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

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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

 

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Press Release

Social media main enabler for growth among women-owned businesses

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95% of women SMEs in the region identify social media channels as the top tool to drive their business ventures

Mastercard, the Official Payment Technology Partner of Expo 2020 Dubai, and Female Fusion Network unveiled new research at the first in a series of workshops for the region’s female entrepreneurs at the world’s largest cultural gathering.

Held at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Women’s Pavilion, in collaboration with Cartier, the session focused on the power of the digital economy in enabling women-owned businesses to go online. In a study conducted among Female Fusion’s network of 20,000+ members across the region, it was revealed that 95% of women SMEs in the region identify social media channels as the top tool for their business ventures. Other channels include their own e-commerce websites (72%) as well as messaging services such as Facebook and Whatsapp (50%).

In addition, three out of four (72%) women-owned businesses said they rely on word of mouth to market their products and services. The workshop identified how SMEs can make the most of their online footprint, and better connect to their consumers in a digital economy.

Speakers included Ngozi Megwa, Senior Vice President, Digital Partnerships MEA, Mastercard, Sarah Beydoun, Founder and Creative Director of social impact fashion business Sarah’s Bag in Lebanon, Ioanna Angelidaki, co-founder of Instashop, and Maureen Hall, Founder and CEO of COÉGA Sunwear.

“The findings from the study indicate a clear need for further education and empowerment. Mastercard has long pushed for the success and growth of women as we break gender barriers around the world. Digital tools and technologies are the greatest equalizer for businesses and as the shift towards e-commerce becomes increasingly permanent, we are committed to helping women businesses go digital and grow digital as they pursue their entrepreneurial passions,” said Ngozi Megwa, Senior Vice President, Digital Partnerships MEA, Mastercard.

The recent unveiling of the inaugural Mastercard MEA SME Confidence Index also revealed that in terms of a digital footprint of the region’s women entrepreneurs, social media (71%) leads the way followed by a company website (57%).

“We are proud of the successful launch of our workshop series in partnership with Mastercard. As a growing community of ambitious women leaders, Female Fusion Network looks to support our members with access to platforms that offer simple yet effective takeaways for them to grow their business. We look forward to having more of these impactful sessions during Expo 2020 Dubai,” said Jennifer Blandos, Managing Partner, Female Fusion Network.

Mastercard has made a global commitment to connect 25 million women entrepreneurs to the digital economy by 2025 as part of its goal to build a more sustainable and inclusive world. As part of its efforts, the technology leader recently launched  ‘The Entrepreneur’s Odyssey’ a first-of-its kind digital education platform that brings together a range of world-class academic and business resources to help small businesses learn and thrive.

 

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AOC dazzles visitors with a special game room at GITEX Technology 2021

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AOC Sales Director Middle East & Africa, Carol Ann Dias (Image: Hazem Abed)

AOC, the world’s leading manufacturer of computer monitors, highlights its presence at GITEX Technology Week 2021 through their authorized distributor, Hiperdist. At GITEX, AOC is showcasing a special game room where visitors can get try out the latest lineup of gaming monitors, some of which are made for professional e-gamers.

“Being one of the largest information technology exhibitions not just in the region but the whole world, AOC would not want to miss the opportunity to participate at GITEX 2021,” said Carol Ann Dias, Sales Director Middle East & Africa at AOC. “More than making our presence felt at the show, we are now focusing on emerging markets which is why we have partnered with Hiperdist due to their strong presence in the MEA region,” she added.

Some of AOC’s well-known monitors that include the Agon and the G2 line up are all on display at GITEX. Where visitors are encouraged to try out the new displays that offer some of the best technologies that make it fit for the gaming crowd.

Already a top choice by gaming professionals, the AGON AG352UCG6 features a 35-inch display with a 120HZ refresh rate. The curved design supports a WQHD (3440 x 1440) resolution that has 2.4x more pixels than a standard widescreen monitor. It also features a lighting panel at its rear which can be customized in colours of red, green or blue.

Also on display is the AOC C27G2 gaming monitor that comes in a 27-inch size with a 165Hz refresh rate. There’s also a 1ms response time for more accurate play. And Freesync support so high-intensity games are razor-sharp without ghosting.

Visitors can join and experience AOC monitors at the Hiperdist stand in Hall 3 E1 at GITEX Technology Week in the Dubai World Trade Centre.

 

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Philips Introduces Momentum 559M1RYV 4K HDR display with Ambiglow for Xbox

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Philips 55 lifestyle in situ Xbox (Image: Supplied)

MMD, the leading display specialist and brand license partner for Philips monitors, today announced the release of the world’s first designed for Xbox console gaming monitor. Philips Momentum 559M1RYV featuring 55-inch panel size boosting 3840×2160 resolution with 4K / 144Hz, 4ms GTG response time, and many other features that will be available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan.

4K HDR display with Ambiglow 559M1RYV/01 | Philips

Philips Momentum 559M1RYV: Design and Sound

This new “Philips Momentum 559M1RYV” bears the name Momentum 559M1RYV and bears the same exterior appearance as the previous version, including the adoption of a VA LCD panel with a W-LED backlight system with Ambiglow technology that adds a new dimension to your viewing experience. Innovative Ambiglow technology creates an aura of light on the surrounding wall from behind the screen panel. Its fast processor analyzes the content of the displayed image, and continuously adapts the color and brightness of the emitted light to match the displayed image. This technology also helps reduce eye strain to enjoy the scenes, it also supports DisplayHDR 1000 standard. The gaming monitor includes a specially designed speaker enclosure from the engineers at Bowers & Wilkins, the British loudspeaker company globally renowned for their innovative designs and sound engineering, that completes the experience.

Pankaj Budhiraja, Category Manager – Philips Monitor – Middle East & Africa, said: “The new Philips Momentum monitor offers unique user experience especially for gamers who demand exceptional graphic quality display and flicker-free pictures. This monitor is a wholesome entertainment package with build-in stereophonic speakers, sharp picture quality, vibrant colors and dynamic contrast and excellent resolution”.

Philips Momentum 559M1RYV: Performance

Philips Momentum 559M1RYV including Displayport 1.4, a USB-B port along with 4 USB 3.2 ports, two of them with fast charging. The Philips Momentum Monitor delivers designed for Xbox validates performance with ultra-clera 4K resolution at a minimum 120Hz refresh rate. 3840×2160 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a good response time of 4ms, as for the brightness rate in the mode up to 750cd / m2, while in the HDR mode it reaches 1200cd / m2. As for the color weight, we will notice that it offers DCI-P3 color gamut with 95% coverage, NTSC color gamut with 104% coverage, and sRGB with 125% coverage.

“As Philips always prioritizes user health, we introduce Ambiglow technology for eye-friendly productivity and a premium sound system. The monitor been extensively tested, and validated by engineers at Microsoft and MMD to ensure perfect compatibility, Philips Momentum meet’s the high expectations of the Xbox fans, creating an integrated gaming atmosphere to enjoy.” Budhiraja added.

Key features for Philips Momentum 559M1RYV:

  • Screen size: 55-inch
  • Resolution: 3840 x 2160 UHD 4K
  • Panel type: VA
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz (HDMI 2.1); 144Hz (DisplayPort 1.4)
  • Response time: 4ms
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • V-Sync method: Adaptive Sync
  • Contrast ratio: 4,000:1
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 (x3), DisplayPort 1.4 (x1), USB-C (x1), USB-B (x1), USB 3.2 (x4)
  • Ambiglow: 3-sided
  • Power supply: Internal, 100-240VAC, 50-60Hz

 The Philips Momentum 559M1RYV monitor is available through MMD authorised distributors in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan and comes with a standard 3-year warranty, and EUP in UAE AED 6999*.

 

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