Betelhem Dessie

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Betelhem Dessie
Betty speaking1.jpg
Betelhem giving a talk at Africa Science week in December, 2018
OccupationSoftware Developer

Betelhem Dessie (Amharic: ቤተልሔም ደሴ; born in 1999) is an Ethiopian web and mobile technologies developer.[1] She is currently a Founder and CEO of iCog- Anyone Can Code (ACC). She owns four patented projects individually and an additional three in collaboration.[1] Betelhem has been named "the youngest pioneer in Ethiopia's fast emerging tech scene" by CNN.[2]

Early life[edit]

Betelhem was born and raised in Harar, Ethiopia. Betelhem's career started at the age of nine. She notes that her father has been one of the biggest supporters of her ambition. Betelhem was able to become familiar with computers by using her father's computer at his electronic shop. In her interview with the Ethiopian digital news platform Addis Insight, Betelhem tells a story of how she asked her father for money to celebrate her 9th birthday.[3] Her father replied that he did not have money because he was busy with work. In response, Betelhem decided to work in his electronic shop and make the money herself. She made 1600 Ethiopian birr by sending customers audio and video files.[3] After this incident, her interest in computers gained momentum. She improved her skills in video-editing, computer maintenance, and installing cellphone software. By the age of ten, Betelhem had started coding in HTML by herself. Alongside her regular school work, she taught basic computer skills to her classmates from school.


Betelhem Dessie got government recognition for her work in her community at an early age. Consequently, she was interviewed by multiple local and national media platforms.[3] After moving from Harar to Addis Ababa with her parents, Betelhem was employed as a developer for the government at the age of twelve by the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency (INSA)[4] from 2011 to 2012.

Betelhem Dessie is the founder and CEO of Anyone Can Code (ACC).[5] ACC is done in collaboration with iCog Labs,[6] an Ethiopian research and development company that focuses on Artificial Intelligence. It trains children aged six to thirteen on topics ranging from robotics and AI to programming.[7] Another program Betelhem works on in iCog Labs is Solve IT. She works with more than eighty young people to find solutions to society's problems using technology.[8] She has also trained forty girls from Girls Can Code, a United States Embassy project.[9] Among previous software programming projects attributed to her is an application that maps irrigation projects in Ethiopia. It was developed for use in government.[10]

In 2018, Betelhem was a third year Software Engineering student at Addis Ababa University.[3] She was recently named one of the young African innovators to watch in 2019 by Quartz Africa.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Betelhem Dessie: The 19-year-old tech genius behind Ethiopia's first AI lab". EthiopiaOnline. 2018-10-11. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  2. ^ CNN, Alice McCool and Thomas Lewton, for. "Meet the female tech genius coding at Ethiopia's first AI lab". CNN. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  3. ^ a b c d ADDIS INSIGHT (2017-04-01), Bethelem Dessie 17 Year Old Coder, retrieved 2018-10-23
  4. ^ "መግቢያ - Information Network Security Agency". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  5. ^ "IT enthusiasts form coding academy | The Reporter Ethiopia English". Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  6. ^ "iCog Labs". iCog Labs. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  7. ^ Brady, Michael (1984), "Artificial Intelligence and Robotics", Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, pp. 47–63, doi:10.1007/978-3-642-82153-0_2, ISBN 9783642821554
  8. ^ Andafta (2018-10-18), Ethiopia: አለምን እያነጋገረች ያለችው የአፍሪካዋ የሶፍትዌር ንግስት-ቤቴልሄም ደሴ!!, retrieved 2018-10-23
  9. ^ "Meet Betelhem Dessie, Ethiopia's youngest tech Queen - This Is Africa". This Is Africa. 2018-10-12. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  10. ^ CNN, Alice McCool and Thomas Lewton, for. "Meet the female tech genius coding at Ethiopia's first AI lab". CNN. Retrieved 2018-10-23.
  11. ^ Kazeem, Yomi; Kazeem, Yomi. "The young African innovators to watch in 2019". Quartz Africa. Retrieved 2019-01-11.