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"Sheba Valley", the Ethiopian equivalent of "Silicon Valley", is taken by a storm named Betelhem Dessie, who is an Ethiopian web and mobile technologies developer, and also, a coding genius.
She has turned 21 this year; however, her young age hasn't stopped her from accomplishing amazing feats. As of now, Dessie is coordinating a number of programs run by robotics lab iCog, the Addis Ababa based artificial intelligence lab that was behind the development of world-famous Sophia the robot.
I have a really deep connection with Ethiopia because part of my AI was developed there by iCog Labs in Addis Ababa. They are amazing! You should check them out! @icoglabs#AskSophiahttps://t.co/0xZD5QB6mG— Sophia the Robot (@RealSophiaRobot) November 1, 2018
She has four software programs copyrighted solely to her name, which one of them she coded only at 10 years old.
Meet Betelhem Dessie, Project Manager for Anyone Can Code at iCog in Addis Ababa and Sophia, Hanson Robotics’ most well-known robot. #Women in sciences, technology and artificial intelligence. @ChevrierAntoinepic.twitter.com/DZCWCFrJAU
— Canada in Ethiopia (@CanadaEthiopia) January 29, 2019
Her dance with science started when she was just 9 when she asked for money from his father to celebrate her birthday, who didn’t have any money to give her, to begin with. She decided to take matters into her hands.
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She started editing videos and sending music to customers’ cell phones in her father’s electronics shop. From there, she started handling computer maintenance and installing software which resulted in a big appetite for anything tech and coding related.
She is currently studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology; however, she has already undertaken projects such as Anyone Can Code, The Remus, Girls Can Code, and numerous others.
At 19-years-old, #BetelhemDessie is perhaps the youngest pioneer in #Ethiopia 's fast emerging tech scene, sometimes referred to as ' #ShebaValley '.#Africa#MNApic.twitter.com/O4Y1tA91mM— M N A (@mnaEN) October 13, 2018
Moreover, she was present during the development of Sophia the robot in iCog Labs. Sophia the robot is the product of a collaborative effort between a team of developers from Ethiopia and a Hond Kong-based robotics company known as Hanson Robotics.
It should also be noted that Sophia the robot was partly-assembled in Ethiopia.
Currently, Dessie is the lead of the Solve-IT project where she works with young people to uncover innovative, technological solutions to some of the problems faced by their respective communities.
She is guiding young Ethiopians by providing technical and theoretical training courses on software, hardware, and marketing. She wants to move forward with her works with Sophia the robot and her numerous projects and continue to inspire the next generation of African coders, especially girls.
Moreover, she has recently shared a LinkedIn post containing her course, book, and activities recommendations during the quarantine. They are just as inspiring as her life story, so you might want to check them out.