Women in tech is not a new topic, but where Africa is concerned, it’s a growing trend that’s gathering huge traction. With the launch of FirefoxOS in Africa, we’re tuning in to the communities around the continent that are driving open source and web technology in an inspiring way and we’re getting into the topics that matter on a social level, starting with the powerful women behind key technological initiatives around the continent.
Women in Tech are a community of organisations across Africa which focus on encouraging women to enter the field of technology – as coders, as IT managers, aiming to establish enterprises that increase women’s socio-economic well-being.
Liaising with one another via virtual tech meet ups, these organisations brought together over 150 women in technology roles across Africa.
In South Africa for instance, where women make up more than half of the country’s total workforce, only 20% of ICT employees are women. But times are beginning to change –Barbara Mallinson and Annette Muller are two South African women who have flourished in an industry dominated by male stereotypes. Making the Forbes 10 Female Tech Founders to Watch in Africa List at the end of 2014 starts to showcase that there are minds to be heroed in Africa’s tech sphere.
Mallinson, founder and chief executive of Obami, a social learning platform usedin schools across Africa, Europe and the U.S. , is also the only African women on the advisory board for MWC (Mobile World Conference).
“Technology is a great enabler and it won’t be long before we start to see how the power of tech can transform lives, communities and our economy. But given our infrastructure limitations and the ridiculous cost of data, we aren’t reaching the full potential of what technology can do for us as a nation.” – Barbara Maillinson
The situation is clearly changing – the Forbes list showed a number of inspirational African women who are driving the female tech story along, and the likes of Edith Brou and Ethel Cofie are raising the stakes both online and offline for the women in IT movement. More and more events being organised in honour of the diversity demand in the tech sphere, and some are happening with our very on Firefox OS community.
Our Ivory Coast Moz Rep, Ange Manuela Kouadio is our WOMOZ project manager and member of Amazoon du Web – an organisation which supports a community of ‘Geekettes’ and entrepreneurs in the ICT sphere.
In her words – “If you train a woman, you are training a nation” – a pretty inspiring notion that we embrace and we will be hearing more from her directly in her very own blog series, covering the awesome missions she is involved in.
Ethel Cofie – a Ghanaian tech entrepreneur is working on a number of projects that are fuelling the change on a socio-economic level. For instance, Africa Twenty10 is an accelerator, which will provide a 3 month intensive programme for local African startups looking to reach a bigger market. MOTECH (Mobile Technology for Community Health) is an open source software project that aims to support organisations building mHealth solutions. It allows multiple mHealth solutions serving the same population to be deployed in a way that enables data sharing and therefore a better user experience of the system.
In Cameroon, Mozillian Dorothée Danedjo Fouba has been building community in open source (including launching Mozilla Cameroon) and with girls and women in Yaounde and other towns, through Technovation teams and other programs. Cameroon is proud to have two teams from their Technovation programs in the semi-finals for the world Technovation challenge! Dorothée came to Mozilla through the TechWomen program, which works with women technologists and scientists from 16 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Mozillian TechWomen from Algeria and Kenya are also making tremendous strides.
The Mozilla Tunisia community – which successfully launched FirefoxOS this past weekend – is powered by multiple strong women, including Melek Jabroun, who has led the community through many projects.
It’s this forward thinking, open source mentality that will help African businesses thrive with both women and men at the helm.
Keep checking the blog, because over the next weeks and months we will be featuring interviews with the women behind these and other projects across Africa and documenting the events and initiatives they’re creating.