Connect with us

Technology

4IR in Africa: Technology Innovation, Women and Young People at the Fore

Published

on

Kate Krukiel is Managing Director of Sera Afrika based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work with the United Nations at Microsoft, driving policy through data across Africa with Sera Afrika and facilitating the newly formed UN Digital Solutions Centre for shared innovation across the UN family, has spanned the Middle East and Africa, focusing on private and public sector partnerships, non-profits, the UN and civil society groups to break down political, social, and language barriers in creating lasting technological change in emerging markets. In this interview with Heath Muchena of Business Africa Online, Kate explores tech, women empowerment, business leadership and work-life balance, amongst others.

Heath: Africa has the largest concentration of young people in the world. How can private-public partnerships and policy help youth take a right-first approach to digital transformation and how should businesses in Africa define a digital transformation process?

Kate: With young people representing over 65% of the population in Africa, we should focus on them for opportunities for digital transformation and growth. It’s exciting to note that we can leapfrog ahead exponentially in business areas from finance, mobile access to Agtech, opening new markets, new jobs and new job types. Given current technology constraints in Africa, we need to focus on access to affordable connectivity to access such e-services and enable new and growing businesses to participate online. Africa still has the most expensive Internet access on the globe – and this must change.

Heath: Is Africa ready for the transformative change the 4IR brings and the impact on businesses across the continent? How can private-public partnerships and ICT leaders to foster this change?

Kate: Of course! Africa is ready for a giant leap into accelerating growth. It countries and tech counterparts have the resources to do this. But there are a few barriers to getting there, including more maturity in technology infrastructure and skill development in these new areas of innovation. While there has been progress in eliminating the digital divide (people with no access to smart devices and the Internet), there is much more to be done there.

Connectivity, trade and collaboration between countries, accurate policies to allow this growth are just a few areas that need advancement. The majority of consumers are youth who are under-skilled without relevant jobs available in the digital economy. For this we need to work with governments and organizations create new types of jobs, build capacity and modernize fragmented policies to enable this growth.

Heath: What do you think is the best part of being a woman leader in the tech industry and what advice would you give to women looking to break into the tech field?

Kate: Being the only woman in my computer science university class at Mary Washington College to moving into a world where I’m working with 95% men, it’s all I know. I am lucky in that I was raised with strong and supportive male figures who gave me a good foundation for this field. 

The best part of being a woman leader in tech is knowing that women have the inherent characteristics of collaboration and inclusion. Mapping these female strengths to technical capabilities and digital innovation and knowledge makes me unique.  The second-best part is, at this time, knowing that I am and must be a role model for other women moving into this career path.  We don’t have enough women in tech as thought leaders and movers and shakers! 

I mentor my staff, my teams and interns but also, I choose to create open dialogue and spaces for fellow women to get guidance – this is incredibly important.  My advice? – get mentors.  Surround yourself with strong women and men that possess skillsets and characteristics that you need.

Heath: How do you maintain work-life balance and what are your views on goals, timelines, and measuring success?

Kate: Work life balance means something different to everyone you ask. We have different times when we’re productive or not – we have different priorities in life and at work. To me, having flexibility in my days to do things like avoiding the traffic or going on walks to clear my brain are important. 

I’m a morning person and the first thing I do is make a list, for the week (on Sunday) and for each day. That keeps me on track with timelines, to set clear goals, long term and short, but also know my own balance. I’m a big fan of having events, launches or a moment in time to mark progress and this offers milestones for commitments and results. I’ll be at my desk at 6 a.m. and be on a walk at 9.

Heath: How important is it to be exposed to all areas of the business in order to be an effective leader within your Sera Afrika business?

Kate: Incredibly. From the very basics of using advice from Oprah Winfrey to always ‘sign your checks’ (transparency) down to understanding the different leadership styles my directors have and how they differ and augment mine, to sectors we work across and to the talent that we possess.  Every organization is a machine of moving parts and I don’t need to understand the deepest aspect of each, but general knowledge core areas of business is key.

Heath: What influences your leadership style and what values are important to you?

Kate: I need to be me – which means I need humour in each day, I need transparency and honesty, passion and hard work.  I’m a very flexible leader in that I don’t need my team to be in the office when I am but allow them to work in the best method and manor for each of them, as I do too.  This creates trust, as we work hard and value each other.

Most important? Value our commitment to growing and changing lives.  At the end of the day, if we aren’t having fun while trying to change the world, we are doing something wrong.  The Kate you see at the office will be the same Kate you see on the weekend.

Kate Krukiel

Heath: In your experience, what is the key to developing a good team and how do you manage performance?

Kate: One thing I learned years ago during my first management role is that you must know what motivates members of your team in order to build a good relationship. Knowing their passions and strengths, at work and out of work.

I don’t agree that work and personal life should be separate. I found out one of my interns is an artist (as well as a wonderful lawyer).  When we needed art for our office, I called her. Now our office is full of personal touches. For managing performance, setting clear objectives, understanding work styles and allowing employees to have ownership and flexibility, plus having regular check ins.

Heath: How far has Sera Afrika gone with its digital transformation?

Kate: As a policy tech start-up, we’re able to begin from a different place. In addition, having a leadership team that has been entrenched in technology for a collective 70 years, we fully understand the power but also the enabler that technology must be in changing the lives of Africans.

Visit: Sera Afrika

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Legal Business

9 Inspiring Women in the Nigerian LegalTech Space

Published

on

By

Kelechi Achinonu, Founder Techlawyered and Technology Lawyer

In celebration of International Women’s Day, 2020, Techlawyered would like to share with you the stories of extraordinary women in Nigeria who are innovating in their various roles, while leveraging technology to improve the legal practice and access to justice.

Rahila Olu-Silas Ambassador, World Legal Summit (West Africa)

Biggest Success in LegalTech

Collaborating with Open Law Library Washington DC, a U.S.A based Not-for-Profit Organization to automate the process of Bill drafting, codification, and publication of laws in digital formats in Nigeria

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

Researching the legal framework that will enable the adoption of Machine-Consumable legislation in Nigeria. This will enable emerging technologies to consume our laws through APIs and process them without the human factor.

What motivates you to keep going?

The possibility of change in the way legal services is delivered in Nigeria

Funkola Odeleye , Co-founder and CEO at DIYLaw.ng

Biggest Success in LegalTech

I am not sure we have hit our biggest success yet but being able to simplify legal services and topics and making them attainable and understandable comes close

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

The problem that we are trying to solve is making legal services accessible and our biggest challenge is how to make it accessible for those without access to technology. It is an irony of sorts.

What motivates you to keep going?

The sheer number of jobs that are being created because people are able to launch their businesses through our platform keeps me going. Also, getting kind words and referrals from people who have used our platform is an affirmation that we are doing something right.

Also Read : Women in Tech: Interview With Anna Collard, Founder Popcorn Training – A KnowBe4 Company

Adejoke Are , Co-founder/Project Lead, The Flemer Project

Biggest Success in LegalTech

I run an organization – the Flemer Project – that helps indigent pretrial detainees conclude their matters in court as quickly as possible, by leveraging on the support of young volunteer lawyers who directly provide legal representation to these detainees.

Although we are never physically present in court to monitor the performance of our volunteer lawyers, incorporating technology into our solution has made monitoring and evaluating their work quite a seamless affair. Through this approach, we have been able to provide legal representation to almost 200 indigent pretrial detainees and to secure the release of 60 of them from prison.

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

I don’t have any technical experience or skill in building technology platforms and this has been a drag on the development of a comprehensive technology platform needed to manage our overall operations.

What motivates you to keep going?

The passion of our young volunteer lawyers who go over and beyond to give their best to people who can never repay them, and the fact that our solution literally changes people’s lives by helping them regain their freedom.

Oluwatosin Amusan , Product Development Lead, Mylaw.ng

Biggest Success in LegalTech

Delivering legal services to customers via technology, from the comfort of their couch. The fact that my team and I were able to develop products and show value enough to earn the trust of customers who end up drawing on the products on mylaw.ng and coming back for more.

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

Constantly answering the question “Is legal technology a viable sector in Nigeria”. Looking at it from a global perspective with 3 unicorns in legal tech this question does not surface in the international scene. However, In Nigeria, we have quite a number of legal tech startups who have to prove themselves 10 times harder, show double the traction required to prove that this is a viable sector.

What motivates you to keep going?

The refusal to settle for mediocrity. I make it a ritual to look back at works I have done in various facets of my life every six months, and without a doubt, I see the growth not just intellectually but in physical form. It is easy to get complacent with doing just what is required, but there is always room to improve and do better. No one changed the world by doing what just was required of them.

Faith Obafemi , Head of Strategy, Future-Proof Intelligence

Biggest Success in LegalTech

Establishing as a recognized expert in the blockchain space in less than 2 years. This has been a never-ending journey that has stretched me intellectually, financially, emotionally and otherwise. But, I have been better for it. I have met some of the most amazing persons on this journey. People who help broaden your horizon.

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

Breaking/building a tech foundation. In the early days, things were just mostly Greek to me. But, the more I kept at it, the familiar it became and the easier it was to understand.

What motivates you to keep going?

Money! Hahaha, I know most people would’ve been expecting something knight worthy like passion to help others, desire to impact, etc. Well, why all that is great, it still requires money. I am yet to see a broke person help another or have an impact on others.  So, yes, money motivates me to keep going. Because, with money as a tool, I can achieve other things that I hold dear.

Rhoda Obi-Adigwe, Founder Wemora

Biggest Success in LegalTech

Our greatest success was when Hill gave us an award and a grant for our legal software which aids in the writing of will and creation of trust online. This was very inspiring to us knowing that our efforts were being recognized.

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

Our biggest challenge to legal technology is cultural and traditional bias. People are still skeptical to include their personal and private details online making it difficult to prepare legal documents for them. This fear also arises from the fact that the country has no stringent data policy laws.

What motivates you to keep going?

The legal tech space is evolving and we are beginning to see most traditional things done online like the CAC providing platforms for business registration, so our motivation is to keep pressing knowing fully well that these changes and policies will soon affect our own part of legal IT.

Yinka Bada , Lead Product Manager, LawPavilion Business Solutions

Biggest Success in LegalTech

One of the things I can consider as part of my biggest success in legal technology is two-fold:

i. My involvement in conceptualizing and facilitating the development and continuous improvement of software solutions that solve challenges around Practice Management, Legal Research and Legal Drafting for lawyers and judges, hence improving their efficiency by making it easier for them to do more in less time than usual. I’ve been working with a team of bright minds to continuously improve the leading Electronic Law Reports platform; the only one with Legal Analytics, and most cited in courts by top lawyers, and judges of both the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

ii. Leading and mentoring at different times,  young and aspiring Product Managers and Software Engineers  to passionately seek to identify the pain points in our justice delivery system, and  proffer innovative solutions

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

What I can consider as a challenge for me in legal technology is the huge amount of time, efforts and resources it has taken over the years to build and communicate the value of legal-tech solutions to the conservative legal industry; the sweet thing, however, is that this same industry is now embracing technology fully, and even asking for more

What motivates you to keep going?

The joy of facilitating an accelerated (albeit gradual) access to justice in Nigeria-  the possibility of having the practice of law and ultimately, the dispensation of justice continually become technologically improved for more efficiency and effectiveness.

Nankunda Katangaza , Co-founder, African Law & Tech Network (ALT Network)

Biggest Success in LegalTech

I guess my biggest success in legal technology was in following my hunch that there was a need and interest on the part of African legal professionals in technology and what it could do for the legal sector and creating the ALT Network to kick-start that conversation on the continent. The ALT Network has grown to over 150 individual and business members over the past two years and has a thriving community and activities across the continent which I could not have predicted when we set up the platform!

Engaging with the fast-growing African tech community has brought incredible insight into the legal and regulatory needs of tech disruptors across all sectors. I am delighted that the Network has quickly grown into a valued pan-African interlocutor in the discussion between lawyers, technologists, and regulators to build effective, responsive and progressive frameworks for tech growth in Africa.

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

My biggest challenge is also one that can be described as a ‘first world problem’ in that it is the challenge of opportunity and time – so many opportunities, not enough time! In the short couple of years, it has been around, ALT has attracted a significant following and interest from across the African legal and tech sectors.

Law cuts across each and every area of personal, public and commercial life and as such, ALT and its membership have a role to play across the continent from influencing public policy to creating tools for delivering access to the law to all. Finding the time to explore and follow all the possibilities and requests alongside a full-time job does keep me up at night!

What motivates you to keep going?

I have to say that the energy and enthusiasm of the ALT members is more motivation than anyone could ask for! Each day brings a new member. Each week brings a new idea and opportunity in a different country from an existing member so there’s never a quiet moment.

But more than anything, the prospect of bringing together people and entities from across the continent who are all driven by the same thing – to create and build prosperity for all Africans through innovative tech use and creating an enabling legal environment for success. It has also been amazing to meet so many Africans working in different sectors and industries and to collaborate with some of them.

Our recent partnership with Africa Digital Heritage, for example, to explore the legal issues arising in tech and the preservation of African cultural heritage was eye-opening and inspirational. I look forward to ALT continuing to be at the heart of similar collaborations and conversations over the years.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Elaine Wang, Cloud and Software Solutions Director for Rectron

Odunoluwa Longe, Country Director, Acceleration (West Africa) at HiiL

Biggest Success in LegalTech

My greatest success is seeing the entrepreneurs succeed. Success here does not just entail in competitions but in the ecosystem as well.

What has been your biggest challenge in Legal Technology?

My biggest challenge has been finding businesses that are solving justice problems and are focused on doing the same. A lot of people do not realize that justice is beyond just legal tech, It should be more focused on people gaining access to services that actually help them solve their problems.

What motivates you to keep going?

I am motivated by the need to help entrepreneurs and see them succeed.

Please join Techlawyered to celebrate these Wonder Women of Legal Tech.

Article By: Kelechi Achinonu

Continue Reading

Health

Afya Rekod, Kenyan healthtech startup launching AI consumer data driven platform to curb Corona pandemic

Published

on

By

Afya Rekod Founder and CEO, John Kamara (Source: Afya Rekod) 

Afya Rekod, a Kenyan health tech startup is sprinting to launch its artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain built consumer driven health data platform amidst the corona virus pandemic in support of global efforts to curb the disease by providing a portal for people across the world to store their health data in real-time, with a special focus on Covid-19.

The advanced system, which was built to help users store their own health data, access health information and connect to health service providers, was set to launch at the end of July 2020.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Anna Collard, Founder Popcorn Training – A KnowBe4 Company

The founder and CEO of Afya Rekod John Kamara stated: “Afya Rekod is a medical data storage platform that allows patients to store their health records, the medication they take as well as keep journals of their statuses and that of their kids and families. The platform is AI driven and uses various AI modules to help detect abnormalities, detect early out breaks and monitor mobility and evolution of diseases via timely data analytics.”

“Africa and most of the third world countries have limited doctors and access to healthcare services. Lack of patient data in real-time makes the problem even more damaging to both patients and health-service providers across the continent. Over 65% of Africans live in rural communities that are not connected and are off-grid in terms of access to healthcare services. This is the problem we are trying to solve,” explained Kamara.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has shown the world once again that centralised health management systems that rely solely on people walking into a health facility are not sufficient. The world also needs decentralised systems that enable people to update their own records anytime, anywhere in multi-formats.

One of the critical issues affecting the world during emergencies like this includes inefficiency that leads to untimely deaths due to lack of or limited data, scanty access to healthcare services, unverified information and delayed responses among other things.

“We are fast tracking to launch the platform four months ahead of its time to enable the world to capture real-time data that will heat-map areas where the Corona infections are growing and monitor the growth in real-time by collecting user-generated information from millions of users across multiple geographic locations to allow for sufficient data analysis in support of the global efforts to curb the disease,”

“Afya Rekod comes are a crucial time when the world is experiencing one of the biggest pandemics of its generations and we need to monitor the movement and evolution of the virus closely to determine the changing nature of symptoms among other things,” further stated Kamara.

The growing digitisation of healthcare at a time when the world is required to isolate provides an unprecedented opportunity for the world to come together and unite in efforts.

Afya Rekod is currently in discussions with various entities across governments and developing partners to explore how their efforts can be accelerated urgently for Covid-19.

The platform presents a unique ability to address critical emerging health needs as it has a differentiated product that is centred around the most important entity in a health equation – the individual or person – which presents a rapidly growing opportunity to launch an AI engine that solves and helps the world prevent the spread of global pandemics like Covid-19.

Visit: Afya Rekod

Continue Reading

Technology

Africa will lead the exportation of technology expertise to the rest of the world by 2025 – Tochukwu Egesi

Published

on

By

L-R Ofolue Gabriella, Sandra Nwachukwu, Chidinma Okafor, Sarah Omoike Igho, Tochukwu Egesi, Princess Anya Adaobi Aniuchi, Olalade Olanrewaju, Emike  Aigbodioh, Ndutimobong Sunday Enang, Funmilola Ariyo, Adebayo Pelumi and Fatima Aruna.

The Microsoft LEAPers training is a bi-weekly soft skills training by seasoned industry experts for Microsoft LEAP program beneficiaries selected from thousands of applicants in Nigeria. 

Alongside the program Manager, Princess Anya, Tochukwu Egesi, a Financial Services and digital economy consultant at Genesis Analytics, presented the topic “Problem Solving and Positioning for a Career in Tech.”

During his presentation, Tochukwu stated that the developed nations are running out of tech talents and Africa will lead the exportation of technology expertise to the rest of the world by 2025 as the demand for globally traded services increases. He also charged the all-women beneficiaries to take control of their career, by plotting a strategic career plan with action points as well as encouraged them to tackle social problems in Africa as a contribution to the society and a display of the skills gained from the Microsoft program.

The beneficiaries of the Microsoft LEAP  who are all doing their technology apprentice at Wragby a Microsoft Partner in Nigeria as part of the program include Sandra Nwachukwu, Chidinma Okafor, Sarah Omoike Igho, Adaobi Aniuchi, Olalade Olanrewaju, Emike  Aigbodioh, Ndutimobong Sunday Enang, Funmilola Ariyo, Adebayo  Pelumi and Fatima Aruna.

Also Read: Women in Tech: Interview With Ellen Fischat, Founder Story Room and Inspiring Fifty SA Ambassador

About Microsoft LEAP Program

The LEAP Engineering Acceleration Program is a Microsoft initiative that tries to increase diversity. Bringing more women into software engineering roles. By providing them with real-world experience through development and project management apprenticeships with hands-on projects.

About Tochukwu Egesi

Tochukwu is currently a consultant at Genesis Analytics in the Digital Economy and Financial Services Strategy practice. Tochukwu has worked on projects for banks, non-bank financial institutions, regulators and donors. Alongside Genesis, he is the co-founder of a healthcare startup, Rem Health. Tochukwu is an ACIB Charterholder and a registered member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria as well as the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Continue Reading

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,870 other subscribers

Ads

Most Viewed