Africa has some Fabulous Women in Tech

This is  a guest post by Deb Elzie, an Interaction Designer with a background in educational psychology, based part of her time in Kigali, Rwanda, Africa. She enjoys creating open learning incorporating social networking and new media, and has done a tremendous job by highlighting African women in tech.
Jepchumba (Photo Credit: African Digital Art)Africa is a rich mixture of countries and ethnicities and its women are equally diverse in their leadership. I found it interesting to take a look at some of the women who were noted in 2010 in tech and media. Just reading through Afrinnovator’s 2 part (part 1) (part 2) year-end review highlighted many women, but there were a few others that came to mind as well. While most of the stories of innovation are happening in Nairobi, I’m sure there will be more stories shared in 2011 as other innovation hubs take off.

In February, Afrinnovator published an interview with Kenyan blogger Njeri Wangari (@KenyanPoet). While blogging may be waning in popularity for some, I found her answers about blogging creating citizen journalists to be encouraging.

In March, Afrinnovator interviewed one of my favorites digital media artists – Jepchumba (see photo left, Photo Credit: African Digital Art) (@digitalafrican). She is the founder of the African Digital Art community. Each visit to the site's African Weekly Inspiration is a real treat. And “The District”, an online community for Africa’s creatives, is a great source of contacts.

Innovation hubs seem to be popping up all over the continent with iHub officially launching in March in Nairobi. You’ve probably all read about the work that Jessica Colaço (@jessicacolaco) has been doing as the iHub Manager. Check out this BBC video interview.

In April, Ethiopian Bruktawit Tigabu (@brukty) was named one of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise: Young Laureates Programme winners for her Whiz Kids Workshop which produces the "Tsehai Loves Learning" animated children's television show. The show helps young children learn good personal hygiene.

May was a busy month, as Shikoh Gitau and Sinini Ncube were both named recipients of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Award. Shikoh (@shikohtwit), a native Kenyan, now a PhD student in South Africa is developing m-Ganga, a mobile healer app. South African Sinini Ncube’s tech work involves visualizing outbreaks of zoonotic diseases.

In June, Elizabeth Mukasa (@Elizabethmukasa) from Uganda, was named as the winner of the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) “2010 Give Challenge a Change” for her work with a localized e-learning platform. She is Director of Opra Learning Centre for Inclusion.

In July, Zoopy hired South African media expert Juanita Williams (@juanitaw) to manage “I’ve Got News”.

In August, Business Daily interviewed Linnet Kwamboka about her myriad of tech projects and the AkiraChix's launch of the AkiShika project.

In November, AkiraChix again made the news as an AkiraChix team wins the IPO48 competition for their m-Farm app. The team of four participants included: Linda Kwamboka, Catherine Kiguru. Susan Eve, and Jamila Abass. Watch the Video Pitch of IPO48 Winner m-Farm. Read more of the story on iHub.

In November, the Mobisoko mobile applications marketplace was launched by Juliana Rotich (@afromusing). Read more at Timbuktu Chronicles.
Nmachi Jidenma (see photo right Photo Credit: Celebrating Progress Africa) (@nmachijidenma) launched Celebrating Progress Africa (@cpafrica) as a blog. Now Celebrating Progress Africa is making great inroads in publishing upbeat content about the continent. Read an in-depth interview conducted in November by Bella Naija's Editorial Assistant, Gbenga Awomodu.
December was also a busy month with Nelly Ndonye winning in Stage 1 with Samsung (@nellyndonye) for her Mobile App Nelly Data. Nelly Data is a mobile application for providing real time data from the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE).
There are many young women emerging in the tech and citizen journalism space. One of my favorite women involved is Maureen Agena (@maureenagena). Maureen works with Women of Uganda Network WOGNET's and was a recent regional winner of the ARYDIS Youth Essay Contest.

And if you somehow missed the news over the holiday break, Ushahidi Co-Founder Ory Okolloh (@kenyanpundit) is now Google’s New Policy Manager for Africa.

I’m sure there are many women that I missed reading about in 2010, I’d love to hear more about their stories. And the question is who will be the women tech and media innovators to watch in 2011?
One innovator that has my attention is Gladys Muhunyo (@muhunyogn) for her work related to combating e-waste. She is currently the Director of Africa Programmes at Computer Aid International and member of Linux Chix. Kenya.
This article has been published previously.

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