Juliana_Rotich_Ushahidi_women leading technology
Though the forefront of technology and innovation may be centered in California’s Silicon Valley, leaders in the field, particularly women, are not geographically limited to the Golden State. Africa specifically boasts a score of female ingénues, masters in their given field. From entrepreneurs to leaders, women are very much present in a variety of industries.

In the field of technology, Julia Rotich is the executive director of Ushahidi and one of its four founders. Ushahidi is a Kenyan non-profit tech company committed to providing transparency and democratizing information through open source software.

Originally established as a crisis map visualizing information of violence in Kenya, Ushahidi has since expanded to aiding companies, organizations and individuals. As the executive director, Rotich manages projects, acts as a global voice through her position as a Ted Talk Senior Fellow and is hailed by the World Economic Forum and Forbes, among others.

Combining technology with research, Professor Tebello Nyokong’s research largely focuses on photodynamic therapy. Utilizing light, Nyokong’s research is geared towards the treatment of cancer and restoration of the environment.

With a degree in chemistry at the National University of Lesotho, Nyokong finished with an MSc, to which she followed with a PhD from the University of Western Ontario and a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame in the U.S.

Marieme Jamme pushes for the inclusion of African voices regarding the development of Africa. Jamme is a co-founder of Africa Gathering, a forum and global platform to disseminate and share ideas that will better the continent.

With a bevy of innovators and world leaders, these women, a small selection among many, drive against the grain and canon of Africa as a receiver of aid. What the noble peace prize nominee teen Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan did for women’s education, these women, of whom there are many, demonstrate every day for technology: that it is a field run by both sexes.

Miles Abadilla

Sources: Africa Gathering, Forbes , IT News Africa, New York Times, Tech Women, Ushahidi, Ushahidi-2
Photo: TED

In the increasingly mechanized West, it is impossible to imagine daily life without constant connectivity—21st century consumers are defined by their smartphones, computers, and in general, their constant ability to participate in the internet community. With this omnipresence of technology, benefits are innumerable. However, in Africa, where much of the population lives in rural areas, connectivity is sparse.

Technology is inescapable in today’s globalized world: in order to compete, one must be connected. Luckily, the Kenyan nonprofit tech startup Ushahidi has recognized Africa’s dire need for technology. Their latest design, BRCK, seems to be a feasible solution. The device works as a modem that can connect 20 devices simultaneously and allow access to the Internet via WiFi, 3G, 4G, and Ethernet. The device can even function through a battery, providing constant access on a continent too often burdened with power blackouts.

From its origins, BRCK has received widespread support as an innovative product with the potential to revolutionize African technology. The project, which received its funding through Kickstarter, has energized the entire continent. With reliable Internet access, almost every African industry would progress prodigiously.

In her talk at TED, Ushahidi co-founder stressed the importance of BRCK, and by extension, technology, in the development of Africa. She said: “The idea is that the building blocks of the digital economy are connectivity and entrepreneurship. The BRCK is our part to keep Africans connected, and to help them drive the global digital revolution.”

Clearly, with reliable technology, the future of Africa is no longer nebulous. With equal access to information and markets, an auspicious change seems inevitable. With its solid design and brilliant inventors, BRCK appears to be the exact agent of change needed to propel Africa forward.

Furthermore, outside of the continent, BRCK has also received enormous attention. For those constantly on the go, whether for work or recreation, a reliable connection is indispensable. The product is now being sold for around 200 US dollars.

– Anna Purcell

Sources: Yahoo News, TED
Photo: Quartz