Africa’s most powerful women in tech 2013
The role of women in the progressive Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Africa cannot be overstated. Today, more women are taking up central leadership roles and imparting their knowledge and experience daily in order to strengthen and sustain endeavors within these critical areas of the economy.
Here is a list of fifteen of the continent’s most powerful women (in no particular order) making a difference in ICT. Read about them and be inspired!
1. Ory Okolloh — Kenya
A Harvard-trained lawyer, activist and blogger, Kenyan-born Ory Okolloh spearheaded the founding of Ushahidi (the Swahili word for ‘patriot’), a revolutionary crowd souring utility which enables citizen journalists and eyewitnesses all over the world to report incidences of violence through the web, mobile E-mail, SMS, and Twitter.
Okolloh this year joined Omidyar Network as a director overseeing investments. Prior to this appointment she held the position of Policy Maker for Africa within Google and has been accredited with the promotion of Internet access for African users, encouraging content creation. She is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential women in global technology.
2. Professor Tebello Nyokong — Lesotho
Professor Tebello Nyokong is the director of the Nanotechnology Innovation Center at Rhodes University. She achieved international acclaim when she won the Africa-Arab State 2009 L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science for her groundbreaking research into photo-dynamic therapy, which looks at harnessing light for cancer therapy and environmental clean-up.
Born in 1951 in Lesotho, Prof. Nyokong spent most of her first eight years outside her country of birth. In 1977 she graduated from the National University of Lesotho, having spent her spare time doing research on the role of chemistry in everyday African life, and obtained a Canadian International Development Agency Scholarship to undertake post-graduate studies after which she
In 2010, Prof. Nyokong was awarded honorary doctorates from the Walter Sisulu University and the University of South Africa (UNISA). Prof Nyokong has been inducted into the Lesotho Hall of Fame.
3. Dorothy Gordon — Ghana
Dorothy K. Gordon is the first Director-General of Ghana’s first Advanced Information Technology Institute (AITI), the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT. She is a specialist in international development with over 20 years experience working throughout Africa, the US, Europe and Asia in Executive and Consulting positions – principally with the United Nations but also working with private sector and civil society organizations.
Ms Gordon’s work includes support to the drafting of key policy documents and providing systems design and implementation support to the launch of Ghana’s first Community Information Centers. She also supports training and research initiatives in India and Africa.
Ms Gordon, who has degrees from Ghana and the United Kingdom, serves on a number of international and national boards and also works with a range of NGOs and community-based organizations to support economic empowerment and good governance.
4. Eve Dmochowska — South Africa
Eve Dmochowska is a web strategist, educator and entrepreneur focused on strategy, advice and education for corporate companies. Eve assists these businesses to better understand the potential of the Internet for business success.
She works with the science park, based at the Innovation Hub, Pretoria, South Africa.
Eve runs a personal blog, ‘Of Relevance’, and is a regular contributor to various leading online media platforms in Africa.
Her online projects include New Media Journal, a publication aimed at marketing professionals keen to learn about the power of new media, Twojumpsahead.com, a hub of new media writing and analysis and click.co.za – a rating and review site based on user comments about South Africa’s e-commerce market.
Eve also manages the Internet Guide, an online magazine aimed at keeping readers up to date with Internet news.
Eve is a graduate of Boston University, where she studied economics and international relations. She’s the founder of Crowdfunding, a social project that helps to find investors for local start-ups. Crowdfunding won second prize at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s global entrepreneur pitching contest.
A recent project has been the launch of LegalZone.co.za, an online hub presenting South African lawyer profiles, in June 2013.
5. Emma Kaye — South Africa
Emma Kaye is the co vice-chair of the MEF EMEA Board, a body that represents the regions interest within the global trade association. She is also the founder and CEO of a full funded startup venture called Bozza. Bozza is a mobile application which enables communities to tell their stories from the inside out. Focused on contextually relevant made-for-mobile content, Bozza is rooted in townships across Africa, allowing friends and communities to see and share life through local music, videos, photos, a market place and more.
Before setting out to giving sustainable business direction to an African brand in new media for the mobile screen, Emma Kaye did much the same for African animation and entertainment. In animation, her credentials as co-founder of Triggerfish Animation (one of the top animation companies producing award winning Sesame Street globally) and AnimationSA.org (the voice of the animation industry), and as founder of the animation festival for Sithengi (Africa’s largest film market), stand out.
Emma was nominated as one of the top 50 women globally in the world of mobile entertainment for two years running and was selected as one of the top five most influential Women in Africa within the field of Science and Technology for 2011.
6. Heather Ford — South Africa
Heather Ford is a South African researcher, blogger, journalist, technology social entrepreneur and open source activist who has worked in the field of Internet policy, law and management in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
She is the founder of Creative Commons South Africa.
Ford graduated from Rhodes University, with a Bachelors degree in Journalism in 1999, her major was cyber publishing. In 2003 she went to Stanford University as a fellow in the Reuters Digital Vision fellowship program and volunteered for Creative Commons, a non-profit organization that strives to increase the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.
Heather launched Creative Commons South Africa, was project director of the Commons-Sense program at Wits University’s Link Center and co-founded the African Commons Project.
She was also appointed executive director of iCommons, a UK based corporation that seeks to improve the global commons by promoting collaboration amongst supporters of open education, access to knowledge, open access publishing and free software communities.
Her research and work in developing the commons led her to Wikipedia, where she serves as a member of the Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board.
7. Florence Seriki — Nigeria
Florence Seriki is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Omatek Computers.
Omatek Computers Limited was one of the first companies to locally assemble desktops and notebooks in Africa.
Florence is a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, Nigerian Computers Society (NCS) and the Institute of Directors.
She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and an MBA from the Lagos Business School.
8. Uche Eze — Nigeria
Uche Eze is a media entrepreneur and owner of the popular web property, BellaNaija.com. She aspires to make the site Africa’s number one fashion, music, style, movie, TV and beauty website.
Uche graduated from the Richard Ivy School of Business, University of Western Ontario, Canada.
She relocated back to Nigeria, established Bainstone, the parent company of BellaNaija.com, and in July 2009, quit her full-time job to focus her energies on building BellaNaija.com.
Eze was featured on CNN i-List on the 28th of September 2010. During the interview, Uche discussed the genesis and inspiration for the BellaNaija brand, social media and social media activism in Africa and future plans for BellaNaija.com.
The website, often referred to as a pioneer in the field of entertainment content in Nigeria, has won numerous awards including the Outstanding Contribution to Fashion Communication Award at the 2010 Africa Fashion Week held by Africa Fashion International (AFI) in Johannesburg, South Africa.
9. Nnenna Nwakanma — Nigeria
Nnenna Nwakanma is a Free and Open-source Software activist, community organizer, development adviser and consultant originally from Nigeria.
She is represented on a number of industry-focused organisations, including The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA), and heads up the Africa Network of Information Society Actors (ANISA) and the Africa Civil Society for the Information Society (ACSIS).
Nwakanma is one of the major Civil Society Actors in the World Summit on the Information Society; she represents the African Civil Society on the Digital Solidarity Fund, and advises on the Africa Information Society Initiative.
Nnenna is also Council Chair of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa, and also runs her own Platform of Development Consultants.
10. Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe — South Africa
Thoko is the CEO of Kutana Investment Group. She has vast experience in South Africa’s telecommunication industry, (including Managing Executive: Consumer Sales and Marketing at Telkom.
Mokgosi-Mwantembe has held several senior positions including divisional MD for Siemens, CEO of Alcatel SA and CEO of Hewlett-Packard South Africa.
She serves as an independent non-executive director on the boards of Vodacom, Absa, Paracon Holdings and Knorr-Bremse SA. Thoko holds an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry from Loughborough University and a BSc from the University of Swaziland. Thoko is a recipient of several awards including the 2007 BWA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the corporate category, ICT Achiever of the Year Award, Top ICT Businesswoman in Africa Award and ICT Personality of the Year.
11. Doreen Ramphaleng-Motlaleng — Botswana
Doreen Ramphaleng-Motlaleng is a Director at Informatix Industry Services, a software technology company based in Gaborone, Botswana.
Doreen was presented with the ‘Top ICT Businesswoman, 2009’ award by the African ICT Achievers Awards Board.
The Top ICT Business Woman award is conferred by the African ICT Achievers Awards Board to a recipient within the ICT sector in recognition of their significant contribution to their organisation as well as 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 (COSBIT) in Botswana.
12. Betty Mwangi-Thuo — Kenya
Betty Mwangi-Thuo joined Safaricom in December 2007 and is charged with managing the New Products Division comprising the globally acclaimed M-PESA business and Safaricom’s Value Added Service roadmap for product innovation and GSMA projects. In June 2010 she was featured by MCI (Mobile Communications International) as one of the top women in mobile.
Mwangi has over 10 years experience in the telecommunications industry. Prior to joining Safaricom she was Chief Marketing Officer at Afsat Communications Ltd, responsible for developing and managing the distributor network for the iWay business in 26 African countries. She also worked with GlaxoSmithKline for a number of years in various senior management positions.
Mwangi is a Kenyan citizen and has a B. Eng (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Victoria University of Manchester and also has an MBA from the University of Leicester – both in the UK. She is also a Chartered Marketer and a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Kenya Institute of Management.
13. Funke Opeke — Nigeria
Funke Opeke leads Main One Cable Company in Nigeria. She is an experienced telecommunications executive who founded Main Street Technologies.
Opeke returned to Nigeria in 2005 as the Chief Technical Officer of MTN Nigeria Communications (MTN) after a twenty-year career in the United States.
Prior to her return, she was the Executive Director of Verizon Communications Wholesale Division. Subsequent to MTN, Ms. Opeke advised Transcorp on the acquisition of NITEL and briefly served as the interim Chief Operating Officer, post acquisition of NITEL.
She obtained a first degree in Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, New York.
14. Isis Nyong’o — Kenya
Isis Nyong’o is the Vice President and the Managing Director of the African Operations of InMobi, which is the world’s largest independent mobile advertising network. She is currently managing InMobi’s African business strategy and facilitating the expansion of the company’s continental base.
Nyongo’o previously led Google’s business development initiatives in Africa, where she specialized in mobile partnerships and was responsible for the development of Google’s Africa content strategy.
Isis Nyong’o attended the Hillcrest School in Nairobi. She has degrees from Harvard Business School, where she was the president of the Africa Business club, and Stanford university. She has previously worked in the senior management positions at MyJobsEye — Kenya’s leading job site — MTV, and most recently Google. While working there in business development, she specialized in mobile partnerships and developed the company’s content strategy for Africa.
She has been named as one of the top 40 women under 40 in Kenya for several years as well as short listed on the Forbes Top 20 Youngest Power women in Africa. She serves on the boards of the Africa Cancer Foundation and Mango Tree. She was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
15. Dr. Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane — South Africa
Dr. Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane has 25 years experience in the broadcasting, film and telecommunications sectors in the US and in South Africa. She is currently a member of the Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development. In 2007 she won the South Africa Most Influential Business Women in Business and Government Award in the ICT category.
Mokone-Matabane is the former CEO of Sentech and Co- Chair of Independent Broadcast Authority (IBA). Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts and an MS from the University of Syracuse, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Texas.
Mokone-Matabane was a South African delegate to International Telecommunications Union Plenipotentiary, USA. She has served in various media related positions including the Texas Education Committee to review & develop new curriculum for radio, TV and related fields.
We salute all these women and many others that weren’t mentioned in this post. You efforts are really appreciated!