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Ghana: African Development Bank, technology stakeholders seek to bridge Africa’s digital gender gap
‘Unlocking Africa’s Digital Future’ was the theme of the 2018 Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology (#TechWomenAfrica) convened by the African Development Bank in collaboration with the World Wide Web Foundation on 9 – 11 October 2018.
Other co-sponsors of the summit were the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Ghana’s Ministry of Communications, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, the Internet Society, Facebook and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation, Germany.
Over 250 participants attended the three-day summit, including Africa’s leading technology innovators, entrepreneurs, policy makers and change agents. The summit came as the world is set to reach 50 percent connectivity.
Discussions focused on the socio-economic, policy and regulatory issues around digital access, affordable broadband access, digital education and skills. Women's rights online, and digital entrepreneurship to ensure women and girls benefit from the opportunities afforded by emerging technologies, were also discussed.
A key highlight of the event was the Bank-sponsored ‘power breakfast’ session on the role of incubators and venture capital financing in supporting female entrepreneurs in the technology sector. How to best support female entrepreneurs, policy and advocacy experts working in the technology industry also topped discussions.
Addressing summit participants during the opening ceremony, Hon. Vincent Sowah Odotei, Deputy Minister of Communications, Ghana said: “The Africa Summit on Women and Girls in technology offers a valuable platform to dialogue, share knowledge and experience and to collectively work towards designing solutions that will unlock a truly digital Africa where women and girls benefit from access to technology and the opportunities presented by the fourth industrial revolution.”
Digital technologies continue to transform societies but many women and girls, especially in developing countries, remain locked out of the digital revolution, due to social, cultural and institutional barriers. Research has shown that, globally, women are 50% less likely than men to be online. Across Africa, the connectivity gap is particularly acute, with nearly 75 percent of the population offline.
For the African Development Bank, bridging the digital gender gap is a critical step towards the vision of a thriving Africa.
Prominent discussants at the summit included Hon. Vincent Sowah Odotei, Deputy Minister of Communications, Ghana; Dr. Omobola Johnson, former Minister of Communication Technology in Nigeria; Bitilokho N’diaye, Gender Technical Advisor at the Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications, Posts and Digital Economy in Senegal.
The summit aligns with the Bank’s Gender Strategy to increase the economic empowerment of women. It supports the Bank’s goals of poverty alleviation, sustainable economic growth, gender equality and entrepreneurship. It also aligns with three of Bank’s ‘High 5’ priorities, namely, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.