Can The Future Of Technology Bridge The Gender Divide In Africa?

Outstanding speakers, compelling content for everyone at the 25th Africa Tech Festival and an exclusive eBook focusing on profiling inspiring South African women in tech.

Women’s Day will be celebrated in South Africa on 9 August.  Whilst many people use the bank holiday to take time off and relax, for many, it is an important reminder that a woman’s rights to participate in society and the economy on her own merit still fall short of where they should be.  A situation that still rings true for women in many countries around the world.

Seeking specifically to address the gender gap in technology, Africa Tech Festival, the home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech, will engage in much needed open and robust dialogue with both genders.  The event, returning physically to Cape Town in November this year, will also present several working sessions that look at the challenges, the opportunities, and the solutions to propel women’s advancement across the continent.

James Williams, Director, Events | Connecting Africa | Informa Tech, says: “It’s been 25 years since we staged the first AfricaCom event focused on connectivity in Africa.  Although the continent (and the event) has progressed in leaps and bounds, there is still a requirement to present content at this event that puts women front and centre of the digital transformation agenda.”

Adding to the conversation, Laura Stubbing, CEO of EQL:HER, a global network and event series, which exists to re-balance gender inequities in the technology sector and which is involved in the programme of Africa Tech Festival, highlights, “The funding that went into female led start-ups between 2013-2021, for example, was less than 5% of the total available funding. Yet, with necessity being the ‘mother’ of invention, women are well placed to drive technology innovation across Africa – why is the financial support for women-led start-ups still lagging?”

EQL:HER exists to re-balance gender in the technology sector to secure women an inclusive future across all businesses. This year EQL:HER will return to Africa Tech Festival to tackle two critical topics: changing the face of leadership roles in tech, and how to become an angel investor. Past EQL:HER speakers at Africa Tech Festival include Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT for the Government of Rwanda, Tracy Turner, Founder & Chairman of Copia Global and Arianna Huffington, CEO of Thrive Global.

To address this divide, Africa Tech Festival, in partnership with EQL:HER and Connecting Africa is also  putting together a booklet showcasing some inspiring South Africa women active in the tech sector. Released today, this booklet celebrates the achievements of inspiring women in tech and looks at providing practical tips on how to build a career in this fast paste sector, to bridge the gender divide and promote inclusivity on all levels. Interviewees include Juanita Clark, Founder & Chief, Executive, Digital Council Africa Patience, Mthunzi-Kufa, Research Group Leader at CSIR, Janet Sawari, CEO & Founder, The AI Review, Mampsane Dolly Phalane, Director at Procter & Gamble, Jeni Kostova, Group Executive: Marketing and Communications at Ayo Technology Solutions, and so many more, this eBook is a must-read for all women interested in kickstarting or boosting their career in tech.

In addition to this eBook, Africa Tech Festival will once again gather the brightest minds in telecom and tech. Just some of the exciting speakers that delegates can look forward to hearing are: Funke Opeke, who is founder and CEO of MainOne, a leading Digital Infrastructure service provider that built West Africa’s first open-access submarine cable system interconnecting Nigeria; Ghana; and Portugal in 2010. Nina Triantis, Global Head of Telecoms, Media & Technology at Standard Bank, who has over 30 years investment experience in the TMT sector

Other luminaries who will speak at the event are: Nika Naghavi, Executive Director at MFS Africawho is responsible for building and managing relationships with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to unlock growth opportunities.  Joining her, Nastassha Dooks, Business Executive head – SME &SOHO at Vodacom, and Ida Nganga, Regional Head at UNESCO Emerging Technologies for Development and Global President, Startup Innovation for the Global Council for the Promotion of International Trade. She is also the Founder of the award-winning Regional Consortium for Development – RCD Africa, whose experts use technology and engineering as an enabler for achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

Hannah Subayi Kamuanga  an experienced impact investor in Africa, currently acting as the Country Officer for the Republic Democratic of Congo (DRC) within Proparco – one of the largest DFIs in the world. Tope Ogundipe is the Founder/Director at TechSocietal Consulting, a social enterprise excelling at technology policy programs management for social good. Specifically, TechSocietal engages with technology and/or digital policies, programmes and products; for human rights, freedoms, gender and inclusion. Janet Sawari the CEO and founder of The AI Review (TAIR Labs), a serial entrepreneur, and an AI content contributor for The Yuan AI Health Platform. She is passionate about education, social impact and women empowerment.

Compelling content that deserves attention and attendance includes:

Tuesday 8 November:
With the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals deadline only eight years away, much still needs to happen. An opening keynote that will address this is entitled, The Road to 2030: : Building a Digitally Transformed Continent for Prosperity and Inclusivity.

This will be followed by a panel happening in the AfricaTech hall that looks at how  Women Challenging Male Domination in African Tech.

On Wednesday 9 November, also in the AfricaTech hall, a fireside chat will examine the challenges women face in joining Africa’s fintech revolution and what is needed to break the barriers. The interactive session will also look at ways to bridge the enormous disparities between genders in this sector, including the dearth of funding to women technopreneurs.

Also on Wednesday, delegates can participate in a panel on  Empowering Women Through Socially Impactful Entrepreneurialism.   

In addition to women specific content on Wednesday, AfricaTech will also host a fireside chat on  The Future Workforce – Learning and Development in the 4th Industrial Revolution, something all genders need to be prepared for.

Whilst not women-focused specifically, another fireside chat of interest – in the AfricaTech hall – also delves into how to address the skills shortage and gap in developing a cloud-savvy workforce to meet the rapidly growing demand for talent, to meet the growing demand for cloud computing skills and digital everything.

Future ready: The IMF predicts there will be 230 million new jobs by 2030 requiring a certain level of digital literacy and technical skills. How do we ensure that skills we are teaching will be future-proof and meet the skills in demand in the next decade? Is there women can come into their own?

There can never be parity in this increasingly digital world if everyone does not have equal access and right to access the Internet. While many nations have made impressive recent advances in internet provision, hundreds of millions of Africans still lack ‘meaningful connectivity’. Simply put, many of those connected, also lack internet that is fast and reliable, or cannot afford the data or devices to fulfil the day-to-day tasks that allow meaningful participation in the digital economy. This panel discussion – Not All Internet is Created Equal – Unlocking Meaningful Connectivity  – will take place in the AfricaCom hall on Thursday 10 November, will look at unlocking the economic key and access4all to connectivity across the continent.

Further information can be found on the Africa Tech Festival website here

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