A team of five Nigerian teenagers have done the country proud, as they won one of the major tech awards in California.
Despite the limited knowledge of Technology related stuff in the country, Jessica Osita alongside her team members jostled with top contenders around the world.
The group of teenagers identified as Save-A-Soul includes – Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye. They were said to have spent five months researching on what will combat the sale of counterfeit products in the country.
The Nigerian teenagers beat other teams from US, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and China in the finals to secure the top spot in the junior category at the competition.
The teenagers triumphed over others having built an app called FD-Detector.
FD-Detector helps users identify fake medicines using a drug’s barcode to verify its authenticity and expiration date.
In order to effects their invention, the teenager will partner with Nigeria’s drug regulatory agency.
The Nigerian teens got to know how to build the mobile app from scratch by using open source software from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“I feel very excited and relieved. I’m extremely proud of myself,” Osita, 15, tells CNN from San Francisco, in the group’s first interview since they won the 2018 Technovation Challenge.
Osita got involved in the project for more personal reasons. She had lost her brother after fake drugs were administered to him.
“My brother died from fake drugs. I’m very motivated by the death of my brother to solve this problem,” she says. “With this app, we will relieve the burden. I feel very excited.”
One of Osita teammates Promise Nnalue, 14, tells CNN: “People are calling us celebrities and taking pictures with us. I’m very happy. We could not have done this without our mentor. She really believed in us and encouraged us.”
Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye — spent five months researching and building the app and hope it can be a solution to the widespread sale of counterfeit drugs in Nigeria
One Uchenna Ugwu whom the teenagers acknowledged for mentoring them, no doubt impacted well in them.
Ugwu was the one who introduced the teenagers to computers and coding through her Edufun Technik organization, which teaches STEM to underprivileged children in Anambra State, southeastern Nigeria.
Ugwu says her organization has taught approximately 4,800 school children since 2014 — over 60% of whom have been young girls — as a means of closing the widening gender gap in STEM education.
Ugwu says, “The next thing is to use this moment to inspire more girls. How do we leverage on this to build our nation? How do we inspire other girls to start thinking about solutions to our problems? We need to let young people know that they are the solutions to their problems if we do that Nigeria will be better.”