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Spotlight: Four women playing pivotal role in African telcos

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In the rapidly evolving telecommunication sector on the African continent, women have been emerging as powerful forces driving and shaping innovation in the sector.

From pioneering technological advancements to leading executive positions, women have been playing an important role in transforming the telecom industry across the continent. African women are breaking barriers, championing evolution, and striving to expand representation in digital workspaces.

We recognize that women remain underrepresented in Africa's tech ecosystem, yet there has been a visible rise in female leadership within the telecom sector, specifically in the past decade.

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of four African women who are playing a pivotal role in the African telecommunications ecosystem.

1. MTN Cameroon CEO Mitwa Ng'ambi

Currently serving as CEO for telecommunications operator MTN Cameroon, Mitwa Ng'ambi is a trailblazer and a visionary leader in the telecommunications industry.

Born and raised in Zambia, Ng'ambi has dedicated her career to expanding access to technology, fostering sustainable growth, and driving innovation in the rapidly evolving digital landscape on the continent.

A software engineer by training, Ng'ambi has also worked in MTN's Benin and Zambian operations as well as with other high-profile telcos in Senegal and Ghana. Before taking over as MTN Cameroon CEO, Ng'ambi oversaw the listing of MTN Rwanda as well as the establishment of its fintech subsidiary.

MTN Cameroon CEO Mitwa Ng'ambi.   (Source: MTN Group)
MTN Cameroon CEO Mitwa Ng'ambi.
(Source: MTN Group)

When asked about whether there was a gender balance in the ICT sector in Africa during an interview with Connecting Africa, she said she believed that there are countries that have quickly propelled themselves ahead of everybody else.

"But beyond that, I think we also, as a society, have quite a big role to play, creating those home environments that make young girls believe that they are just as good as boys, and it doesn't matter if they are a boy or a girl, technology or any other discipline is equally persuadable by both," she said.

"There are so many unique challenges and therefore opportunities that Africa faces as a continent. I don't believe there's anybody better placed to address those challenges or provide solutions than Africans themselves," Ng'ambi added.

2. Orange Middle East and Africa VP of Mobile Financial Services Aminata Kane Ndiaye

As the vice president (VP) of Mobile Financial Services (MFS) at Orange Middle East and Africa, Aminata Kane Ndiaye is a revolutionary figure in the telecommunications industry on the African continent. Having been at Orange for over 20 years, her role requires her to oversee the company's operations in 18 countries across the region.

While speaking to Connecting Africa in 2021, she advised women to dream big and know that there is a lot that they can achieve when they set some vision for themselves and work hard for it.

As a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech ecosystem, Ndiaye is a member of the Orange Group's Diversity and Inclusion Committee and has been recognized for her work of championing and promoting gender equality in the workplace.

Orange Middle East and Africa VP of MFS Aminata Kane Ndiaye.   (Source: Orange Group)
Orange Middle East and Africa VP of MFS Aminata Kane Ndiaye.
(Source: Orange Group)

Ndiaye believes that women and girls have the potential to be leaders in the technology industry and is committed to creating opportunities for them to succeed. She has implemented several initiatives to support women and girls in tech, such as the Orange Digital Center, the Orange Fab Center and the Orange Women's Leadership Program, to name a few.

3. Association of Comms and Technology CEO Nomvuyiso Batyi

Nomvuyiso Batyi has been playing a crucial role in South Africa's telecommunications industry. As the CEO of Association of Comms and Technology (ACT), her organization aims to facilitate seamless collaboration among South African network operators.

The body represents the country's major telcos on non-competitive industry matters and is led by Batyi, who is a former Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) councilor, while Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub acts as chairperson. South African telecom operators Cell C, Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Rain and Liquid Intelligent Technologies are part of the alliance, which was formed in 2021 and launched in August 2022.

Association of Comms and Technology (ACT) CEO Nomvuyiso Batyi.   (Source: ACT)
Association of Comms and Technology (ACT) CEO Nomvuyiso Batyi.
(Source: ACT)

Her passion for championing digital inclusion in the sector has seen her lead the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IRPMO) within South Africa's Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

In an interview with Connecting Africa when ACT launched, Batyi highlighted how important it was to her to ensure that underserved communities in rural South Africa are connected.

"For a person such as myself, who comes from a less privileged background and a township school, it has always been important to make sure that schools are connected," she told Connecting Africa.

Furthermore, in a video interview with Connecting Africa, Batyi said it was important for industry heads to speak with one voice to champion digital transformation in South Africa.

4. Telecel Ghana CEO Patricia Obo-Nai

With over 20 years' experience, Patricia Obo-Nai, CEO of Telecel Ghana, which operated as Vodafone Ghana before its rebranding in January, has been part of a group of women shaping the telecommunications industry, not only in Ghana but also on the African continent.

As the first Ghanaian woman to be appointed as Vodafone Ghana CEO, Obo-Nai has actively played a role in supporting women in technology and financial inclusion to improve their lives.

Telecel Ghana CEO Patricia Obo-Nai.   (Source: Telecel Ghana)
Telecel Ghana CEO Patricia Obo-Nai.
(Source: Telecel Ghana)

She is an advocate for digital inclusion and diversity in the telecommunications industry and has encouraged girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

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Under her leadership, the telco launched many initiatives aimed at supporting women and girls in tech. These include the Vodafone Women in Tech Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to women who are pursuing studies in STEM fields; Vodafone Girls Coding Club, which teaches girls the basics of coding and computer science; and the Vodafone Tech Lab, which gives women and girls a place to experiment with tech.

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*Top image source: Image by prostooleh on Freepik.

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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