Many people’s view of Africa is outdated, and, quite frankly, inaccurate. The Western world continues to be shown images of poor, uneducated women in villages with no access to the modern world.
Where are the progressive images of young women using social media to share their stories, or women heading technology companies in places like Nigeria and Kenya? These questions were asked at Monday’s panel “Africa, Tech & Women: The New Faces of Development” at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival. Led by Project Diaspora co-founder TMS Ruge, the hour-long discussion shed a different light on the role of women on the continent. The panel featured such notable figures as Vice President of InMobi Africa Isis Nyong’o and Ebele Okobi of Yahoo!.
There has long been emerging markets in Africa; however, there are still many misconceptions about technology on the continent. Over 30% of Africans are defined as middle class, and mobile phone penetration has risen to 60%, according to statistics shared during the presentation. Over 1 million affordable Android phones such as IDEOS have been sold, opening up multiple possibilities with the mobile web and apps. Applications such as Cnectd and StoryDroid are being developed in Africa to allow users to share their stories. Women are adapting to these platforms in record numbers. There is a noticeable change in consumer behavior, as users are becoming producers of information, rather than just consumers.