Supérieure de Télécommunications du Niger. My Bachelor’s degree is in Software Engineering and I have a scientific Junior High School Degree.
3. How did you integrate the world of new technologies and the development of mobile applications?
After my Junior High School Degree, I wanted to study medicine, which was my dream, but the length of the course discouraged me. Driven by the family, I turned to the world of programming. “It is a promising area,” I was told. I was not convinced, but as there was pressure from the family, I let myself go, by sitting for a competition at the Higher School of Telecommunications of Niger where I was admitted. We were only five girls out of 39 students in the room. I heard people everywhere say that programming is for men and not for women. So I made this a personal challenge. I had to show that girls have their place and that they could do better than men, which has led me over the years to love ICT and persevere in this direction.
4. What is it that led you to deal with the problem of road safety and road accidents and to develop the Saro App?
My dream, which was medicine, is to save lives, to have this feeling of being able to help people who need it. These are the things that pushed me to deal with this problem. In Niger, there are too many accidents, people who lose limbs, even their life, because they do not receive first aid in time. It was then necessary for me to use my training, which is programming, to make that dream come true, that of saving lives and to help my community, which needs it so much.
5. What was your reaction when your name was announced as the winner of Miss Geek Africa 2018 and how did you experience this?
I had a feeling of joy and pride, for me and for my country. I had the idea of the project since 2016. I had participated in two competitions in 2016 and in 2018 with this same project. Although these attempts were not successful, the comments of the members of the jury and of my relatives allowed me to improve my initial idea and to take up the challenge and prove wrong those who did not believe in the project, and this finally paid off.
Also a sense of pride, because before I flew to the Miss Geek Africa competition, our Minister, Adviser to the President and CEO of ANSI, Mr. Guimba Saidou, had welcomed me and his advice was, “You do not go there to win. We are already proud of you because you have been selected to represent the country”. This advice gave me so much confidence and now that I have won, imagine my joy and my pride.
6. How, in your opinion, can girls and young women in Africa be helped to integrate ICT and STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering)?
As I have always said, we should invite these girls and women to love this domain. We must inspire them through role models, show them the wonders that ICT can bring to their community by touching their hearts, because they are quite sensitive and it can arouse their interest. It is not enough to say that girls do not care: we must encourage them to take an interest in ICTs and STEMs.
7. What are your future plans, for your app?
My future plans are to be able to implement this app beyond the borders of Niger and beyond Africa, because it is a necessity. Many people lose their lives because of the time rescuers take to intervene or because of the lack of first aid.