Women in Tech Series: Leveraging technology for the development of South Sudan
The Women in Tech series puts the spotlight on women who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital innovations across UNDP. By sharing these inspiring individual stories, we hope to encourage others to choose this path and spur gender equality in the digital sector.
UNDP South Sudan ICT Assistant Juan Jane Andruga joined UNDP seven years ago, bringing a unique perspective on technology that has contributed to the development of South Sudan, UNDP’s mission, and is helping encourage more women in her country to pursue careers in technology. Today, she has made a name for herself in an industry where women are underrepresented due to social, economic, and cultural factors in her country.
Jane has always been passionate about development. During her time at the Ugandan Nkumba University, where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Information and Technology, she was part of a student organization that sought to improve the local community. “Our group will plant trees and clean boreholes in the community to ensure clean water, road works and other small developmental activities,” Jane explained.
Upon graduating in 2011, Jane landed her first IT position as an ICT Assistant at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in South Sudan. In addition to helping set up the IT infrastructure for IOM offices in the country, she supported the deployment of the IOM border management system, an application for capturing information from passports and national ID cards.
Her passion for supporting the community, along with her IT knowledge, caused her to explore opportunities that would allow her to combine her technical skills with her desire to help others. This saw her join UNDP in 2014 as an ICT Assistant with UNDP South Sudan.
Jane’s role involves supporting Country Office (CO) operations and assisting colleagues with UNDP corporate applications, maintaining and troubleshooting the Office’s hardware, software, and network systems, and facilitating training on IT-related issues for CO colleagues.
“Keeping the CO’s network up and running is also one of the most critical aspects of my job. It is like the organization’s brain; if the internet is down, we cannot operate. Additionally, I handle backups for all documentation on the cloud and ensure all our colleagues use OneDrive for Business to store their documents”, Jane highlighted.
Her interest in development and giving back to the community in 2022 was further fueled when she was involved in the UNDP Smart Facilities for Health project in partnership with the Global Fund to strengthen the health infrastructure of 27 health facilities in South Sudan. “I supported technical site and solar survey assessments and deployed Internet of Things (IoT) technology to enable remote monitoring of the solar panels,” she explained. As part of the project, she also commissioned and currently monitors three health facilities in Juba with the support of the UNDP Green Energy Team.
Through this and other projects, Jane saw firsthand how leveraging technology can positively impact people’s lives. She was committed to going the extra mile, with her passion well-recognized by her colleagues:
“Over the past six years, I have trained more than 100 current and former UN personnel on solar engineering aspects, and Jane’s skills and motivation are remarkable. She learned and replicated solar engineering tasks with impressive ease outside her expected deliverables and expertise. In addition, her eagerness to learn and engage in topics/aspects outside her field was impressive,” reflected UNDP Green Energy Specialist Marcela Trevino.
Similarly, UNDP South Sudan ICT Specialist Jackton Okinyi Muga said, “I have watched Jane’s ICT knowledge exponentially grow. From simple support tasks or more complex assignments including configurations, analyses, and most recently, technical assessments on solar energy.”
Jane is proud of her work at UNDP South Sudan and is committed to continual learning and personal and professional growth, as demonstrated by the fact that she is currently pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration at the Uganda University of Nkumba.
As a mother of three, attending MBA lectures and juggling work as the only woman in the team, Jane is no stranger to the challenges of overcoming gender-based barriers and explained how in South Sudan, it still surprises people to see women in technical roles. To increase women’s representation, Jane provides individual mentorship and monthly career guidance in universities as part of the Juba ICT Forum to encourage and support women in their professional development.
Jane believes through education, training and support, women can be empowered to pursue careers in tech and contribute to the development of the country, “I hope my story inspires many young women who aspired to work in the tech industry and serves as a reminder that with determination and a passion for what you do, anything is possible.”