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Opportunities for women in ICT

Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Pinky Kekana has called for the message that technology is an opportunity for women to participate in the economy and give them a chance at a better life, to be spread far and wide.

“We all need to take responsibility to educate young people about the dynamics and range of careers in the technology world, and especially young women and girls,” the Deputy Minister said.

She was speaking at the Women in ICT competition in Johannesburg on Friday which sought to open doors to future growth for women entrepreneurs.

Standard Bank and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) ran the competition where women running their own ICT companies stood a chance to win R300 000 to break through the barriers preventing their businesses from growing into substantial enterprises.

Simangele Mphahlele, CEO and founder of Ejoobi, was crowned the winner after a tough competition.

The other finalists, who made it to the top five, were:

-Nneili Mkholisi, with company 3D – Imo

-Rumbie Zawu, with company UApp

-Palesa Moloi, with company ParkUpp, and

-Lesedi Kgaka, with company OccuPi Space

Ejoobi enables organisations to communicate, collect and create a database of hard to reach job seekers.

The company’s vision is to bring job seekers closer to their dream jobs and expose Internet-less job seekers to employment opportunities. Job seekers can send their CVs via SMS and receive job alerts.

Mphahlele told SAnews the company was founded in 2016 and has so far placed 60 unemployed people in permanent positions.

“We have been successful in placing a number of job seekers into permanent positions. Once the job seekers have uploaded their CVs, they get alerts and they can also respond to the alerts or communicate directly with the employers,” Mphahlele said.

She said the service platform enables companies or employers to reduce the costs of recruitment and there are no placement fees.

“We take away the pain of finding and recruiting the right candidates while the organisations focusing on business,” she said.

According to Mphahlele, they have received more than 3500 applications and are on track assisting the job seekers to get placements.

The Deputy Minister said as August is Women’s Month, it is a time to celebrate the successes that have been achieved by women and it is also a time to plan how to overcome the challenges and gaps that still exist.

She said despite decades of progress made towards achieving equality in the workplace, especially in the field of technology, women are still under-represented.

The imbalance between men and women in the technology sector is unlikely to be remedied any time soon, unless corporates, governments, schools and universities work together to change entrenched perceptions about the technology industry being a “male industry”.

She said as a leader of a women’s organisation in the African Union, she is extremely encouraged by Mastercard’s Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship for 2018 which revealed an extremely vibrant market for female-led businesses in Africa.

“Our Ghanian sisters top the global list. It is Ghana, yes Ghana, that performs the best worldwide in women making up 46.4% of business owners. Russia is 2nd at 34.6%, and another African country, Uganda is 3rd with 33.8%,” the Deputy Minister said.

Kekana said it is sad that South Africa is three quarters down the list with 18.8%.

According to WEF, in South Africa, women earn 60 cents for each rand earned by men. The lack of female representation in the workforce and especially in leadership positions is another barrier to gender equality.

“Over the last few years, the immense size of the African market has drawn very high-profile investors and global tech giants, mainly due to the increased smartphone adoption and lower internet costs.”

Women are increasingly making inroads into the ICT arena, an area where access to markets is a ‘make or break’ activity.

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