Engineer Thérèse Izay invented androids to regulate traffic. Now it rolls in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. And soon maybe on the whole continent…

Any visitor passing through Kinshasa and Lubumbashi is struck by the spectacle of the robots that regulate traffic. Each android, stuffed with electronic components, equipped with cameras and equipped with solar panels, measures 2.50 m in height and weighs 250 kg. Engineer Thérèse Izay Kirongozi, 42, project manager of the “intelligent rolling robot” and director of Women’s Technologies, is the “mother” of these fully designed and manufactured automata in Kinshasa. The former association, which changed into a company in 2012, employs ten people full time and several others part time to design and manufacture these technological giants 100% “made in Kin”.

Thérèse Izay is herself a pure product of the Congolese school. She did all her schooling in Kinshasa, her hometown, before beginning, without enthusiasm, studying at the Higher Institute of Applied Techniques (Ista). Nothing predestined her for a career as an inventor and entrepreneur.

Do you want to seize business opportunities in Africa? http://www.afrikatech.com/fr/entreprendre/sondage-investir-dans-startups

Engineer rather than model

As a teenager, the young and already tall Kinoise (1.93 m) caught the eye of a model recruitment agency, which in 1993, when she had barely celebrated her 20th birthday, made her sparkle the hope of a cozy existence in Switzerland, punctuated by fashion shows, photo shoots around the world, wonderful contracts, etc. Like so many empty promises. “My father enrolled me in Ista when I wanted to continue my studies in Europe, in another field. I thought, wrongly, that industrial electronics was not for me. However, over the months, I got a taste for it. She graduated from Ista in 1999, with a technical engineer diploma in industrial electronics (automation-programming).

Authorities had a hard time getting used to the idea that these automata, made here using 100% Congolese technology, could meet the needs of a sprawling city like Kinshasa

The engineer does not regret having missed the rhinestones and glitter. She is known. Her work is recognized in Africa as in Europe, where she is frequently invited to conferences. “I put my own funds into this business, with the support of my husband. At first, I rowed … We ourselves maintained the prototypes installed in Kinshasa, remembers Thérèse Izay, her face lit up with a broad smile. Authorities have struggled to get the idea that these automata, made here using 100% Congolese technology, could meet the needs of a sprawling city like Kinshasa. ”

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  • Mali: 80 children in computer and robotics school by N’tomo Innovation Academy
  • Souleymane Touré, the man who wants to create a robot made in Senegal

Robots soon in other countries of the continent

After two prototypes installed in 2013, three “new generation” robots were delivered to the capital in March, and five to the Katangese authorities, including three in Lubumbashi. The sale price of a unit is around 25,000 dollars (around 22,000 euros) and varies according to the autonomy of its solar panels.

Society does not fall asleep on its laurels; the company is growing and evolving its technology. “The robot sends the images filmed by its cameras to the police in real time. We are using a radio beam, but ultimately we will switch to fiber optics. The transmission of the images will be done much faster ”, specifies the project manager.

Angola, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria are interested. When will the first humanoid agents made in DR Congo be present in these countries?

Several other Congolese cities want to acquire these machines. And Women’s Technologies also intends to export them. Angola, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria are interested. When will the first humanoid agents made in DR Congo be present in these countries? “The talks are very advanced,” said the business manager.

Married and mother of three, Thérèse Izay does not regret staying in the country. If her ministerial calendar doesn’t give her time to cook, she loves to eat in Kinshasa. For her, nothing beats a dish of beans accompanied by mpiodi (horse mackerel) and fufu (dough made from cassava or corn). After a day of work, the engineer also likes to listen to music “at the bottom”, driving her Range Rover. Funk songs, old Congolese hits, including Papa Wemba’s classics, which capsize her with happiness… Almost as much as seeing her youngest daughter start a great singing career.

Do you want to seize business opportunities in Africa? http://www.afrikatech.com/fr/entreprendre/sondage-investir-dans-startups

About The Author

CEO AfrikaTech

Comme beaucoup de personnes j’ai connu l’Afrique à travers des stéréotypes : l’Afrique est pauvre, il y a la guerre, famine… Je suis devenu entrepreneur pour briser ces clichés et participer à la construction du continent. J’ai lancé plusieurs entreprises dont Kareea (Formation et développement web), Tutorys (Plate-forme de e-learning), AfrikanFunding (Plate-forme de crowdfunding). Après un échec sur ma startup Tutorys, à cause d’une mauvaise exécution Business, un manque de réseau, pas de mentor, je suis parti 6 mois en immersion dans l’écosystème Tech au Sénégal. J’ai rencontré de nombreux entrepreneurs passionnés, talentueux et déterminés. A mon retour sur Paris je décide de raconter leur histoire en créant le média AfrikaTech. L'objectif est de soutenir les entrepreneurs qui se battent quotidiennement en Afrique en leur offrant la visibilité, les connaissances, le réseautage et les capitaux nécessaires pour réussir. L'Afrique de demain se construit aujourd'hui ensemble. Rejoignez-nous ! LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/boubacardiallo

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