Nigeria’s tech industry has come a long way. Entrepreneurs and innovators in Nigeria have emerged as a result of technological advancements and improved internet connectivity, as technology has been used to solve problems.
The tech market in Nigeria has grown rapidly in recent years. Although Nigeria struggles with corruption and terrorism, it has been home to some amazing startups like Jumia, CowryWise, Flutterwave, Paystack, PiggyVest and many more.
One report found that startups in Nigeria raised nearly $400 million in 2019, doubling their funding from the previous year. In the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report on the Nigerian GDP, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector recorded the highest growth rate of all sectors of the Nigerian economy for the last quarter of 2020 and throughout the entire year. During the last quarter of 2020, the ICT sector grew by 14.70 per cent. Additionally, it grew by 12.90 per cent over the year. Only this sector has experienced double-digit growth.
Researchers at the Center for Global Development and ONE Campaign surveyed 93 technology companies and found that less than 30 per cent were owned by women, primarily focused on e-commerce and enterprise software solutions. Only six of the 93 companies surveyed had a woman in a top management role. A third of firms surveyed lacked any women employees. Women are underrepresented in the Nigerian tech industry, and some argue that gender bias is partly responsible for this underrepresentation. Although Nigeria’s technology sector is growing rapidly, very few women participate as founders and owners of tech businesses or work in the field. So, bridging the gender gap in technology is an ongoing challenge for stakeholders.
Nigeria has a difficult financial market, especially for small businesses owned by women. Compared to male founders of start-ups, females have a lower likelihood of securing funding. While raising funding for her fintech startup, PiggyVest, Odunayo Eweniyi found that local investors preferred dealing with men. Eventually, she backed off attending investment meetings and instead left her male co-founders to secure funding.
As a result of their social connection, men have more opportunities to find business information, contacts, and opportunities than women. Women find themselves at a disadvantage from the start, lacking professional connections, role models, and mentors.
The way out
1. Fighting the Stereotype: there’s a cultural mindset that women aren’t supposed to be good at tech. This is evident in a way that young girls are not encouraged to participate in that field at a young age. There is the need to assume some typical gender roles from a young age. Family and educational institutions are primarily responsible for this. Is it possible that this may have contributed greatly to the current low-interest rates?
2. Demystifying tech: dabbling in technology is not an impossible goal. Demystifying means breaking a complex concept into simple pieces that are easier to understand. This is one of the reasons I’m grateful for Abisoye Akinfolarin. The NGO she founded in 2012, Pearls Africa, enables young women to begin careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Through her work, young girls are taught that being in tech is achievable
3. Let’s talk about it: we need to talk about it more often. The lack of knowledge can cause many young girls to view tech from a perspective of ‘unachievability’. To raise awareness and encourage participation among women, more seminars and events should be held.
The Nigerian technology industry has produced some notable female pioneers, even though there’s no reliable estimate for the number of female innovators and creators. They include Adora Nwodo, Omolara Adejuwon, Ibukun Akinnawo, Funke Okpeke, Florence Seriki, Maya Horgan Famodu, Tarebi Alebiosu, Omobola Johnson, Dr Olayinka David West, and Nkemdilim Begho, just to mention a few.
Banke Alawaye, Ada Nduka Oyom, Jejumade Afonja, Hamdalah Adetunji, Layo Ogunbanwo, Monini Ufelu, Oluchi Enebeli are among the new generation of women contributing within the technology space. There’s contributing to the growth of many tech startups that are providing solutions to customers’ everyday problems through the development of innovative platforms.
Nigeria’s women must be seen as part of the technology industry, and their diversity can only contribute to the sustainability of the tech ecosystem, and Nigeria’s overall economic growth.