When a woman climbs the top rung of the typical all-male corporate ladder in Africa, it makes the news. Why? The reason is that women’s career advancement in the continent is still painstakingly slow.
In Africa, one of the traditional roles ascribed to a woman is homemaking. If she’s to have any career whatsoever, it should complement not detract from her familial duties.
Of course in such a patriarchal society, many women feel limited and eventually venture into low-wage careers.
It is therefore unsurprising that news of women’s advancement to a leadership position is celebrated as it’s an indication that the continent is getting closer to attaining gender diversity and inclusion one woman at a time.
Even as a few highly capable women reach the top in leading companies, there is very much in place a “glass ceiling” that prevents the majority from moving up the ladder.
Going by the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 which states that it will take another 100 years to achieve gender equality if the current rate of progress is anything to go by, governments, NGOs, associations, investors, and companies are doubling down in their efforts to change the status quo.
Much has been said about the benefits of inclusion and diversity. Stats have been quoted to prove that the greater the representation of women in an organization, the higher the likelihood of outperformance.
In line with Sustainable Development Goal 10- Reduced Inequalities- the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles requests companies to establish high-level corporate leadership ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities.
Interestingly, Africa consistently remains one of the best-performing regions for female leadership according to Grant Thornton’s Women in Business 2021 report.
The study shows that the percentage of African women in leadership roles has improved significantly from 29% in 2017 to 39% in 2021. Closely behind Africa in the 2021 ratings is ASEAN, with 38% of senior roles filled by women, followed by Latin America at 36%.
Overall, 83% of the countries surveyed recorded a proportion of women leaders over the 30% tipping point. This is indeed a positive development considering that no region was spared- to a greater or lesser degree- from experiencing a pandemic-induced economic downturn.
In 2021, gender parity is a top priority for organizations as they are ensuring equal access to developmental work opportunities.
Between 2019 to 2021, the Women in Business survey shows that the percentage of female CEOs and managing directors grew from 15% to 20% in 2020, and then a further six percentage points in 2021.
With Africa’s steady increase in the number of women leaders, we can hope that the glass ceiling will soon be shattered, allowing more women to be at the helm of affairs.
In no particular order, below are 7 tech companies that have African women in leadership roles
Described as the largest telecommunications provider in Kenya, Safaricom is renowned for its mobile phone-based money transfer service, payments, and micro-financing solution, M-Pesa, co-launched with Vodacom Group in 2007.
Sylvia Mulinge is currently the Chief Customer Officer where she handles Consumer Business, Brand Marketing, Brand Experience, Digital Transformation, Sales & Distribution, Operations, and Commercial Planning & Pricing.
At the board level, Safaricom has fourteen board members five of which are women.
Lori is a Kenyan venture-backed startup developing cutting-edge e-logistics infrastructure to revolutionize the cargo-transport value chain across Africa. More recently, Uche Ogboi, formerly the company’s Chief Operations Officer, has been appointed as its new Chief Executive Officer. She’ll
One of Africa’s unicorn companies, Nigeria-based Flutterwave was launched in 2016 to transform payments in Africa, and the rest of the world.
During International Women’s Month, the fintech company showed its support for female-led businesses in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda, and Zambia, Flutterwave by awarding them $2500 in grants.
Bode Abifarin is Flutterwave’s Chief Operating Officer. She’s been serving in that capacity since 2018.
Jumia is Africa’s largest e-commerce company. Having begun its operations in Lagos in 2012, it has since expanded to other African countries including Egypt, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and South Africa.
Jumia Nigeria’s former CEO, Juliet Anammah currently serves as the chairwoman of Jumia Nigeria as well as the Head of institutional affairs across Africa; while Tolulope George-Yanwah was made Jumia Ghana’s new Chief Executive Officer in April 2021.
Google LLC is an American multinational technology giant that provides internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies. In Africa, the company has a number of women occupying top positions.
For ten years, Nigeria’s Juliet Ehimuan has been the Director for West Africa, responsible for leading Google’s strategy and business growth in the region, and driving the strategy for the next billion users in Africa. In 2020, Google appointed Agnes Gathaiya Country Director for East Africa.
California-based big tech company, Apple is world-renowned for its consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. Earlier in March, Teju Ajani announced that she has joined Apple as Managing Director for Nigeria.
With this appointment, Teju makes history as the first person and first female to occupy such a position in Nigeria. In her new role, Ajani is expected to oversee Apple’s sales and business development in Nigeria.
Known for its flagship product, Remita, SystemSpecs Limited is a household name and pioneer of the software industry in Africa, providing robust solutions to individuals, corporate organizations across the African continent for almost three decades.
Ezinne Obikile is the Executive Director in charge of the development of SystemSpecs’ payment and data aggregation infrastructure to ensure seamless payments and financial inclusion.
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