African Women
One area where the fight against poverty in Africa has had significant support is the continent’s tech industry. As more tech companies and startups move into Africa, the result is an increase in opportunities for Africans to enter the sector as developers and IT experts. In 2020, the number of professional software developers in Africa rose from 690,000 to 716,000, which is due in part to countries like Kenya making it mandatory to teach programming in school. The tech industry continues to provide many amazing opportunities for Africans and African women to rise out of poverty.

However, one group that has not experienced the full positive impact of Africa’s tech industry is women. Today, women make up less than 20% of the digital workforce. Despite making up about 60% of Africa’s workforce, women often find themselves in low-income and labor-intensive jobs such as farming that provide little opportunity for economic and career development. By not being as readily included in Africa’s tech industry, African women – especially those who are in deeper poverty – are at a strong disadvantage.

Thankfully, there are those who realize this discrepancy and are working to provide opportunities for women to enter Africa’s tech industry. Two of these organizations are Mukuru and WeThinkCode, a financial service company and an educational institution, respectively, that recently hosted a hackathon to help female developers show their skills and gain impactful career opportunities.

Opportunities Through Coding

Both institutions have great influence in the sphere of Africa’s digital economy. Mukuru is an innovative money transferral service located in South Africa, while WeThinkCode is an academy that provides top-class coding education to residents of Johannesburg in the Gauteng province. In September 2022, both organizations teamed up to host a woman-only hackathon, to which they invited female students of WeThinkCode and bursary recipients of the Mukuru Education Fund.

A “hackathon” is an event where multiple people get together and work on one or several coding projects over a specific period of time. The goal for this hackathon was for the selected female programmers to create either a financial education or management tool that Mukuru would then use to serve its customers. Designed to allow the attending women to put their coding skills on display, the event helped women win internships and important job shadowing opportunities.

Deidré Vrede, Mukuru’s CSI manager, cited the problem of women in Africa’s tech industry making up less than 20% of the workforce, and how she felt their hackathon was a great step forward in remedying this issue. “Judging by the innovation, skills and creativity on display [at this hackathon], the future of women in IT is bright,” she said. Nyari Sumashonga, the CEO of WeThinkCode, concurred, stating her belief that the young women that participated will be role models for future generations of women wishing to enter the tech industry.

Woman Leading Tech

Mukuru and WeThinkCode’s hackathon serves as a great example of the work occurring to provide African women with opportunities to gain meaningful careers in the tech industry, regardless of their economic status. Providing opportunities for impoverished women to prove their skills and climb the professional ladder will not only help raise them out of poverty but will also be a boon to Africa’s tech industry.

– Elijah Beglyakov
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Cryptocurrencies, online banking and mobile phones are the tools of the 21st century to combat global poverty. For Africa, these technological innovations may be the help necessary to get the world’s most concentrated area of impoverished people out of poor living conditions. Here is some information about Africa’s tech industry.

Tech Hubs in Africa

Africa’s tech industry has picked up pace in development over the last few years as international companies invest in local start-ups, creating technological hubs throughout the continent. With these tech hubs sprouting up throughout Africa, some of the poorest countries in the world are now able to access the internet, online banking and other digital enterprise advantages. There are more than 600 tech hubs across Africa providing jobs, resources and digital technologies. The three largest tech hubs in Africa are in Lagos, Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya.

In Nigeria, there are 90 tech hubs providing internet to 122 million people accounting for 20% of all of Africa’s internet use. South Africa is home to 78 tech hubs with nearly 30 million people having access to mobile internet. As for Kenya, there are 50 tech hubs within the country, where more than 200 startups are operating with a total combined value of more than $1 billion.

The Necessary Basics

Although tech hubs provide internet access to many areas in Africa, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that some countries like Rwanda and Nigeria have a high percentage of access to the internet. However, only 28% of Africa’s overall population uses the internet. 

This hurts the potential benefits that people can gain from these advancements because with all the innovations sprouting up throughout the world today, the first tool necessary in technological economic advancement is access to the internet. Without internet access, many programs such as online banking apps or AgTech innovations could not function. For Africa to utilize the growing tech industry on its home front, basic technological infrastructure must undergo intercontinental establishment.

Technology, Not Poverty

With such a large number of developing countries on one continent, the issues surrounding global poverty are ever-more pertinent. Africa is home to the top impoverished nations in the world, with nearly 70% of all the world’s poor people living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Innovation, and the digital information technology that accompanies it, has become a necessary component of any effort to address such challenges as food security, education, health, energy, and competitiveness,” IMF reported. “Africa must shift its focus to retaining and creating wealth, better managing its resources, fostering inclusiveness, moving up on global value chains, diversifying its economies, optimizing the energy mix, and placing human capital at the center of policymaking.”

In many African nations, the poverty rates are increasing due to COVID-19. However, the pandemic has also provided the opportunity for these countries to accelerate their technological advancement in areas such as health, education and financial technology. As the pandemic pushes Africa’s acceleration in technological advancement, it has affected FinTech.

New Tech Programs to Help Develop Africa

One of the most significant investment programs happening in pan-Africa’s technological ecosystem is through the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG), which recently started a $100 million program funding local tech start-ups in Africa. It aims to bring Africa up to speed in global network connectivity within the borders of Africa.

IBM, a global powerhouse in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), has recently expanded its operations for cloud services in Africa, working with the pan-African bank, Ecobank, to provide online banking services to 33 countries.

A blockchain currency banking start-up in Africa, called KamPay, will soon launch in seven countries allowing more than 50 million potential users to make daily transactions with businesses and individuals. The company will be launching an “e-voucher system” for farmers to access means for growing crops more affordable, as a recent Forbes article has explained.

With the push from outside investors, international monitoring and local support, Africa’s tech industry is beginning to implement into the lives of the poor, giving them the tools and resources to lift themselves into a better standard of living. Only time and future investments and development into Africa’s tech world will prove how its innovative solutions in the fight against global poverty will spread.

Ali Benzerara
Photo: Flickr