Panashe Jere, computer programmer, won TNM’s Smart Kid Challenge in 2016 at only the age of 10.
Panashe has, alike kids in his generation, a weakness for all manner of electronic gadgets, being hugely drawn to computer games, puzzles – applications of various forms. Fearing the likelihood of experimentation with computers at home, with potential for irreversible alterations that would set his parents back a few computers, his parents enrolled him at mHub in Lilongwe in a bid to cram his faculties with more orderly and proper interface with soft and hardware computing systems. mHub is an incubator for technology startups with a special focus on building young technology entrepreneurs through training, skills development and mentorship. At mHub, Panashe was interested in a kids’ coding practice where, after a few months of coding sessions, he qualified for the TNM Smart Kid Challenge Category of the TNM Smart Competition.
The TNM Smart Challenge Competition is a private sector sponsored contest seeking to find the best mobile app developer in Malawi, bankrolled by the second largest mobile operator in Malawi, Telekom Networks Malawi Limited. The challenge targets young people aspiring to become innovative problem solvers. The larger scope of the competition also features Smart Student, which explores mobile application development among secondary school students and Smart Community, which receives bids from communities that have supported and facilitated mobile technology-based solutions development. In 2016, the finest mobile application developers from the Smart Kid and Smart Student Challenges would have the opportunity to win a trip to the tech capital of the world, Silicon Valley, United States of America.
Winning the Smart Kid Challenge
An app called “Talk to me” became Panashe’s winning formula for the Smart Kid Challenge, which would soon become the talk of the tech communities in Malawi and in the world. The app intelligently converts inputted text on mobile devices into a voice output for children to allow children to continuously have someone to talk to, particularly useful for children with limited writing (or texting) capabilities.
TNM delivered its promise, making Panashe – a 10-year old boy from one of the world’s poorest countries – the youngest technician at the 2016 Facebook Annual Developers Conference (F8) in Silicon Valley, California. This trip culminated in visits at Google and one of America’s finest universities on the West Coast, Stanford University. On arrival at the F8 Conference, this young Malawian representative was met and congratulated personally by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, and Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg in recognition of this living phenomenon in young Panashe.
Zuckerberg soon posted a picture of his encounter with Malawi’s young genius, appropriately painting it with the now famous quote, “This guy started coding earlier than I did!”
On returning home, Panache’s magnanimous achievements were featured on a Zodiak TV Documentary, which included interviews with his parents and his school, featuring him in business-as-usual lifestyle in his class at Christian Heritage School.
Meanwhile, Panashe continues to code at mHub and is partaking with other children in various projects in which he finesses the development of mobile applications.
Panashe was born on August 1st, 2005 to Chimwemwe Alexander and Lynda Winiwa Ndovie Jere. Born at Blantyre Adventist Hospital, he has been raised part with his grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Grey Ganizani Ndovi, in Blantyre. Panashe still undergoes primary education, reading Grade 6, at Christian Heritage Baptist School after transferring from Walani Private School where he read Grades 1 to 4.
His baby brother, Ulunji David, has so much to learn from this youthful, yet genius big brother.