In the past five years, West Africa’s tech scene has witnessed a boom, with a dramatic increase in innovators and tech entrepreneurs – aka ‘tech-preneurs’ – using technology to provide simple and accessible solutions to everyday problems. From payment services to apps helping people grow their savings and making it easier for Africans to partake in the global scramble for cryptocurrency, West Africa’s tech scene is livelier than ever. Across the continent, tech hubs have sprouted in places such as Egypt, Kenya and South Africa, with Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country – leading the pack.
Tech-preneurs in West Africa have been focusing on ensuring that the area’s increase in mobile-phone users also translates to a larger number of West Africans having access to easy and inclusive digital-banking solutions. While tech companies are tackling many issues – from making data on Africa accessible and providing health services to revolutionising African fashion – financial technology companies are among the biggest in Nigeria. As this industry reaches new heights, the inclusion and participation of women is not quite where it should be. Only 10 per cent of the West African startups that have cumulatively raised $1m in the past decade had at least one female co-founder. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women constitute only 30 per cent of professionals in the tech industry. Despite many tech-preneurs stating their mission is to ‘provide inclusive or accessible solutions to everyday problems’, it isn’t possible to truly do that when most apps and services are created by men, and the participation of women in their creation is so scant.
Here, we meet six women in Nigeria who are rising to new heights in the global-tech industry and redefining it from the inside out.