Nov. 30, 2022
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), says only 12 per cent of women currently operate in the information and communication technology (ICT), sector in Africa.
Mr. Mactar Seck, Economic Affairs Officer at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said this at the ongoing Hybrid 17th Internet Governance Forum (IGF), holding in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.
It has as theme: “Resilient Internet for a Shared Sustainable and Common Future”.
Seck spoke on the need to promote the representation of women.
“There is a substantial digital gap on the continent, with women representing 51 per cent of the population, yet only 20 per cent having access to the internet.
“Several studies have shown that if we can solve gender inequality, we can contribute three million dollars to the global GDP.”
The officer therefore identified two key programmes, established by the ECA, to build women’s capacity and skills to participate in the digital space.
He said one of such was the African Connected Girls initiative, launched in 2020, and had trained around 25,000 girls in Artificial Intelligence, coding, gaming and other uses of digital technology.
He named the second as the Tech Africa Women Initiative, launched in 2022, and which focused on building capacity for women’s start-ups.
Also, Ms Zanyiwe Asare, a member of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Consumer Advisory Panel, spoke on the need for technological justice to work side by side with technological innovation.
“The more technology advances, the more traditional roles become more obsolete; meaning less physical world-based intervention, and this means offences from both civil and criminal perspectives, occur online.”
Asare spoke on the need for players to be open to genuine collaboration, and creating avenues for bottom-up approaches, broad-based literacy programmes and awareness, and better law enforcement.
Furthermore, Sylvia Mukasa, Founder of GlobalX Investments Ltd, spoke on research, which had shown that gender and race were crucial areas to look at in emerging technologies.
“Only 22 per cent of Artificial Intelligence professionals globally are women, this poses a threat of gender bias.
“So, as these technologies are being adopted, we need to ensure that data is being used inclusively. We need to ensure these new technologies do not exacerbate existing inequalities,” Mukasa said.
Participants also spoke on the importance of promoting ICT skills development in schools, and improving gender parity in internet governance.
They also spoke on regulating cyberspace to prevent cybercrimes against women and other forms of prejudice, and formulating the right policies that would protect individuals and also spur governments to act proactively.
IGF brings together governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, and other partners.
They are to have open and inclusive discussions on how digital transformation can be harnessed to drive socio-economic development globally, while protecting the environment. (NAN)