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20 Modern African Women Leaders Who Are Opening New Trails For Women

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African women leaders are working in all spheres of life. Leadership in Africa has been male-dominated for centuries. However, that does not mean there have not been transformative female leaders in the picture too. Africa is a growing continent. It is experiencing social, cultural, political and economic growth, in which iconic African women have made and continue to make a significant contribution. These women have changed the narrative of African women taking the backseat by empowering fellow women, men, and children.

Many African women today are taking active roles in the different areas of life, politics the economy, name it. All that is owed to transformational African women leaders who challenged the status quo and opened the way for others to follow.

African Women Leaders

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Liberia

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is one of the great African women leaders have been democratically elected as Liberia’s 24th president. That is not all. Ellen entered history books as being the first female president of the African continent.

Her struggle for peace and democracy for her country led to her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 2011. Ellen has since made many accomplishments while in government by boosting her country’s economy, security and international relations.

Ellen has been passionate about leadership and was very aggressive in fighting corruption and nepotism in the government when she was appointed the minister of finance.

One of her major accomplishments was erasing nearly $5 billion in crippling foreign debt after just three years of being in office, paving the way for foreign investment and boosting the annual government budget from $80 million to $516 million.

 

Joice Mujuru has done an impressive job for her country. The great African woman leader deputized Robert Mugabe by being the vice president of Zimbabwe between years 2004-2014. During her time in government, she was able to serve in different ministries including Women’s affairs where she played an active role in ensuring that the women in her country were empowered.

Joice is one of the women leaders that were able to get into the male-dominated scene at a young age of 25. One of her major accomplishments was protecting her country while in the army which saw her rise to the ranks of a member of general staff in the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army.

Aja Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang – Gambia

Aja Fatoumata has served as the Vice president of Gambia. This strong African woman has played an active role in the fight for human rights, more so, women’s rights. She was also in the forefront of fighting Yahya Jammeh’s dictatorial regime which saw the country’s citizens gain back their freedom of expression and association.

Sophia Abdi Noor – Kenya

African Women Leaders

Coming from a marginalized community in Kenya where women had no much power, Sophia Abdi Noor impressed many. Against all the odds, she managed to beat her male counterpart making her the first female elected Member of Parliament from the region. Since then she has tirelessly been fighting for the rights of women in marginalized communities: this has seen her win international awards related to women empowerment.

Diane Shima Rwigara – Rwanda

Diane Rigwara is one of the African women leaders who is very vocal when it comes to women’s rights. Rigwara has tirelessly fought against bad governance, oppression and many other forms of injustices despite the constant intimidation by the government. Her dreams of running for president has encountered all sorts of resistance including being accused of indecency.

Mbali Ntuli – South Africa

Mbali Ntuli is one of Africa’s youngest femaleleaders having ventured into politics at a very young age back at her University. Her political efforts saw her being elected as a ward Councillor. Like many other African women leaders, she faced a lot of violence and intimidation, but that did not stop her from making the political scene friendly for women.

Alengot Oromait – Uganda

Alengot Oromait is one of the youngest African women leaders more so, in the political scene that is very passionate about health policy, the environment, and gender issues. She has been recognized by Forbes as Top 20 Power Women in Africa.  She became legislator at age 19, making her the youngest in African history. Alengot rose out of the obscurity after her father, Michael Oromait, died of hypertension on the morning of Saturday July 21, 2016.  She succeeded him as MP for Usuk County. She beat eight other candidates vying for the seat, earning more than double the votes of the nearest runner-up.

Saara Kuugongelwa-Ahmadhila – Namibia

Saara Kuugongelwa-Ahmadhila is the current Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia. She also doubles up as the only female head of government of Africa. You should not get confused because her counterpart in Ethiopia (below) is the only head of State in Africa. She entered into politics when she received an appointment as the Director General of the National Planning Commission at the age of 27 in 1995. The Right Honorable also served as a minister for finance in 2003.

Sahle-Work Zewde – Ethiopia

Sahle-Work Zewde recently entered the rank of transformational African women leaders by being the only female head of state in Africa currently. This iconic African woman looks to change the view of the political scene. She shows the world that any gender can occupy any leadership position. She also looks to empower women to set foot in the political scene. Zewde was also the first woman to receive an appointment to head the United Nations Office to the African Union.

Joyce Hilda Banda – Malawi

Joyce Banda was the president of Malawi from 2012 to 2014. She founded and led the People’s Party in 2011. Prior to becoming the fourth president of Malawi she was the immediate former vice-president of the country. For these reasons, Banda broke two important records in Malawi and Africa of serving as the first female vice-president and president. Her leadership and contributions to the development of her country and Africa is immense. this is because she also served ministerial positions, as a philanthropic and activist.

Louise Mushikiwabo – Rwanda

Louise is an African woman leader that is doing great things. One of her achievements is her role as secretary general of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF). She has successfully done the job of bringing together 58 countries and regional governments hence ensuring that there is a peaceful coexistence among the people. Previously, she was the Foreign Affairs and Cooperation minister. Before that, she was the minister of information. Additionally, she also served as the Rwandan Government Spokesperson.

Ngozi Okonji-Iweala – Nigeria

Ngozi Okonjo is one of the African women leaders that is making a difference in the modern world. This transformational leader is looking to make the digital environment, especially twitter safer and healthier for the over 300 million users being in the board directors. Among her other accomplishments is holding several positions at the World Bank. Previously, she served as finance minister for two terms in Nigeria.

Fatma Samoura – Senegal

Fatma proves to the world that every job can be done by any gender. She is the highest-ranking women in the  Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) governing body. She is the first woman to attain the rank in FIFA as secretary-general, and is doing a great job which has, in turn, motivated even the younger women to achieve goals that previously proved impossible. She features in this list due to her immense recognition worldwide. Forbes named her as number one in the Most Powerful Women in International Sports in 2018. Additionally, the BBC recognized her as one of their 100 women.

Amina Mohammed – Nigeria

Economic and Social Council: Operational Activities for Development Segment ~ Opening Session ~ DSG

Amina has served in the top ranks in the United Nations. Her job is to ensure that the African child, both boy and girl have everything they need to make their dreams come true. Before taking up the UN job, Amina served as Minister of Environment of Nigeria. She also previously worked closely with the president of Nigeria to realize the Millennium Development Goals. Her contributions to African leadership and development is immense and spans many years.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma is a South Africa politician and apartheid activist. She has served as government minister in many dockets including the current Minister in the Presidency for the National Planning Commission for Policy and Evaluation. Popularly known as NDZ, Nkosazana served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under president Mandela, Mbeki and Motlanthe. When her former husband of 16 years Zuma took over as president, he moved her to Home Affairs. She has served in the AU and harbored dreams of un-sitting Zuma as the President of the National Congress. this dream was put on hold by Cyril Ramaphosa.

Martha Karua – Kenya

Martha Karua

Martha Karua

Martha Karua is known as the “Iron Lady” of Kenya due to her no-nonsense approach to leadership, politics and activism. She is one of the pioneer female legislators in the East Africa leading economy. As a lawyer by profession, Karua has made immense contributions to family law in Kenya. She came to political limelight in 1992 when she was first elected as member of parliament for Gichugu constituency. During her time in politics, she served as a minister in the ministries of Justice and Constitutional Affairs as well as Water Resources Management. Her last attempts at presidency and later gubernatorial positions were unsuccessful. However, she remains a force to reckon with in Kenyan politics.

Winnie Byanyima – Uganda

Winnie Byanyima

Winnie Byanyima is one of the African women leaders that are relentlessly fighting for human and women’s rights. Her fight against poverty is inspirational too. As a result of her competencies, she has been serving as the executive director of Oxfam International which is a global humanitarian relief organization. Previously, the served as a member of parliament in Uganda for 11 years. Additionally, she has the capacity to professionally shift gears from diplomacy, aeronautical engineering and politics.

Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka- South Africa

Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka looks to use her post as the Executive Director of UN Women. One of the major achievements is serving as South Africa’s deputy president. She leads in efforts of fighting for gender parity in politics, equality and equal pay for women.

Samia Suluhu Hassan-Tamzania

African Women Leaders

Samia Suluhu Hassan is the very first and only vice-president in Tanzania. She is the second vice president in East Africa after Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe who served between 1994 and 2003 in Uganda. She was the running mate of John Pombe Magufuli who clinched the presidency in 2015. Previously, she served as the member of parliament representing Makunduchi Constituency. In addition to this, Samia also served as a minister in various dockets in Zanzibar and Tanzania.

Hanna Tetteh – Ghana

Hanna Tetteh has served in many government positions in Ghana. The peak of her achievements was her appointment in 2013 as Minister of Foreign Affairs by President Dramani Mahama. Additionally, she has a background in law and therefore well versed in her duties. She is also perfect in showing the world the leadership material she possesses. For these reasons, she is a darling to the public in Ghana.

Africa is proud of the female leaders above; they have made an enormous difference and played a significant role in challenging stereotypes around women.

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Business and Development

Microsoft Wants To Promote Digital Transformation in Africa And Here Is How

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South Africa is the home for Microsoft’s first data centers in Africa. The two data centers are located in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The new data centers are serving Azure, with Dynamics 365 and Office 365 scheduled to be added by end of 2019.

The company had, in 2017, announced that it plans to have data centers in South Africa. Overall, the multinational technology company has 54 cloud regions announced around the world.

Data Centers and Digital Transformation

The location of the new data centers in Africa

Map showing the location of the new data centers in South Africa

The new data centers in South Africa make Microsoft the first global provider to offer cloud services from data centers in Africa. The company aims to help in promoting digital transformation in Africa.

The location of the data centers in Africa means regional users are guaranteed of resilient cloud services, enhanced security, compliance needs, and data residency. Furthermore, the new data centers will help promote global investment, improve access to the Internet and cloud services in Africa, and increase business opportunities in the region.

Projections from IDC–International Data Corporation–indicate that adoption of the cloud services will generate around 112,000 jobs in South Africa—by end of 2022. The data centers will facilitate improved environment for building digital businesses. Nedbank for instance, plans to utilize Microsoft Azure to increase its agility, customer focus, and competitiveness.

Furthermore, Azure provides companies with data privacy and security. This makes it a suitable service for banks like Nedbank. The Peace Parks Foundation and eThekwini Water have also signed up with Microsoft for computing services.

Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service. It can be used for building, testing, managing, and deploying services and applications through Microsoft data centers. The service supports different tools, frameworks, and programming languages.

Users of Azure can enjoy instant computing resources on demand. In addition, businesses or individuals using the service do not have to build on-site data centers or have server cooling environments. Also Azure users do not endure maintenance costs, electricity costs, and use of floor space. As such, Azure brings down the costs of computing.

Microsoft’s Investment in Africa

Microsoft has a 30-year history of operations in Africa. With over 10,000 local partners on the continent, the new data centers in South Africa add to the company’s long list of investments in Africa. The expansive investments in Africa took a new direction with Microsoft’s launch of 4Africa Initiative in 2013.

The initiative seeks to facilitate the company’s engagement with startups, partners, and governments. The aim of these engagements is to help the youth develop locally relevant technology, 21st-century skills, and affordable access to the Internet.

Other global tech giants with plans to open data centers in Africa include Huawei and Amazon. Facebook announced it will set up a content review center in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Politics

Tshisekedi and Kabila Agree to Form Coalition Government in DRC

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Kabila handing over power to Tshisekedi, few months before an agreement to form a coalition government

Joseph Kabila and Felix Tshisekedi during the inauguration ceremony

President Felix Thisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and his predecessor Joseph Kabila have agreed to form a coalition government. Tshisekedi, who won the recent presidential elections, was not able to gain enough support in Parliament.

Kabila’s party holds the majority seats in parliament. Through this agreement, Joseph Kabila finds himself in government again. Kabila did not vie for the top seat in the December 30 2018 elections.

ALSO READ: Ethiopia PM Resigns In Bid To Sustainable Peace and Democracy

Factors Leading to the Coalition

President Tshisekedi could not push through his choice for Prime Minister in parliament. The stalemate effectively held back Tshisekedi’s ambitions to reform the country. Whereas President Tshisekedi’s CACH–Heading for Change Coalition–has only around 50 seats, Kabila’s FCC party—Common Front for Congo– has 337 seats, out of the 485 seats.

A sitting president in DRC is required to select a prime minister from the parliamentary majority. Essentially, a prime minister is chosen from a political group, coalition, or party that holds the majority in the National Assembly. The FCC coalition blocked Tshisekedi’s proposals in parliament.

The dominance of FCC put Tshisekdi at a difficult position in pushing his agenda, and a coalition government was seen as an ideal solution.

President Tshiskedi and Kabila’s parties pushed the two leaders to form a coalition government—after several weeks of failed talks. Both Kabila’s FCC and Tshisekedi’s CACH are coalition parties in themselves.

Coalition Government Talks

After Tshisekedi vented his frustrations on his inability to push through his choice for Prime Minister, it was time for coalition government talks with Kabila. On Sunday 17 February 2019, Kabila and Tshisekedi held talks on the possibility of forming a unity government. Although Kabila is no longer president, he is still the head of FCC.

On Wednesday, March 6 2019, both parties issued a joint statement confirming an agreement to form a coalition government. According to the issued statement, the decision to form a joint government was a move that reflected the will of the people.

What this Means

A coalition government will now make it easy for President Tshisekedi to have his proposals approved in parliament. As such, the President can comfortably appoint a new Prime Minister and cabinet. President Tshisekedi can now govern the country.

The Democratic Republic of Congo now joins Kenya and Zimbabwe as some of the African countries that have formed coalition governments during a specific period. In Kenya, former president Mwai Kibaki formed a coalition government with Raila Odinga—from April 2008 to April 2013. Former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe formed a coalition government with Morgan Tsvangirai—2009 to 2013.

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African Ingenuity

One of The Oldest Tribes In Africa Was Kicked Out Of Their Homes And Here Is What Happened

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Displaced Batwa Tribe

The Batwa tribe is one of the oldest in Africa. They originally resided in the rainforests of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. They survived many decades through hunting and gathering. However, in the 1990s, the government evicted them from the rainforest leaving them homeless. This and subsequent events threw them into poverty.

The actions of the governments of the three countries were prompted by the need to create a national park. The national parks helped to preserve the population of endangered gorillas in the Virunga Mountains. Since then, the population of the gorillas has grown to 880 in 2018 from 284 in 1981. Tourists now pay a huge amount to spend one hour with the apes. The parks have become a huge money spinner for the East African countries. However, the Batwa tribe paid the price.

A glimmer of hope for eighteen Batwa families

Volcanoes Safaris, a luxury lodge operator was drawn to the plight of the Batwa tribe condemned to squat in Uganda’ farmland. The founder of Volcanoes Safari, Praveen Moman was touched by their appalling livelihood. Moman first met the Batwa tribe when he opened the Mount Gahinga Lodge in 1997 on the outskirts of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The encounter sparked their relationship.

Through the Volcanoes Safari Partnership Trust, Moman gifted ten acres of land to the tribe.  When asked about what motivated his actions, Moman said,

“Generally, we want to support people and improve their livelihood in relation to the work we do at our lodges. It was a bunch of rocks on which they built little shacks of twigs, of tarpaulins, of cardboard—whatever they could get.”

All the material used for the construction of the new village were donations from the guests at Mount Gahinga lodge and the Volcanoes Safari Trust. However, Uganda-based Studio FH architects’ contribution was in terms of supervision services and free designs.

A glimpse into the new settlement for the Batwa tribe

The village consists of eighteen houses each measuring twenty square meters. Each of the homes boasts of a bedroom, common room and a covered veranda which also serves as the kitchen. Eucalyptus poles with bamboo crisscross form a grid and make up the walls. However, the roofing consists of metal sheets with papyrus coating.

Batwa Village Home

The builders took some steps to ensure the safety of these eco-friendly homes. First, the buildings have compact spacing for wind protection as well as to conserve farming lands. Secondly, the verandas face opposite of the direction of strong winds from the volcanoes. To ensure proper sanitation, two buildings containing latrines lie in the slopes on one side of the village.

The Batwa tribe village also has a community center on a 100 square meter space. Consequently, the dome-shaped community center is intended to be used for multiple purposes that involves public gathering. The official opening of the village was in May 2018.

Batwa tribe village community center

The 2018 Emerging Architecture Awards

The contributions of Studio FH Architects to the Batwa tribe also earned them a place on the 2018 Emerging Architecture Awards list. The prestigious award instituted in 1999 honors young designers who create a positive impact in their environment through architectural designs.

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