Every year since 2011, a ton of industry experts, and leaders, both local and international, have assembled in Lagos for the Mobile West Africa Conference, to accelerate the development of the mobile industry within the region. Mobile West Africa (MWA) 2016, which is set to hold on Wednesday and Thursday, the 20th and 21st of April, has stepped things up a notch by having an array of female contributors, paying particular attention to the changing dynamics in the industry’s ecosystem.
All over the world, the tech industry has not been a level playing field as women are under-represented. But in the last few years, there’s been a noted shift, particularly in the management dynamics of technology companies in Nigeria; women are gradually securing the top positions within top firms. This simply means that management and board meetings across Nigeria are paying attention to female voices, with fresh perspectives and styles of authority coming to the table. This is what companies like Google, Jumia, Uber, Praekelt, and MTech have in common – women leaders.
Considering the successes of these companies, having women at the forefront of the industry is certainly a welcome development and an important milestone worthy of recognition, however, the industry still has a long way to go in terms of bridging the gender gap. There are opinions that these appointments are not significant; that female candidates have been given the top jobs because of their reliability and reputation for a steady hand. This view doesn’t correlate with the substantial recruitment processes that have been undertaken prior to these appointments made. Neither does it agree with the superb résumés that these individuals hold, nor their past and current performances.
These women have been selected to run top companies as they have all the attributes required to drive these market-leading organisations forward in innovative, agile ways. The appointments are not token gestures, they are measured leadership appointments. But most significantly, these appointments have created a generation of female role models and mentors in the tech industry. This will inspire more women to work at, run and establish tech companies, as well as lead to positive impact on the creation of content, products and services designed for female consumers.
This is why the 2016 edition of MWA is hosting a panel of female speakers – market-leading experts from top tech companies. The founders, CEOs and directors from Etisalat, iROKO Partners, Singularity Investments, Ajala Digital, MEF and Diageo, all women, will be speaking at the conference. They will not be speaking on gender equality, instead they will proffer valuable insight to help structure the future development of the mobile industry, which is exactly what the conference has been about since its inception.