The maiden edition of Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology took place at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra on Tuesday 13th September 2016. The two-day conference focused on designing solutions that will enable millions of African Women and girls to benefit from access to technology and use their skills to build a better Africa for all.
The 2016 Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology is a collaboration between the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), the World Wide Web Foundation, the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT (AITI-KACE), the African Development Bank, and UN Women.
The Conference engaged high-level participants and leading African women in technology who spoke up about solutions and contributed to policy processes on broadband internet access, women’s empowerment, and sustainable development.
There was an open forum discussion on the areas of women’s rights online, digital education and skills and digital entrepreneurship.
A capacity development specialist from the African Development Bank, Mr. Foster Nicholas Ofosu, during the opening session, revealed that the African Continent has witnessed a significant development in infrastructure where the African Development Bank is strongly positioned. He also revealed that the African Development Bank is positioned to support investment in infrastructure and its investment of about 120million dollars in infrastructure in the area of ICT in Africa for the year 2015 as a testament to the bank’s commitment towards investing in infrastructure.
He stated that in addition to infrastructure, they are also looking at building the capacity of young African men and women in 5 key areas in what he calls “The High Five Goals” of which ICT and gender issues are deeply embedded. “The High Five Goals”:
- Light up Africa
- Feed Africa
- Industrialize Africa
- Integrate Africa
- Improve the quality of life of all in Africa; he added.
In terms of gender and ICT, the African Development Bank has helped grant access to broadband technology to rural areas in African Countries such as Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda and other African Countries” he continued.
Mr. Ofosu explained that in order not to follow the traditional trajectory of development which focuses on access, the African Development Bank aims at increasing digital literacy across the continent.
He also spoke about the bank’s plan to improve innovation on the African continent.
Dr. Izeduwa Derex-Briggs a representative for Eastern and Southern Africa UN Women expressed the need for women to be placed at the heart of Africa’s development.
“Information drives technology, technology drives innovation, innovation is central to the development and growth of Africa, therefore, putting women in technology puts women at the heart of Africa’s development,” she said.
In talking about the role of UN Women Dr. Briggs revealed that UN Women was able to get an indicator on women in Technology under the Sustainable Development Goal 5 ( i.e Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) in 2015.
“As a result of the appalling Global data on women when it comes to digital literacy, UN women in partnership with Mozilla Foundation is working in different countries to train young women in schools in the area of digital literacy,” she continued.
She added that some of these schools have established digital literacy clubs.
Dr. Briggs stated that UN women has partnered with PricewaterhouseCoopers to build virtual skills among women through an initiative called “Empower Women”. Empower Women is a platform where women entrepreneurs communicate with each other and share ideas. She also revealed that the Rockefeller Foundation has been spearheading some of UN Women’s initiatives to encourage young women who are entering the digital space to start exploring the possibilities of digital jobs.
Dorothy Gordon, Director-General of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Center of Excellence, during her opening remarks, spoke on the role of African women in the technological age.
“We’re told technology is the purview of men but as African women, we know that we are the ones who have held the technology on this continent” she stated.
“Women are receiving these messages that technology is not for you, your role is different and that it is ok for you to earn less money and that our country will not suffer if you’re not part of this revolution. But we know that if Africa will rise, it will rise with all its people and so African women have to really be at the core of this,” she continued.
She spoke on the need for African women to embrace social media and be a part of community groups.
The African Coordinator for Web Foundation, Nnenna Nwakanma, also spoke on the need for a concerted effort towards building a developed African continent.
“We can’t just behave as if all is well in Africa. I cannot live in my own broadband capacitated world and forget how things are going across in the villages. We cannot depend on others to salvage Africa from poverty,” she stated.
Nnenna Nwakanma also entreated participants to show love and respect for humanity.
“We need to respect people in their differences. People’s needs may not always be our need. We cannot help people beyond the way they want to be helped. In bringing other people up, we must love them the way they want to be loved. You cannot be a star only in your local community. We need to build communities,” she said
She entreated participants to be concerned about what goes on in other African countries.
Reporter: Demond ‘Pappy’ Tawiah, threesixtyGh writer
Image Source: Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) and Web Foundation