From rural boy to global software developer

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The Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, columnist
COMING from a rural background, computer scientist, Mr. Ntokozo Ncube has succeeded in defying the odds thanks to the development of software and applications that are used in several countries around the world.

His Sadc Open Internet Education Project (SOIEP) app, which he developed as part of the Internet Society of Zimbabwe, now has more than 12,000 users in 12 African countries.

SOIEP is an open online learning platform that allows students to learn offline using content from teachers. It allows students to access e-learning content at an affordable cost and also allows learners to receive educational content via SMS. It targets review classes.

Mr. Ncube has also developed a platform known as Enkonzweni which is a church management application. It helps churches keep track of their records, finances, budgets, and events.

He also developed E Solusi which helps in the management of universities. Among other things, E Solusi allows students to interact with banks and attend classes online using the free app.

For the apps he develops for his employer, he receives a salary, and for his personal apps like Enkonzweni, users pay a subscription. It charges the institutions and organizations for which it develops applications.

Recently, Mr. Ncube was one of the lead developers of the Digital Education Empowerment Program (DEEP) which is being implemented in Matabeleland North and South.

DEEP is an education empowerment platform that allows schools to share educational content and access the Internet through a local network.

Users can search for content and access content in local languages. Schools connected to the server can upload educational content to the platform.

Mzansi Express

Mr Ncube said his other innovations include booking apps for Mzansi Express and Revival Motorways.

He has also developed student management systems for Bulawayo Adventist High School and Zambian schools and colleges, among other applications.

Growing up in his rural home in the Mbizingwe region of Umzingwane, Mr Ncube said he had always aspired to be a teacher. He attended Mbizingwe Primary School and Nsezi Secondary School.

He said when he moved to Bulawayo after finishing high school, he realized there were many career options he could explore.

“I grew up in a rural environment and my daily routine consisted of going to school and doing routine chores such as herding cattle, fetching firewood and working in the fields. The only professional people I could see were the teachers teaching us, hence my aspiration to become a teacher,” he said.

“When I moved to town after finishing high school, I developed a taste for computers. I didn’t go to A level so I managed to get into Solusi University using a mature entry when I was 25. The longer I worked as a programmer, the more I wanted to develop content and learning platforms that could be accessible even to the rural child and broaden the reach of that child.

Solusi University

Mr Ncube, who is employed as an Information and Communication Technology Officer at Solusi University and an Infrastructure and Technology Officer under the Internet Society Zimbabwe Chapter, said that he had the idea of ​​developing SOIEP after the learning process was disrupted by Covid-19. pandemic.

“I knew some students would have difficulty accessing online courses because of the data,” Ncube said.

“Some children, especially in rural areas, live with guardians who don’t have smartphones. I then imagined the application that allows you to continue learning by SMS or USSD. The platform allows downloading content and learning offline. »

Mr Ncube said he initially developed the platform for Zimbabwean, South African and Zambian learners, but once it went live people from other countries started subscribing .

He said that as part of the app, teachers upload content for exam courses and students sign up and start learning.

Mr Ncube said teachers are paid to upload content for learners.

He said he developed the Enkonzweni platform to provide churches with an easier way to manage their churches.

“Another application that is my brainchild is E Solusi. It is an environment where students can interact with banks, make payments, register for courses, access their results online. It allows them to receive University communications via online courses SMS and WhatsApp using a free app unlike Zoom. Other institutions have developed an interest in the platform and we have shared it with them. The apps I “I’ve developed are available on GitHub. Normally when I develop an app, I make it open for people to download and use. I see a number of people using my apps,” he said. he declares.

Mr Ncube said a number of countries were using his apps, including Mauritius, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, the Netherlands and Iceland.

Mr. Ncube said he has a passion for education and that the country must be rich in education not just in terms of literacy, but education that will enable graduates to implement and apply solutions to communities and effect change.

He said a number of schools have computers and need content and products on gadgets that edify learners.

Mr. Ncube said he was inspired by developing software from problems.

Computer-Image from Shutterstock

He said that after identifying a problem, he performs a needs analysis in which he identifies what is needed to solve the problem and the desired outcome.

“In software development, the goal is to find a way to do things easier, faster, and better, and then from there you do the coding. You need to create a requirements analysis document that you shows exactly what you need to do It acts like a roadmap – it shows deliverables, how the system works, what platforms are needed, and other issues When developing the system, you also need to figure out who in will benefit, and then decide whether your system will be web-based or mobile-based based on the gadgets users have,” he said.

In 2010, Mr. Ncube graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Science and Information Management Systems from Solusi University.

He went on to earn a Masters in Business Administration from Solusi University and a Masters of Science in Computer Science from the National University of Science and Technology.

In 2018, he obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in Cybersecurity from the National Institute of Technical Teacher Training and Research (NITTTR) in Chennai, India. – @DubeMatutu.

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