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Women in Datacentres must be Prioritised

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By Faith Waithaka, Cloud and Service Provider Segment Sales Lead: Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric

As the African datacentre sector emerges as an important global player gender diversity must undoubtedly also keep pace with this growth.  Unfortunately, current estimates are not promising; a recent report by the Uptime Institute states that three-quarters of datacentre operators employ 10% or less women.

Similarly, a study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveals that women make up a mere 16% of the traditional energy sector’s workforce, again highlighting a substantial gender gap. Moreover, women in the sector face a pay disparity of 20% compared to their male counterparts.

The reality is achieving sustainability goals and staying ahead of digitalisation curve, require a diverse and innovative workforce. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not just ethical imperatives; it represents a strategic business imperative that drives creativity and foster innovation.

At this important juncture, industry leaders from across the continent must come together to pave the way for increased female representation in the datacentre sector.

The recent establishment of the African Women Business Energy Network (AWBEN) by the African Energy Chamber is an important step in the right direction.  The chamber aims to foster a supportive community for women in the energy and datacentre industry. This initiative recognises that as the energy sector expands, so does the imperative for more women to participate.

AWBEN’s key initiatives include inciting collaboration among African women in the energy industry, hosting mentorship programmes and empowering women to take ownership of their personal and professional development, offering coaching and sponsorship opportunities for girls in STEM, creating avenues to encourage more African women-participation and leadership roles in the energy industry.

Addressing cultural, social and skills challenges

One of the challenges hindering female participation in the datacentre industry is the influence of cultural and social norms. Here, the industry must come together to not only attract women to the sector but to also break barriers that may discourage them from pursuing roles.

By dismantling these historic challenges, we can create an environment where women feel empowered to contribute meaningfully to the data centre industry. One of the areas where there is a need for change, is women in leadership. Young women thinking about their career options may be deterred from entering an industry where there are few women leaders.  This needs to change.

Furthermore, to secure the future of sustainable datacentres in Africa, the industry must invest in both inspiring and retaining the next generation of skilled professionals. This begins with encouraging young talent, especially girls, to pursue STEM subjects from an early age.

Supporting initiatives such as Girls in Data and Woman in Data and establishing mentorship programmes are crucial steps in a more equally represented datacentre industry.

At Schneider Electric, we continue to prioritise programmes that uplift women such as ‘How Women Rise’ and ‘Still, I Rise’.  This year we also launched a women’s forum across Anglophone Africa, aptly named the Schneider Electric Ladies Forum (SELF) that aims to promote the fostering of ‘self’ in terms of wellbeing, development, and empowerment.

Globally, we have also been recognised by Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for our efforts to increase gender equity through an inclusive and caring environment.


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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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NCC Temporarily Suspends Issuance of New Licenses

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has temporarily suspended the issuance of new licenses in some categories.

NCC Temporarily Suspends Issuance of New Licenses

The commission said the categories included interconnect exchange license, mobile virtual network operator license and value added service aggregator license.

Reuben Mouka, director of Public Affairs, NCC,  in a statement in Abuja on Friday, said the commission acted in line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003.

“This temporary suspension is necessary to enable the commission to conduct a thorough review of several key areas within these categories, including the current level of competition, market saturation and current market dynamics.

“The public is invited to note that during the suspension period commencing on May 17, new application for the aforementioned licenses will not be accepted.

“This is without prejudice to pending applications before the commission will be considered on their merits.

“Any enquiry or clarification in respect of this suspension notice should be forwarded to: [email protected],” NCC said.

 

 

 

 


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Cable Cuts Expose Vulnerabilities in Africa’s Internet Infrastructure

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The vulnerability of East Africa’s countries was starkly revealed once again in the aftermath of the damage inflicted upon an undersea cable, leading to widespread internet outages across the region.

Cable Cuts Expose Vulnerabilities in Africa's Internet Infrastructure

According to Business Day Africa, this incident marks the third cable cut this year, plunging millions of users in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda into a state of connectivity limbo.

The disruption caused by the severance of two vital submarine cables- the East Africa Submarine System (EASSy) and Seacom, resulted in significant delays in internet access, so much so that operations at the US embassy in Dar es Salaam had to be suspended.

EASSy spans a staggering 10,000 kilometres along the eastern coast of Africa, boasting nine landing stations strategically positioned in Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Tanzania bore the brunt of the outage, experiencing the most severe disruptions, as evidenced by data from the Internet Outage Tracker, compelling the embassy to halt its services for a period of two days.

This latest incident follows a series of challenges earlier this year when connectivity in East Africa was hampered by damage sustained by three submarine cables traversing the Red Sea.

Internet users in East Africa have been grappling with intermittent connections since Sunday, May 12, 2024.

The International Cable Protection Committee attributes the damage to a probable encounter with the anchor of a cargo ship, allegedly targeted by the Yemen-based Houthi rebel group.

However, repair efforts have been impeded by ongoing tensions surrounding access rights to the affected waters.

Commenting on the situation, Bright Simons, research lead at the IMANI Center for Policy and Education in Ghana, lamented the lack of a comprehensive regional framework for telecom emergencies in East Africa, according to SemaFor news.

He noted that despite the region’s advanced regional integration initiatives, similar to those seen in the Southern African Customs Union and Francophone units, the absence of such mechanisms has left operators scrambling to establish ad hoc cross-border arrangements.


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Nigeria’s Omoniyi Ibietan, elected Secretary-General of APRA

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Omoniyi Ibietan, Head Media Relations at the Nigerian Communications Commission, fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and African Public Relations Association (APRA), has just been elected the Secretary-General of APRA at the ongoing 35th Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Ibietan has promised to work with other members of the Executive Council to continue the trajectory of reforms in APRA, expand the democratic space by encouraging greater participation of national public relations institutions on the Continent and work more closely with the African Union Commission and Council of Ministers to put public relations at the heart of policy, programmes, and project implementation. Ibietan was elected into a three-man Executive Council. The other two members are Arik Karani (Kenya), President, and Dr. Michele Mekeme (Cameroon), Vice President.

OMONIYI P. IBIETAN is a journalist, writer, and author. As Head of Media Relations Management at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), where he oversees aspects of the public communication strategy of the national regulatory authority for telecommunication in Nigeria. Earlier in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, he was Special Media Advisor to the Federal Minister of Information and Communication.

He has over 20 years of experience in media and communication scholarship and practice, spanning journalism, academia, policy discourse, communication strategy, regulation, and stakeholder relations.

He earned BA and MA in Communication Arts and Communication & Language Arts from the Universities of Uyo and Ibadan in Nigeria, respectively, graduating atop his classes. Earlier, he obtained a diploma in journalism with distinction from the Moscow-Based International Institute of Journalism.

He holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the North-West University in South Africa, with specialisation in political communication. He is a IP3 certified regulation specialist and holds a mini MBA in telecommunications from NEOTELIS in Paris.

He is also a member of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE), an Associate Registered Practitioner of Advertising (arpa) and member of the International Institute of Communications (IIC), the world’s only policy debating platform for the converged communications industry.

As a scholar, he focuses on patterns of political communication through new media; media and culture studies; and theoretical & normative foundations of communication in relation to democracy and freedom. He is on the faculty of the Nigerian campus of Italy-based Rome Business School (RBS), where he teaches doctoral students PR & Advertising and Media Management & Communication Strategy. He also facilitates learning to students in the Master of Corporate Communication programme at RBS.

His first book, SOCIAL MEDIA, SOCIAL DEMOGRAPHY, AND VOTING BEHAVIOUR IN NIGERIA, was published by Premium Times Books in Washington in May 2023.

He has travelled extensively in Africa, North America, Europe, and Asia.

He is married, has children, plays tennis and scrabble, loves reading and writing, and loves meeting people, especially people from other cultures.

At the ongoing conference, Ibietan presented the first paper at the commencement of business sessions. The title of his paper is DIGITAL INCLUSION AS ARBITER OF ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC RELATIONS: A CASE OF NIGERIAN COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION.

Using Castells’ Theory of the Network Society and the Knowledge Gap Theory and based on the actions of the Nigerian government through the activities of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ibietan advanced a thesis that digital inclusion is the arbiter of digital public relations.

Through implementation of laws, policies, guidelines, developmental regulation, collaborative partnerships, social investments, operational efficiency and ancillary actions that are consequential and quantifiable, and using copious pictorial evidence, Omoniyi discoursed a perspective that NCC’s digital inclusion programmes, projects and activities are foundational to digital economy because investment in and coordination of expansion of digital infrastructure, demonstrating their affordances and enhancing people’s access to such resources, constitute the building blocks and raison d’être of digital economy and inherently digital public relations.

APRA, the successor to the Federation of African Public Relations Association (FAPRA), instituted in Nairobi in 1975, exists to foster unity of Africans and their global allies through interactions and exchange of meaning. Pivoted on standardisation of public relations practice and scholarship on the Continent to enhance its relevance to the African reality, APRA member states and individuals meet annually at a location in any of its regional centres (East, North, South, West, Central, Indian Ocean Islands, and Francophone) to have a conversation with a thematic focus on any of its key intervention areas (Health & Education, Economic Integration, Good Governance, Tourusm & Leisure, and Infrastructure Development). This year’s theme is ‘ONE AFRICA, ONE VOICE: BRIDGING AFRICA’S COMMUNICATION DIVIDE’.

APRA Côte d’Ivoire 2024 is endorsed by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, the Holding Opinion & Public (THOP), and major global PR associations, namely the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), The International Communications

Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA), the African Union Commission (AUC), and PR national associations across the continent.

Additionally, the conference featured the eighth edition of the Innovation Summit (IN2SUMMIT) and includes the seventh edition of the SABRE Awards Africa, holding tonight.

The APRA secretariat is in Nigeria, and the body maintains an observer status with the African Union.


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