In honour of women’s day in South Africa, ITNewsAfrica is profiling 10 leading women who have made significant contributions to Africa’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector and occupy high profile positions in this fast paced, and sometimes cut throat industry.
The ICT industry provides endless opportunities for Africans to advance their careers and although it is still largely male-dominated, the following women have made great strides in changing the face of the industry on the continent.
The global community is moving towards the digital age and what better way to celebrate Africa’s Innovation than to laude the achievements of the rising, smart and assertive African women in the technology sector.
Here’s our list of top 10 African women in ICT, in no particular order:
1. Nombulelo Moholi
Nombulelo was appointed Telkom SA CEO in March 2011 after a lengthy evaluation process. She became the first black woman to head up a JSE listed telecommunications company in South Africa. Moholi is a qualified engineer with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from University of Cape Town. Moholi has completed executive management programmes at Stanford and Harvard University.
Nombulelo has over 23 years experience in the telecoms industry. She joined Telkom as GM of payphones in 1994 and spent 11 years at the helm. She then moved to Nedbank for 3-year tenure as a chief strategy and corporate affairs officer. She subsequently returned to Telkom SA as MD for the business unit.
2. Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe
Thoko is the CEO of Kutana Investments Group. She has vast experience in South Africa’s telecommunication industry, (including Managing Executive: Consumer Sales and Marketing at Telkom.. Mokgosi- Mwantembe has held several senior positions including divisional MD for Siemens, CEO of Alcatel SA and CEO of HP South Africa.
She currently sits on the Vodacom board of directors. Thoko holds an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry from Loughborough University and a BSc from the University of Swaziland. Thoko is a recipient of several awards including the 2007 BWA Businesswoman of the Year Award in the corporate category, ICT Achiever of the Year Award, Top ICT Businesswoman in Africa Award and ICT Personality of the Year.
3. Felleng Sekha
Felleng is a non- executive director of Business Connexion, a South African black owned ICT company. She was also the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board deputy chairperson and has chaired the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and the National Telecommunications Forum. Ms. Sekha holds a BA in Law from the Universities of Lesotho (NUL) and LLB from Universities of Cape Town, and a post graduate diploma in Media Communications and Information Technology law from the University of Melbourne.
Sekha has worked for the Centre for the Development of Information and Telecommunications Policy, Telkom SA as corporate accounts manager, MTN SA as GM for business development and and led the team that successfully set up MTN in Nigeria from 2001 to 2005. She currently owns an NGO, Platinum Ring, whose aim is to create entrepreneurial and career opportunities for young South Africans.
4. Zandile Mbele
Zandile was appointed as Executive: Public Sector for Internet Solutions in 2010 and as Executive Director of Transformation for the Group in 2008. She plays a significant role as the group’s Executive Sponsor for some key Public Sector Accounts for Dimension Data, IS and Plessey.
Zandile serves as the Director of Plessey Pty (Ltd) and Chairperson of Plessey South Africa, and represents the Group on the board of National Association of Business (NAB). Zandile has more than twenty years experience in the Media, Regulatory and ICT sectors and has served as an Executive for Regulatory Affairs at Sentech, a state owned signal- distribution company; she represented Sentech in the High Frequency Co-ordination Committee (HFCC) a sector member of the ITU.
She also served on the first Parliamentary appointed Board of the Universal Service Agency, an organisation tasked with bridging the digital divide in South Africa.
Prior to joining Sentech Zandile held the following positions; General Manager: Group Corporate Marketing at Metropolitan Holdings and Managing Director at Hive Communications.Mbele has an MBA from Durham Business School, an MA in Journalism from City University in the UK and an Executive Management Diploma from UCT Business School.
5. Dr. Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane
Dr. Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane has 25 years experience in the broadcasting, film and telecommunications sectors in the US and in South Africa. Currently she is a member of the Presidential National Commission on Information Society and Development. In 2007 she won the South Africa Most Influential Business Women in Business and Government Award in the ICT category.
Mokone Matabane is the former CEO of Sentech and Co- Chair of Independent Broadcast Authority (IBA). Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts and an MS from the University of Syracuse, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Texas.
Mokone – Matabane was a South African delegate to International Telecommunications Union Plenipotentiary, USA. She has served in various media related positions including the Texas Education Committe to review & develop new curriculum for radio, TV and related fields.
6. Doreen Ramphaleng-Motlaleng
Doreen Ramphaleng-Motlaleng is the MD of Infomatix, a software technology company based in Gaborone, Botswana.
Doreen was conferred with the ‘Top ICT Businesswoman, 2009’ award, by the African ICT Achievers Awards Board. This great achievement is a lucid inspiration to other women intending to journey into the world of business.
The Top ICT Business Woman award is conferred by the African ICT Achievers Awards Board in honour of a woman in the ICT sector for her significant contribution to her organization and society at all levels. It recognises any deserving woman for achievement and excellence in the field of ICT in the private sector.
She is currently President of Citizen Owned Businesses in Information Technology (COBIT) in Botswana.
7. Betty Mwangi-Thuo
Betty Mwangi-Thuo joined Safaricom in December 2007 and is charged with managing the New Products Division comprising the globally acclaimed M-PESA business and Safaricom’s Value Added Service roadmap for product innovation and GSMA projects. In June 2010 she was featured by MCI (Mobile Communications International) as one of the top women in mobile.
Mwangi has over 10 years experience in the telecommunications industry. Prior to joining Safaricom she was Chief Marketing Officer at Afsat Communications Ltd, responsible for developing and managing the distributor network for the iWay business in 26 African countries. She also worked with GlaxoSmithKline for a number of years in various senior management positions.
Mwangi is a Kenyan citizen and has a B. Eng (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the Victoria University of Manchester and also has an MBA from the University of Leicester – both in the UK. She is also a Chartered Marketer and a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Kenya Institute of Management.
8. Isis Nyong’o
Isis Nyong’o is InMobi’s Vice President and Managing Director for Africa. Isis is currently managing InMobi’s African business strategy and facilitating the expansion of the company’s continental base.
Isis previously led Google’s business development initiatives in Africa, where she specialised in mobile partnerships and was responsible for the development of Google’s Africa content strategy. Nyong’o has led the development of mobile strategies in Africa for brands such as MTV and Google.
9. Funke Opeke
Funke Opeke leads Main One Cable Company in Nigeria. She is an experienced telecommunications executive who founded Main Street Technologies. Opeke returned to Nigeria in 2005 as the Chief Technical Officer of MTN Nigeria Communications (MTN) after a twenty-year career in the United States.
Prior to her return, she was the Executive Director of Verizon Communications Wholesale Division. Subsequent to MTN, Ms. Opeke advised Transcorp on the acquisition of NITEL and briefly served as the interim Chief Operating Officer, post acquisition of NITEL. She obtained a first degree in Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, New York.
10. Angela Gahagan
Angela Gahagan is the MTN Business managing executive and a twice-nominated candidate for the Business Woman of the Year award.
Gahagan started her career in 1977 in the financial consulting field, after obtaining her OND Business Studies and Institute of Bankers’ qualifications at the Poole College of Education in Britain, Angela remained in the financial industry sector until 1993 when she moved into the position of Special Project Manager at Amalgamated Appliances (Pty) Ltd.
In 1994, Angela became the financial manager at Knight Piésold (Pty) Ltd and moved onto a managing director position for MediTrac (Pty) Ltd in 1999. In 2002, Angela was appointed to the position of Operations/Client Services Director for Medscheme.
It was in 2004 that Angela began her career at Verizon Business SA (then UUNET SA (Pty) Ltd in the capacity of Customer Services Executive and soon after promoted to Country Manager for the Verizon Business’s operations in Southern Africa, which included South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and Zambia.
In March 2009 Verizon Business SA was acquired by MTN and Angela was appointed in the Executive role to head up the merged ISP businesses owned by MTN where she has already led a successful M&A transition and continues to drive a business that is showing strong growth.