The idea that the tech industry in Africa is male-dominated is massively getting eroded following smart and assertive African women occupying the centre stage and changing the face of the industry on the continent with their giant strides in the global community. Women are increasingly bridging the gender-gap in tech and creating equal opportunity in the industry.
By exposing African girls to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses, the continent is enjoying increasing rate of women developers, entrepreneurs, graphic artists, innovators and many of them are establishing technology-based business and also teaching young girls to code.
In the spirit of Women’s History Month, WAAW Foundation is profiling six strong African Women who have carved a niche for themselves in the technology industry and inspiring other African women and girls.
UNOMA NDILI OKORAFOR
Dr. Unoma Okorafor is graduate of Computer and Electrical Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Dr. Unoma Okorafor founded Working to Advance African Women (WAAW) Foundation in 2007, while she was a PhD student. She did so in response to a burning desire to see more women of African descent healthy, educated, and inspired to participate in home and community building.
WAAW Foundation currently runs 13 STEM outreach and mentoring programs in 8 different African countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Malawi, Togo and South Africa; and is hoping to expand it to more countries to impact on more girls. WAAW Foundation works with over 110 university fellows in the 13 STEM cells, reaching over 6000 public school student each year. Dr. Unoma is especially focused focuses on girls in poverty-affected areas with a goal to ultimately increase the pipeline of African girls entering STEM related careers.
Felleng Sekha is a Non- Executive Director of Business Connexion, a South African black owned ICT company. She was also the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board deputy chairperson and has chaired the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and the National Telecommunications Forum. Ms. Sekha holds a BA in Law from the Universities of Lesotho (NUL) and LLB from Universities of Cape Town, and a post graduate diploma in Media Communications and Information Technology law from the University of Melbourne.
Sekha has worked for the Centre for the Development of Information and Telecommunications Policy, Telkom SA as corporate accounts manager, MTN SA as GM for business development and and led the team that successfully set up MTN in Nigeria from 2001 to 2005. She currently owns an NGO, Platinum Ring, whose aim is to create entrepreneurial and career opportunities for young South Africans.
Doreen was conferred with the ‘Top ICT Businesswoman, 2009’ award, by the African ICT Achievers Awards Board. This great achievement is a lucid inspiration to other women intending to journey into the world of business.
The Top ICT Business Woman award is conferred by the African ICT Achievers Awards Board in honour of a woman in the ICT sector for her significant contribution to her organization and society at all levels. It recognises any deserving woman for achievement and excellence in the field of ICT in the private sector. She is currently President of Citizen Owned Businesses in Information Technology (COBIT) in Botswana.
Rebecca Enonchong is the founder and CEO of AppsTech, a global provider of enterprise application solutions with presence in over 50 countries of the world. In 2014, a Forbes article named Rebecca on a list of female tech founders to watch in Africa. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers’ Women In Engineering (WIE) also named her to their Power 60 list. On the startup scene, Rebecca is the chairman of ActivSpaces; a Cameroonian tech hub with co-working space and incubator. The African Business Angels Network (ABAN) also names Miss Enonchong as co-founder and treasurer, as well as a mentor and adviser to several African based technology startups. Enonchong is also the founder the Africa Technology Forum, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting technology in Africa.
Judith Owigar is one of Kenya’s most popular female tech leaders. She is the founder of JuaKali, an online and mobile directory for Kenya’s skilled blue-collar workers.
JuaKali, founded in 2012, and based in Nairobi, connects service providers from the informal sector with institutional and individual clients. The service allows workers to create an online profile showing their expertise.
The service can be accessed via web and mobile. Owigar 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.
Clarisse Iribagize is the founder of HeHe Limited, a Kigali-based mobile technologies company that develops ways for businesses to reach their customers and audiences in a timely and affordable manner.
HeHe builds custom mobile applications for businesses, provides 24/7 online and offline support and cloud storage services.
Iribagize founded the company in 2010 after winning a $50,000 grant from Inspire Africa, a Rwandan TV entrepreneurial contest. HeHe’s clientele now includes African mobile telecoms giant MTN, the Praekelt Foundation and government agencies in Rwanda.