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How Business can Build Future Career Paths for Women in AI and Emerging Tech

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The underrepresentation of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields continues to persist.  This is despite progress being made in gender equality and equity over the last decade.

According to the latest UNESCO report on gender-responsive education, too many girls and women are held back by biases, social norms and expectations influencing the quality of the education they receive and the subjects they study. Girls are particularly under-represented in developing countries in the African continent; particularly around STEM education and, consequently, in STEM careers.

This gender disparity is alarming, especially as STEM careers are the jobs of the future. Think AI, workplace 4.0, driving innovation, social wellbeing, inclusive growth and sustainable development. This article seeks to understand the role of business in breaking the gender divide and how businesses can bridge this gap and create women leaders of the future.

Salesforce empowers women in AI

The greatest challenge to advancing gender equality in the workplace, particularly in the technology industry, is addressing women’s under-representation in emerging roles, such as AI as well as in cloud computing, engineering and Data, according to Ursula Fear, Senior Talent Programme Manager at Salesforce.

Across all sectors, systems need to become more equitable. To open up the technology industry specifically, the role of business to address the issue of equity should begin with education. Encouraging more women to enter STEM fields  will help businesses address women’s under-representation in emerging roles such as cloud computing, engineering, data and AI.

“Addressing this challenge starts long before a woman enters the workforce. We need to work together – as education institutes, as business, as caregivers – to help cultivate an interest in ICT among young girls by exposing them to all the possibilities ICT holds,” says Fear.

“A successful outcome would be the day that we no longer need to talk about girls or women in ICT as a specific focus area. In the meantime we need to keep nurturing potential, interrogating how to make ICT more appealing to girls and women, and actively debunk any remaining stigmas, myths and stereotypes around ICT being a male field,” adds Fear.

Beyond Bias: Huawei’s Drive for Women in STEM Unlocks Futures 

It is imperative to acknowledge the progress made towards gender equality in STEM despite the ongoing societal and educational challenges deterring women from these fields.

According to Vanashree Govender, Senior Communications Manager at Huawei South Africa, Huawei’s commitment to ICT education and empowerment is demonstrated through initiatives like the Seeds for the Future and the Huawei Bursary Programme which actively targets a 50-50 gender split.

“Our commitment to connecting more South Africans to the internet, with our telco partners, and bringing the very latest technologies to SA, means that we are well placed to run big ICT training programmes in the country. These programmes actively target women participants, from students to women entrepreneurs.”

Huawei’s Women in Tech programme, in partnership with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies in South Africa, provides crucial exposure to new technologies like 5G, Cloud and AI to women entrepreneurs and ICT students to advance their digital skills and prepare for the future workplace.

These initiatives are integral to creating an inclusive environment and equipping women with the necessary tools to excel in STEM without being limited by gender roles or accessibility challenges.

Uber champions female entrepreneurship, empowering women to drive

Over the years, the e-haling industry has been male-dominated. In recent times, however,  there has been a shift towards female e-hailing drivers taking up opportunities in this tech platform economy.

To aid and support women’s active participation and champion entrepreneurship in the South African economy, and through technology, Uber has launched several initiatives and in-app features to help women overcome the barriers that they face in their businesses. These include Women Rider Preferred, a feature that provides women with a choice in opting to be connected to women riders.

“We are especially proud to have been able to empower women in South Africa with access to new and flexible earning opportunities by providing them with the necessary resources to thrive and continue to improve their mobility and independence,” says Lorraine Onduru, Head of Communications, Sub-Saharan Africa, Uber

“Uber is committed to women earners and working with industry partners to remove any barriers that exist for women to get on the platform,” adds Lorraine

Future Forex take proactive steps to empower women in fintech sector 

As part of our commitment to addressing the gender divide in STEM roles, Future Forex  has taken proactive steps to empower and support women within the fintech sector. “We’re proud to have a strong representation of women, particularly in key leadership positions, across various departments within our organisation,” says Harry Scherzer, CEO of Future Forex.

“These talented women and all the females within their teams bring diverse skills, perspectives and expertise, contributing significantly to our company’s success and growth.

“An example of this is that, as part of our software engineering department, we have a seasoned female professional who has been instrumental in driving our technological advancements forward, demonstrating exceptional proficiency and dedication in her role,” says Scherzer. “Similarly, our Head of Trading is a science graduate who possesses a wealth of industry knowledge and strategic acumen, guiding our trading operations with precision and insight,” he adds.

Future Forex aren’t only addressing the gender divide by investing in the empowerment and capacity of women in STEM,  but also cultivating a talented and diverse female workforce that drives innovation and success for the future.

Creating purposeful spaces conducive for women in STEM 

Study after study across the world and various sectors have shown that by including and empowering women you accelerate sustainable development across all metrics, from health and education to food security and finance. “It is how we achieve a higher return on investment (ROI) in our quest to solve the challenges that plague our communities,” says Ayanda Mvandaba, CA(SA) and Entrepreneur.

“We must be purposeful about curating spaces that are conducive for women in STEM to create magic,” adds Mvandaba. In bridging the gap, the first point of call is, and always will be, access to information and opportunities. Mvandaba says businesses need to be intentional in how they choose to expose women in STEM in ways that boost their confidence and their skills and grow their networks.

“In order to address the gender divide with women in STEM roles, in my capacity as CEO of Drink Nil , I engage in mentorship relationships, provide sponsorships, emphasise continuous professional development, expose women to my network while teaching them to use the network effectively and the importance of social capital.” Mvandaba, this year, has also launched the Ayanda Vabaza-Mvandaba Bursary for students going into any field within the commerce faculty at a South African University.


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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AfriLabs, Korea-Africa Foundation in Strategic Partnership to Boost African Innovation

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African hubs network AfriLabs has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Korea-Africa Foundation for a strategic partnership aimed at driving innovation and economic growth across the continent.

AfriLabs is a network organisation that is committed to driving innovation and entrepreneurship on the continent by bringing together technology hubs, startups, investors, and other key stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Having recently announced the admission of 16 new hubs, AfriLabs now has a network of 478 hubs across 260 cities in 53 African nations.

The Korea-Africa Foundation, meanwhile, aims to serve as a platform for collaboration between the private and public sectors, and to strengthen exchange and cooperation with African countries.

The collaboration between the two aims to bridge the gap between Korean and African startups by leveraging each other’s expertise and resources. This will be achieved through the exchange of insights on youth development, the launch of joint research initiatives, and the fostering of a dynamic ecosystem that cultivates talent and entrepreneurial spirit in both regions.

“At AfriLabs, we are dedicated to unlocking Africa’s full potential and generating wealth through strategic alliances. This partnership with the Korea-Africa Foundation unlocks a treasure trove of opportunities for startups, granting them access to a global network, invaluable resources, and unparalleled industry knowledge.

“Together, we will empower the next generation of African innovators and entrepreneurs, paving the way for sustainable development and a thriving economy,” said Anna Ekeledo, executive director of AfriLabs.


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$750m World Bank Loan:  FG May Reintroduce Telcoms, Gambling Taxes

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Federal government may reintroduce the controversial telecom tax and other fiscal measures to fulfill one of the conditions for The World Bank’s fresh $750 million loan to Nigeria.

$750m World Bank Loan:  FG May Reintroduce Telcoms, Gambling Taxes

Experts have however strongly opposed new taxes, calling them harmful to the sector’s survival and the larger economy.

But The World Bank in programme appraisal document, dated May 17, 2024, on the loan disbursement to Nigeria, said that $750 million loan to Nigeria will support the federal government’s policy reforms.

A copy of the plan’s document posted on the World Bank website indicated that the government might reintroduce the excises on telecom services, and EMT levy on electronic money transfers through the Nigerian Banking System among other taxes.

Recall that on June 13, Wale Edun, minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy, announced the approval of two financial support packages by the World Bank valued at $2.25 billion.

The loan consists of $1.5 billion for Nigeria’s reforms for economic stabilisation to enable transformation (RESET) development policy financing program (DPF) and $750 million for Nigeria’s accelerating resource mobilisation reforms (ARMOR) program-for-results (PforR).

In the programme appraisal document, the World Bank said the ARMOR programme contains revenue policy measures such as raising pro-health taxes on tobacco, and alcohol.

The Bretton Woods institution also said the programme contains the introduction of taxes on online betting and gambling, as well as new excise on telecommunication services.

Experts have however warned that these taxes would have severe consequences for investment and the operational viability of telecom companies.

According to them, higher taxes would hinder digitalization efforts, which are crucial for economic growth.

The proposed tax measures, according to the industry, are not only damaging to the telecom sector but also to the broader economy.

 

 


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EFCC, Flutterwave to Establish Cybercrime Centre for Security of Transactions

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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Flutterwave, unicorn payments technology company have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to establish and a state-of-the-art Cybercrime Research Centre.

EFCC, Flutterwave to Establish Cybercrime Centre for Security of Transactions

Areas of focus of the centre include advanced fraud detection and prevention, policy development, as well as youth empowerment.

The fintech company with fortunes worth over $1bn headquartered in San Francisco with footprints in Nigeria and other African countries said the centre would also provide a “sustainable lifeline to youths across the country”.

To this effect, the Silicon Valley-based company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the anti-graft agency in Abuja.

Ola Olukoyede, chairman, EFCC; Olugbenga Agboola, founder, Flutterwave; Christopher Gray, director of Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); and other senior officials from both the EFCC and the FBI witnessed the signing of the MoU

Specifically, the MoU was signed by Mohammadu Hammajoda, secretary, EFCC and Agboolaof Flutterwave.

Olukoyede said, “This partnership marks a significant leap forward in our efforts to combat financial crimes and ensure a secure financial landscape for Nigerians. The Cybercrime Research Centre will significantly enhance our capabilities to prevent, detect, and prosecute financial crimes.”

On his part, Agboola said, “This initiative underscores our commitment to creating a fraud-free financial ecosystem and leading the charge in safeguarding transactions across Africa.

“We applaud the EFCC’s relentless efforts to combat internet fraud and other illicit activities in the financial sector.”

The Cybercrime Research Centre, to be established at the new EFCC Academy in Abuja, would serve as a hub for advanced research, training, and capacity building in the fight against financial crimes.

Areas of focus of the centre include advanced fraud detection and prevention, collaborative research and policy development, youth empowerment and capacity building, technological advancement and resource enablement, among other key areas.

“Advanced Fraud Detection and Prevention: Developing and implementing cutting-edge technologies to detect and prevent financial fraud. The centre will offer comprehensive training for law enforcement and industry professionals to combat modern financial crimes effectively.

“Collaborative Research and Policy Development: Engaging in joint research initiatives and policy formulation to enhance the understanding and regulation of financial crime. The centre will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practices between the public and private sectors.

“Youth Empowerment and Capacity Building: Providing high-end training and research opportunities for 500 youths, equipping them with the skills needed to navigate and excel in the digital economy.

“Technological Advancement and Resource Enablement: Creating a repository of advanced tools, technologies, and resources to support financial crime investigations, including protocols for addressing emerging threats such as cryptocurrency-related crimes,” the statement concluded.

Birthed in 2016 by Agboola, fondly referred to as GB, Flutterwave, with its corporate headquarters in San Francisco and operational head office in Lagos State, grew within a short time, penetrating the African market with customisable payments applications through its unique Application Programming Interface.

 

 


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