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(OPINION) Women in Africa need ‘a tough skin’ to succeed in the tech industry

Women in Africa should “build up a tough skin” to succeed in the male-dominated technology industry. Ugandan technologist and social entrepreneur Evelyn Namara says female participation in technology in Africa is increasing, but gender stereotypes abound. Evelyn Namara, xxx Evelyn Namara, founding member of Girl Geek Kampala Namara is the East Africa regional manager for tech company Beyonic and a founding member of Girl Geek Kampala, a forum that seeks to erase stereotypes against women in technology. “When I started my career in 2003 we had about 15% women representation in the industry. In my class we were about four or five ladies and so pursuing that career and then getting into the workplace where I was questioned on why I was going to a place to fix a server because I am girl, really encouraged me to find out why there were fewer women in the space and how that can change.”Africa’s technology revolution has inspired many young entrepreneurs, but women remain under-represented. It is the same in the US’s Silicon Valley where women make up just 6% of CEOs of the top 100 tech companies and 22% of software engineers at tech companies, according to National Center for Women and Information Technology research. Another study shows women make up only 8% of venture-backed tech startups.

South Africa’s internet in pictures

‘The internet’ is a term which most people associate with visiting websites, watching YouTube videos, doing Google searches or buying a product online. The “magic” which makes this possible is a global system of fibre networks and connected computers. Wikipedia describes the internet as “a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to serve several billion users worldwide”. “It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies.” CNN recently published an article titled “This is what the internet actually looks like: The undersea cables wiring the Earth”, giving an overview of the global internet. “The information age is powered by thin fiber-optic cables buried in the sea bed, spreading between continents to connect the most remote corners of the planet,” the article stated.

Cost key to 'Internet of everything'

SA's public sector has the capacity to benefit by adopting Internet of everything principles in a bid to meet the country's challenges, but communication costs will first need to be addressed. This is according to David Mphelo, director of public sector business at Cisco SA. Increased mobility, the emergence of cloud computing, and the growing importance of big data, and other aspects are combining to enable the Internet of everything, which entails a "networked connection of people, processes, data and things".

Africa: Technology Marked As Central Africa's Ace Card to Green Industrialisation

N'djamena — After three days of brainstorming on the opportunities and challenges of the green economy for industrialisation in Central Africa, about sixty experts from eight countries in the sub-region and several international organisations have appealed to member States and the private sector to establish useful partnerships likely to mount special technologies for profitable green industrialisation. This was at the 30th session of the Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts (ICE) for Central Africa co-organised by the Government of the Republic of Chad and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in the Chadian capital. According to the experts, a fresh approach to dependable greening of industrialisation in Central Africa "requires a fundamental rethink of cash-based economic approaches and the adoption of appropriate industrial policies for the processing and commercialisation of high value-added products".

Commonwealth ICT Ministers gather for ICT Forum

The first-ever Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum is taking place in London at which an agreement is expected on a strategy for advancing broadband across the 53-country membership.Ministers will also review recommendations for a pan-Commonwealth cyber-governance model and consider ways to improve access to technology for users with disabilities. Cyber-security and cyber-crime will also be discussed.Ahead of the meeting, Omobola Johnson, Nigerian Minister of Communications Technology and Chair of the Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum said: “I very much look forward to the inaugural Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum and am certain that this event will strengthen pan-Commonwealth co-operation while helping to build consensus on ICT matters at a global scale.”The two-day meeting, which ends tomorrow, is jointly organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Ministers from 30 Commonwealth countries are attending, with representation from large Commonwealth countries such as India, to small island nations such as Nauru.

South Africa launches National Broadband Council

South Africa’s National Broadband Advisory Council (NBAC), which will advise the Minister of Communications on the implementation of “South Africa Connect”, the Broadband policy and strategy, was officially launched yesterday.The Council comprises independent technical experts and representatives of business, trade unions and civil society. Dr. Sibusiso Sibisi, the CSIR President, will chair the Council, and Prof. Alison Gillwald, Director of Research ICT Africa is the Deputy Chair. Other members of the Council include Prof. Sunil Maharaj, Ms. Mandla Msimang, Mr. Arthur Goldstuck, Dr. Bernie Fanaroff, Mr. Mlamli Booi, Mr. Geoffrey Qhena, Prof. Jyoti Mistry, and Ms. Jesse Maluleke. Since the adoption of “SA Connect” in December 782 schools have been provided with computers as part of giving a further impetus to the broadband plan. A new e-skills institute, Ikamva, was launched two weeks ago.

Expedience 4G WiFi offload holds the key for e-learning

In South Africa, only about 7% of schools have an adequate library, while only 10% of schools have sufficient Internet access and desktops for staff and pupils (Africa mobile fact book 2012). Education and skills development is a top priority for government, and e-learning will have a significant role to play in the future. "Affordable connectivity by means of 4G WiFi offload holds the key for e-learning in South Africa, with the cost for 3G and LTE data expected to remain prohibitive," says Michelangelo Technology CEO André Nel. "The most important factor in making the opportunity a reality is providing a secure and seamless user experience for smartphone and tablet users, with data priced at 80% below the data rates offered by mobile operators."

U.S. Investments Surge For African Tech Entrepreneurs

From the largest technology companies to early stage investors, American high tech companies and venture capitalists are increasingly supporting startups across the African continent. Whether it’s the 16 mobile apps in Botswana that Jim Goetz mentioned in his take on Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp; the launch of IBM’s new innovation centers in Lagos and Casablanca; Microsoft’s partnership with three incubators in Africa, or the African Development Bank’s recent summit on how to engage the private sector more effectively, African entrepreneurship is on investors minds.

Rising popularity of Wi-Fi in SA puts spotlight on infrastructure gaps

Picture: THINKSTOCK LOCAL internet service providers are scrambling to satisfy growing demand for Wi-Fi but there is a shortage of infrastructure and a reluctance among some players to invest on their own. South Africans are increasingly choosing Wi-Fi as their preferred way to connect to the internet, over 4G and 3G technology or wired connections. The use of Wi-Fi is experiencing growth around the world, including in South Africa. Cisco Systems has predicted the number of Wi-Fi hot spots will reach 5.8-million in 2015, from 1.3-million in 2011, which is a 350% increase. It has become so indispensable that free access to Wi-Fi influences travellers’ choices of hotel, according to a worldwide LinkedIn survey.

The broadband challenge in South Africa

The past ten years have heralded major growth for the development of ICT in South Africa. Business use of ICT is now on par with the best in the world; almost every South African owns or has access to a mobile device and the mobile revolution has brought many benefits of the modern ICT industry to millions of people. The next crucial step, working to complement our high levels of mobile adoption, is to take performance, availability and adoption of fixed broadband in South Africa to the next level. Broadband is not just about high-speed internet connectivity and accessing more data faster. Broadband is a set of transformative technologies which is fundamentally changing the way we live – and which has a crucial role to play in sustainable economic development and social growth

Nigeria to seek accelerated African tech transformation

The UN Economic Commission for Africa in collaboration with the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the Ministry of Communications Technology (FMCT), and Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) will hold a high level policy dialogue on the theme: Science, Technology, and Innovation and the African Transformation Agenda, on 24-25 March 2014 in Abuja. The dialogue was announced this week by President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria during the inauguration ceremony of the National Research and Innovation Council (NRIC), of which he is Chairman. The meeting will bring together high level policy makers and experts from across the continent in the areas of science, technology and innovation to discuss and deepen understanding on how technology and innovations can be deliberately and purposefully applied to accelerate the African transformation agenda, improve the life chances of Africans and enhance the competitiveness of Africa’s economies.

eLearning Africa to host 5th photography competition

eLearning Africa has announced its fifth annual Through your Lens photography competition, urging photographers to document how ICT is enhancing how Africans live, learn, cooperate and connect. This years competition, entitled “Social Africa: building bridges through ICT”, is open until April. The winning photos will be displayed at this year’s eLearning Africa conference. Prizes include a tablet PC, digital camera and an MP3 player. “Contributions from all sectors and walks of life are welcome,” eLearning Africa said in a statement. “The photo should show how communication tools and information technologies can build bridges and foster relationships between people and be accompanied by a brief description outlining the inspiration behind their idea.”

Top broadband suburbs, cities in South Africa

Ookla’s Net Index website shows that the affluent suburbs of Rivonia, Bryanston, and Sandton are the South African suburbs with the highest average broadband speeds. The Net Index website, which uses data from millions of recent test results from Speedtest.net, shows that the average download speed in South Africa is 4.5Mbps. South Africa’s average broadband speed is significantly lower than the global average of 16.7Mbps. The following table compares South Africa’s average broadband speeds with global download and upload speeds.

Building trust in online real estate a major challenge in Africa

Building trust is the major challenge in the online real estate market in Africa, with the industry battling with misrepresentations, according to Kian Moini, co-founder of Rocket Internet-owned online real estate marketplace Lamudi. Moini told HumanIPO on the sidelines of the ongoing Social Media Week (SMW) Lagos though the challenges in each country vary, building trust was the main issue. “The main obstacles that we have found in Nigeria and Africa have been building trust in the real estate market, especially online. There is a great deal of misrepresentations that happen in this industry, but we strive to ensure that our customers can trust the classifieds on the site,” he said.

Which broadband is right for you?

Getting broadband in South Africa is no simple task. There are multiple fees. You have to wait for a phone line to be installed. Bandwidth comes not only in different speeds, but different capacities. And different levels of quality. To help simplify things, a little, we’ve got this here flowchart – the first in a series of many, from htxt.africa. We’ve taken one of the most-asked questions for a nation that’s slowly realising that life with the internet is inevitable, and gathered the best answers for the most common scenarios. People who want to download a lot? Got ya covered. Just want the cheapest access? Read on. What about a house full of gamers? Scroll down and see.

dotAfrica domain set for May launch

Travel companies operating across the continent should register a dotAfrica domain to position themselves as pan-African. This is the advice Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx MD, offers travel brands ahead of the launch of the dotAfrica domain in May.

Can tech help solve some of Africa's education problems?

As UNESCO holds its second Mobile Learning Week, DW takes a look at how technology is being used in African countries and what can be done to take advantage of Africa's mobile connectivity. Kapenda Ndimuwanakupa recently completed secondary school in Windhoek, Namibia. The 19-year-old was also recently in Germany on a media internship, which he partly "crowdfunded" using a video that he posted on YouTube. Media-savvy Kapenda is a direct result of his continent's digital revolution in recent years. "We all got taught how to use computer and [...] information networks, like Google for example, to search information that you can use for class work and doing projects," he told DW. Kapenda was attending a state-run school in Windhoek. And his school wasn't that unique in its computer education, he says. Schools experiment with tech Despite Namibia being one of the richest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Kapenda's educational experience is becoming less of an exception in other cities in Africa. For three years now, education authorities have been experimenting with media labs in over 60 secondary schools in Abuja, Nigeria, according to Iyke Chukwu, a teacher-trainer for digital learning with the Federal Capital Territory Secondary Education Board. But most teachers aren't all that enthusiastic about technology, he says.

Microsoft appoints youth to 4Afrika Advisory Council

On Tuesday, Microsoft introduced four youth members to the 4Afrika Advisory Council to ensure the critical voices of Africa’s large youth demographic are heard. The Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council, announced last October, is an external board of advisers tasked with guiding strategic investments undertaken by the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative. Microsoft 4Afrika was launched one year ago to facilitate Microsoft’s active engagement in Africa’s economic development. The four youth ambassadors will represent the issues facing Africa’s rural and urban youth, including unemployment, education and access to technology. “The information and communications technology (ICT) field is not only redefining how we conduct our major businesses on the continent, it is increasingly improving the efficiency of critical support services, such as education, health, and disaster mitigation and management. The young demographic is playing a big role in integrating new solutions to these services, and this has helped create new industries and employment opportunities,” said H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, chairman, Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council. “The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative will be critical in defining a framework that other global and indigenous organizations in the ICT space can adopt to leverage this emerging space and promote economic development in Africa.

SEACOM set to invest further into Africa

SEACOM is making extensive investments in terrestrial backhaul, additional subsea connectivity and its pan-African IP/MPLS network, in line with its commitment to provide its customers with resilient, high-quality services. The network enhancements will enable further growth of the continent’s telecoms infrastructure. SEACOM has upgraded its South African backhaul networks, linking its West and East coast cable assets through activation of multiple wavelengths between Johannesburg and Cape Town, coupled with upgrades of the network platforms that support its services to major cable interconnection hubs in Yzterfontein and Mtunzini. In addition, SEACOM has acquired additional West coast subsea capacity to meet demand from both its transmission and IP/MPLS customers, creating highly-resilient service platforms in both Southern and Eastern Africa. Strong adoption of SEACOM’s MPLS & IP Transit services has also prompted the company to upgrade its IP/MPLS network across Africa, Europe and Asia. SEACOM is in the final stages of negotiating contracts with vendors for the rollout of an enhanced services platform that will keep SEACOM at the forefront of African data connectivity. “These were the last missing pieces of the puzzle we needed to put in place to realize our vision of creating a ring of resilient connectivity around Africa.

Zim to stage e-Tech Africa Expo

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services will stage an e-Tech Africa expo conference and exhibition from 11 – 14 March 2014. The theme for this year is “Promoting Competitiveness and Sustainable Growth Through ICTs”. The event aims to bring a wide range of ideas, opinions, perspectives, research findings and expertise to expand knowledge frontiers for sustainable growth and development through ICTs. The event is also expected to draw people from the ICT industry, civil society, academia and government to a discussion platform. The Africa ICT 2014 Conference and exhibitions will provide a platform for creating awareness about the opportunities, challenges and benefits derived from the adoption of ICTs in Africa as well as initiate practical measures needed to extend the ICT reach. The exhibitions and conference will also explore the enabling role of ICTs in the development of African countries. In order to address ICTs at grass roots level, the last day of the conference has been reserved for career guidance fair. The Career guidance fair will host a range of awareness programs targeting different groups like students and career counsellors, in an attempt to create greater awareness of the potential in the ICT industry, different entry paths to the industry, the full range of career options available and the qualifications or skill set required.