Rwandan based Akaliza Gara, founder of ICT company, Shaking Sun and Yambi Animation Studios, says one of the most challenging aspects of being in the ICT sector is overcoming gender stereotypes.
“The stereotypical image of an ICT expert is a young white man so many young girls grow up without even considering the field because they see ICT and technology in general as a boy’s thing.”
The lack of women in the ICT industry is an issue across the continent; however, many women have taken advantage of the web to start businesses.
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According to the National Technical Development Agency there are approximately 48 million internet users in Nigeria. However, factors such as gender inequality and a lack of education women have been deprived of the opportunities in ICT.
One woman taking full advantage of the internet is, Nigerian business woman Ommo Clark. She has started many ICT businesses from her laptop including a software solutions company, a repair and maintenance company that links customers to certified trades people and an online jewelry store to name a few.
“In Nigeria, e-commerce has taken off in a big way… A lot of people work off of their laptops but they work from hubs, there are a lot of technology hubs, they work from coffee shops, they work from their bedrooms,” she said.
Programs across the continent such as ‘1000 Girls in Training’, ‘Seed Fund for Women + Girls in Computer Science’ and ‘TechWomen’ are slowing assisting in bridging the gender imbalance in the ICT sector.