The African Women in Tech is an initiative by Anie Akpe. She is the founder of IBOM LLC, a company that provides small business education and assistance to Africans in the Diaspora Community. They do this with seminars, cultural and technological events.
The African Women in Technology event series on its part was “born out of a desire to connect, educate and empower women determined to advance their tech careers.” They aimed to “provide opportunities and a safe space for women to grow and lead in the tech space.”
So, on 29th and 30th March 2019, there was a convergence of Nigerian women in tech, tech enthusiasts and students at the Zone Tech Park, Gbagada, Lagos. The two-day event had very educative panels made up of knowledgeable and influential women in tech across Africa.
On Friday, 29th March, the keynote speaker Cleopatra Douglas, a software developer at Flutterwave, took the attendants on a journey with her speech on “The First Women in Tech.” She spoke about Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper. Lovelace wrote the first programming language that formed the basis for what could have been the first computer. Hopper invented the use of English words as a programming language instead of just mathematical formulas.
She also spoke about the women that inspired the film Hidden Figures and the phenomenal works Dorothy Vaughn and her cohorts, Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson, did for NASA. Vaughn had self-learned the Fortran programming language used for IBM at the time. She went on to become a supervisor and started teaching it to others, first her friends, other women of colour and then white women. These stories were very inspiring to the attendants who confirmed they did not know some of these women and their impact on technology.
The first panel had Tejumade Afonja, an AI Engineer at InstaDeep; Fatima Aruna, an artificial intelligence enthusiast and student of the University of Lagos; Chantel Luther, QA Lead at TechFINIUM Limited; and Simi Lawoyin, Programs Manager and Technical Assistant to the Education Special Adviser in Lagos.
These women spoke passionately about Artificial Intelligence. Afonja explained that Machine Learning is simply getting data and extracting relevant information from the data to make decisions. On the future of AI, they say it is still work in progress. Luther said Super AI predicts that in 30-40 years from now machines will be more intelligent than humans. She added that the technology is still in an experimental phase.
Young people were also urged to attend AI Saturdays. It is 16 Saturdays of lectures for learning data science, machine learning and deep learning. More information on this will be available here on Plat4om soon.
The next panel was on BlockChain. First, they clarified that Bitcoin and BlockChain are two different things. Bitcoins are built off BlockChain technology. BlockChain was also simplified by Anele Makhwaza, a FinTech expert from New York. She termed BlockChain as simply a record-keeping system. Other panellists were Gbonjubola Amuda, Software Engineer at Flutterwave and Tolulope Omoleye-Osindero, a financial services lawyer.
They charged the attendants to start exploring ways to use the BlockChain technology to solve problems in health, fashion and education. They say the best time to be a part of the technology is now. There are other areas that can benefit apart from the financial sector which is currently being used widely for BitCoin.
The next panel was an interesting conversation on Cybersecurity and how people need to stay safe online. The regulations around the technology and how people need to do better with avoiding being victims of cybercrimes. The panel had Eva Etese, IT Professional and Social Media expert, and Ngozi Aderibigbe, a Data Protection expert.
The panel on the Transition to the Internet of Things had Kafilat Adedeji who specialises in farming technology. Also present was Glory Okubo Ori-Jesu, a Senior Software Engineer and Justina Adeosun, an ED Tech Trainer and Technology Coach. They explained the internet of things technology as one that gives users the liberty to work remotely from anywhere. Adedeji explained how one can monitor their farms here in Nigeria from as far as Australia with the help of this technological advancement.
Panelists, Technology and Business Management professional, and the Founder of CAWSTEM (Connecting African Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Wamide Egunjobi; Senior Business Service Manager at Interswitch, Tolulope Obianwu; Software Developer and Founder iBez Nigeria, Ommo Clark; and Founder and Managing Partner at Audeo, Abimbola Bamigboye spoke on Data, Data and more Data. It was an informative session on where data will take us and how important is. Data, they say, is life. The ability to be able to visit search engines and actually access a world of information is a plus to technology.
Speaking on tech trends were Tosin Faniro-Dada, the head of Startups (Lagos Innovates) at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, and Zoussi Ley, co-founder of the startup company, Complete Farmer in Ghana. They spoke on the trends in technology now and how startups can tap into it.
The final panel of the day had women from HR on the panel to speak on how to “UpGrade Your Skills – HR at a Tech Firm.”
The second day of the event had speakers from different sectors speaking on Branding, Digital media, EdTech and E-Commerce. The keynote speech was by Sandra Ezekwesili on “Disruptive Media; How Tech is changing the world of media.” The event rounded off with pitches from different participants.
The event was sponsored by Google, FlutterWave and IBOM LLC. The next Africa Women in Tech event will be taking place in Nairobi, Kenya from 18th to 20th July 2019.