To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, ITU News is running a special series of blog posts on women in information and communication technologies (ICTs).
All week, we’re featuring stories about women in tech and global programmes to accelerate the pace of progress for gender equality in ICTs.
As an African woman who studied and worked in the United States for fifteen years, I am fortunate to have worked for leaders committed to gender inclusion. This allowed me to start as a developer and grow through the ranks to eventually serve on leadership teams of top multinational technology companies.
Now, as Chief Strategy Officer for Andela, I’m helping to build the next generation of global technology leaders. But my story is all too rare.
What about the millions of young African women who could be rock-star developers and IT leaders? How can they get a better shot at success? And how can the world benefit from the ICT innovation they could unleash?
Consider that there are five open jobs for every software developer looking for one in the United States. Africa, meanwhile, has the youngest, fastest-growing population on Earth, with more people joining the labour force over the next twenty years than the rest of the world combined. Recognizing this potential, Andela launched two years ago to create an enabling environment for Africans to learn, innovate and access the right tools to do so.
Grooming Africa’s finest
Andela recruits the most talented developers on the African continent, shapes them into technical leaders, and places them as full-time team members with companies that range from global enterprises such as Microsoft and IBM to dozens of high-growth startups.
With offices in Lagos and Nairobi, we already see the power of collaboration across borders and the possibilities to apply thought leadership to support how regional industries mature, innovate and disrupt the status quo.
We recognize technology can breed privilege and thus drive a business model built to expand the access to knowledge.
Andela operates a self-funding model of education. Instead of charging tuition, we enable our developers to finance their own education through their work. As a result, Andela attracts and selects top talent based on proven methodology that evaluates one’s propensity to learn even if they have never written a line of code before.
This is why it gives me great pride to realize what I always knew to be possible, and now experience, as part of Andela.
We are proving that it is possible to unlock opportunities at a growing scale all while providing real business value for some of the world’s leading technology companies.
It’s not Andela’s mission that leads more than 90 per cent of our company partners to ask about bringing on additional developers from Nigeria and Kenya within the first six months of working with us — it’s the raw talent, incredible drive, and passion to change the world through technology that these young men and women possess.
Andela is committed to driving change for women in technology — not just because closing the ICT gender gap is the right thing to do, but also because it is a tremendous economic opportunity.
According to a recent report published by the McKinsey Global Institute, if “every country narrowed the gender gap at the pace of the fastest improving country in its regional peer group the world could add USD 12 trillion to the annual gross domestic product in 2025.” The report states this would be 11 per cent higher than if those countries continued with the status quo.
At Andela we believe there is no excuse for having fewer female software developers. Based on open source research, aptitude assessments, and the satisfaction of our clients, we know that talent is gender neutral. Currently, one in four of our developers is a woman — nearly four times Stack Overflow’s estimated global average of 5.8 per cent female developers.
Yet we still have work to do, which is why Andela has launched initiatives like She Loves Code to recruit all-female cohorts, mentor young women in tech, and ensure a safe, secure, and fair work environment.
Andela is one organization in a much larger ecosystem working on what often feels like a nebulous task: to ensure that girls and women do not lose out on opportunities, but instead that they are given the support to grow and thrive.
A lot more still needs to be done in solidarity for what is right in equity and parity but if that does not inspire, hopefully the untapped potential to enhance innovation and growth by including the gender that comprises the largest population of the consumer base does. Let’s see how we can work together to accelerate what is possible.
This article first appeared in ITUNews
FG Launches Central Database for Stolen Asset Tracing
Federal government has launched a Central Database under the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations (ARTM), 2019 and the Central Criminal Justice Information System (CCJIS) under the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2017 – 2011 to assist in the fight against corruption.
Mr Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, at the launch in Abuja, said the database will ensure uniformity of process, access and information feeding to deepen transparency and accountability in the management of recovered assets.
To ensure compliance, he said his office is developing legislation for the full implementation and operation of the CCJIS.
“We will work together to establish and re-enact transparency and accountability in governance and management of our resources which we have committed to do by way of strengthening International Cooperation of our membership of Open Government Partnership,” he said.
In his speech, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by Mrs Ugonna Ozurigbo, chairman, House Committee on Justice, said the regulation on Asset Tracing, Recovery and proper management of proceeds of crime was signed on October 24, 2019, and took effect from November 1, 2019, replaced the proceeds of Crime Regulation of 2012.
The new regulation titled Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 empowers the AGF to take charge of the custody and management of all final forfeited assets, approval and appointment of asset managers and operating and maintaining a database for the records of all recovered assets within and outside Nigeria.
He said, the AGF’s office, under the new regulation, is also required to coordinate inter-agency investigations into recovery matters within and outside Nigeria from all law enforcement agencies whose law empowers them to undertake recoveries and maintaining a depository for all forfeiture orders issued by the Nigeria courts and courts outside Nigeria.
Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management, according to the Speaker, is a core value of good governance and its effective management will serve as a deterrent to would-be fraudulent minded individuals who may find themselves in public offices.
According to him, states resources must not be allowed to be stolen but if that happened by fraudulent individuals, efforts must be taken to trace the proceed, recover same and manage for the interest of the generality of the people.
“When the proceeds of crime are traced and recovered but again looted by government officials, I dare to say such act amounts to the crime of tertiary capacity and must be avoided.
“Assets not accounted for are assets lost; loss of assets undervalues the economic potential of a country and will negatively impact on the net worth of a country. Accordingly, Asset Tracing Recovery and Management is a panacea to rekindling of the value system of a nation,” the Speaker noted.
Konga Bulk Debuts Monday
Konga, Nigeria’s foremost ethical and innovative composite e-Commerce brand is set to unveil a revolutionary new solution – Konga Bulk – which the company says will represent the new normal for forward-thinking businesses and consumers in the Nigerian corporate space.
Equally important, Konga Bulk, the latest innovation from the e-Commerce giant, is set to go live on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Through this initiative, Konga is rolling out a mega platform which has been touted a potential game-changer, offering manufacturers, distributors, resellers as well as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) an opportunity to take advantage of Konga’s world class assets including its secure regional warehouses, smart offices, cutting-edge technology, advanced logistics capabilities through an internally-owned subsidiary, Kxpress and its Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed payment platform known as KongaPay.
This is in addition to leveraging Konga’s e-Commerce engine and extensive marketing expertise in bringing their products and services to the consciousness of millions of Nigerians nationwide.
In other words, Konga is taking a huge burden off the shoulders of manufacturers and other business owners in Nigeria through this ambitious project.
By allocating physical office and warehouse spaces to partner businesses and placing its many other cutting-edge assets at their disposal, Konga is ushering many into the new normal by bringing succour to corporate entities, many of whom have been encumbered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Konga Bulk will play a very important role, bridging the gap to genuine products and services between manufacturers, distributors, resellers, bulk buyers and consumers.
Resellers and other bulk buyers can also take advantage of best prices available for genuine products exclusively through Konga Bulk.
Kalu Johnson, vice president, Strategic Business, said businesses who sign up on Konga Bulk have a lot to gain.
‘‘Konga Bulk is a very ambitious project which we have positioned as the new normal.
“It is a unique opportunity for manufacturers to take advantage of the huge assets and real estate, both physical and virtual, available at Konga.
‘‘We have invested significantly and strategically in various areas of our operations.
“Today, Konga owns arguably the largest single warehouse space in Lagos in addition to other similar massive infrastructure in other parts of the country such as Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Abuja, Owerri and other locations.
‘‘As a manufacturer, distributor or business owner signed up on Konga Bulk, you no longer have to worry about owning your own office or warehouse space. Nor do you have to bother about the heavy investment in logistics, delivery, payment solution, technology, marketing or activations.
“You can rely on Konga’s world class competencies and assets in these areas.
‘‘Businesses must find a way to rebound from the difficulties occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Konga Bulk, which is focused on ushering in the new normal, is one of the innovations we have come up with to provide a way out,’’ he concluded.
Konga Bulk goes live online at www.konga.com and offline in every Konga retail store nationwide on Monday, September 21, 2020.
Access Bank Reaffirms Support for An Innovative, Smart Lagos State
Mr. Herbert Wigwe, managing director and chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, has said that Access Bank Plc will not relent in supporting innovative programmes aimed at transforming Lagos into a 21st century State driven by technology innovations.
Wigwe spoke yesterday during the finals of the Lagos State Smart Meter Hackathon design held at the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters in Lagos.
An initiative of the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Hackathon is aimed at providing affordable electricity meters to the populace by facilitating the design and production of meters that will accelerate efforts towards achieving improvement in energy distribution, monitoring and prevention of revenue leakage.
Wigwe who was represented by Mr Ade Bajomo, executive director, IT & Operations at Access Bank, said that supporting the Hackathon once more reinforces the Bank’s commitment to leveraging technology for the betterment of the society.
“Having Hackathon and innovative programmes like this, has always been part and parcel of our DNA in Access Bank. We are forever looking for new things to do to solve real problems in Africa and beyond; new things that would move the life of our people forward.
“We are always looking forward to doing things that would make more people financially independent, driving and enhancing the well-being of the entire society,” he said.
He noted that now the world is witnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and there are Africans working with the rest of the world and using technology to solve the problems of the people.
Wigwe stressed that Access Bank does not exclude the rest of the world when it comes to using technology innovations to address the problems of the people.
“That is why this Hackathon is very important because it’s our people solving our problems and leveraging global solutions to finding our answers to our own problems.
“And that is why at the Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), which Access Bank is promoting, we want to have more innovators and innovations that will help in transforming our society for the better,” he said.
The Access Bank boss stated that to see this Hackathon come to light shows the commitment of the Lagos State Government to not only the project, but to the actualization of a smart Lagos, where electricity is accessible and affordable.
He pledged Access Bank’s continued support to the Lagos State Government’s efforts at building a smart state.
Mr. Olalere Odusote, convener of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon and the State’s Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, said that there were very many talented people who applied for the Hackathon, noting that there were 65 submissions in all, out of which its panel of experts reduced the number to the five finalists that participated at the finals of the Hackathon.
“We had the hardware yesterday and we were very impressed with what we saw. We are expecting no less from the software side. We are going to get engaged, look at what they have to offer and then integrate it into our future.
“We are trying to solve our own problems by ourselves. This is just the start; it is not a one-off project. At the end of the event, we will take the product to our prototype mode; we will take the product to a commercial development process,” he said.
The Commissioner said they were not just doing the Hackathon for the sake of it but are looking for solutions that will contribute to making Lagos a 21st Century economy.
He thanked Access Bank for its generosity, support and partnership with the State government. He also thanked other partners for joining in the journey of making Lagos a great state.
Five contenders each emerged from both categories of the competition, and the two winners are expected to share the prize money of seven million naira.
Finalists were shortlisted after a transparent, rigorous and competitive process.
The Hackathon attracted 274 registrations or entries, 127 of which bid in hardware category, while 147 competed in software group.
The five software finalists for the Hackathon on Thursday were Magnitronics, Vectorians, Zeena Platform, Chosen Soft Tech and Gideon.
It would be recall that during the launch of the programme on July 30th, 2020, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu noted that the Smart Metre Hackathon Initiative marked a significant milestone in the implementation of the State Government’s plan towards improving access to electricity.
He said it aligned with the Sustainable Development Goal 7 of the United Nations, targeted at achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030.
The Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020 was convened by the Lagos State Ministry of Energy & Mineral Resources, curated by Eko Innovation Centre, and sponsored by Access Bank Plc, Egbin Power, and Ikeja Electric Distribution Company.
Other sponsors include Mojec International, Eko Electric Distribution Company, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company, ElSewedy Electric, Royal Power & Energy, Venture Garden Group, InfraCredit, and Axxela Limited.
They were supported by the Lagos State Office of Innovation and Technology, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF), Oracle, IBM, General Electric, Business Day and Accelerate TV.
The Grand Finale of the Hackathon holds on Friday, September 18, 2020 at Eko Innovation Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.
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