African Women On The Rise: Building Africa’s Silicon Valley One Step At A Time
Despite the growth of internet usage in Africa since the year 2000, just a fraction of the population about 7% have access to the internet. Even as access to technology increases globally, the divide in knowledge and skill sets limits the ability of developing countries to compete in the global market. The digital divide is the gap in the access to information and communication technologies between developed and developing countries or among different social groups. The divide is not limited to internet access but also to mobile phones, computers, radio and TV. Access to Information and Computer Technology, or ICT, is crucial to sustainable economic and social development as well as environmental protection.
Although the UN Sustainable Development Goals includes an important pledge to harness ICT to advance women empowerment and to connect everyone in the developing countries to the internet by 2020, the level of digital divide between men and women in the use of the internet and other ICT tools is still quite high. However, there are barriers to overcome before the empowering potential of ICT as a weapon against inequality and poverty. To close the gender divide in access to ICT, age and education are one of the most important socioeconomic drivers. Cities with highest gender gap such as Kampala-Uganda, Maputo-Mozambique, Jakarta-Indonesia and Nairobi-Kenya were among those on the list where the highest gender divide in access to internet was reported.
But the narrative is changing because African women are rising up and breaking the digital ceiling. These women are creating and exploiting ideas, products and services to produce dynamic businesses. They are also launching innovative tech companies that are challenging the norm and empowering young girls and women.
Judith Owigar- Kenya
Judith Owigar is the Co-founder and Operations Director of JuaKali. Juakali is an online and mobile directory for blue-coller workers in Kenya. She is also the founder of Akirachix, an association that aims to inspire and develop young women in technology through a mix of networking, training and mentoring programs. In 2009 and 2012, Owigar was named the as one of the Top 40 under 40 women by the Business Daily newspaper in Kenya. She was awarded the Anita Borg Change Agent Award by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology in 2011. In 2014, Judith was named as an international Focus fellow and according to Forbes, she is one of Kenya’s most popular female tech leaders.
Clarisse Ibagarize – Rwanda
Clarisse is the founder of HeHe Limited, a mobile technologies companies based in Kigali that is focused on developing ways for businesses to reach their customers and audiences in a fast and affordable manner. Clarisse founded the company in 2010 after winning a $50,000 grant from Inspire Africa, a Rwandan TV entrepreneurial contest. HeHe also provides 24/7 online and offline support and cloud storage services and builds custom mobile applications for businesses. Some of HeHe’s clientele includes the Praekelt foundation, MTN and some Rwandan government agencies.
Amuzu – Ghana
Amuzu is the co-founder of Nandimobile. She is a graduate of Ghana’s Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST). Nandimobile develops software that enables companies to deliver customer support and information services through SMS. She co-founded the company in 2010 and it has more than 20 corporate clients in Ghana.
Rebecca Enonchong – Cameroon
Enonchong is the founder of AppsTech, a global provider of enterprise application solutions. It was founded in 1999 and is based in Bethesda, Maryland. AppsTech an Oracle platinum partner which offers a diverse range of enterprise software products and services including implementation, training and application management services for large and medium-sized companies. It has clients in over 40 countries across the globe. Rebecca is also the founder and chairperson of the Africa Technology Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting technology in Africa and she serves as a mentor to many African tech start up companies. She best known for her work of promoting technology in Africa and was named as one of the ‘10 Female Tech Founders To Watch in Africa’ by Forbes.
Nkemdilim Uwage Begho – Nigeria
Nkemdilim Begho is the founder of Future Software Resources Ltd, a website design & web-solution provider. Future Software Resources Ltd was founded in 2008 and is located in Lagos, Nigeria. The company provides online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content management system development, online recruitment and IT consultancy services to more than 25 small and large Nigerian businesses and government agencies.
Ethel Cofie – Ghana
Ethel Cofie is the founder and CEO of Edel Technology Consulting, a company that provides IT and software services as an enabler and catalyst for businesses to achieve their goals. Ethel is the founder of Women in Tech Africa, initiator of the 1st Pan African woman in tech meetup and was shortlisted for the UN GEM Tech Award for work supporting women in ICT.
Annette Muller – South Africa
Annette is the founder of DotNxt and she holds a business science degree. DotNxt was founded in 2011 and it is based in Capetown, South Africa. It delivers digital development projects for South African companies and has over 20 corporate clients in South Africa. Some of DotNxt clientele includes South Africa’s biggest companies – Graham Beck, Primedia, Nedbank and Cell C. Muller is a sought-after international speaker and she was also named as one of the ’10 Female Tech Founders To Watch in Africa’. Annette is a beautiful digital change agent whose digital expertise and work serves as a connector for start-ups, agencies, and enterprises.
To learn more about the innovation across lagos at Africa at large be sure to attend #smwlagos 2017. Register here: https://socialmediaweek.org/lagos/attend/