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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GLOBALX'S SYLVIA MUKASA

Learn about the skills gap in east Africa and what can be done to help women in the region succeed in the tech industry.

Your work with GlobalX focuses on skills and opportunities for aspiring developers and entrepreneurs. What skills do you believe are in highest demand in east Africa?

Sylvia Mukasa (SM): As new technologies emerge, there are a large number of hard skills that are in high demand. These include blockchain, cloud computing, analytical reasoning from data to make sense of it or uncover insights and artificial intelligence, (AI) including machine learning and natural language processing. Other skills needed include user experience (UX) design to enable building more human-centric products and experiences, web development, quantum computing, Internet of Things, Robotic Process Automation, programming languages and mobile development.

However, we have to look at a mix of both soft and hard skills. There is also high demand for soft skills such as:

  • Creativity: approaching problems and tasks creatively across all business roles.


  • Persuasion: value for individuals who can explain the "why."


  • Collaboration/teamwork: high-functioning teams can accomplish more than an individual.


  • Adaptability: having a positive attitude and open-mindedness in the ever-changing technology world.


  • Emotional intelligence: the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others.

Supporting women in tech is also an issue close to your heart. What can be done to drive greater inclusion of women in the African tech space?

I'm absolutely passionate about women in tech. Gender-responsive policy is most critical, involving integration of gender in ICT-related strategies, policies, plans and budgets, with clear gender-equality targets. Governments need to invest more in generating gender-disaggregated data to track progress. Of the 14 indicators of progress associated with the United Nations gender equity goal – Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5) – most countries only measure three.

The tech sector must also do more towards equality and diversity to overcome biases and barriers, stereotypes, create relevant products, content and services that take into account the specific needs of girls and women.

We need to put into action real solutions, action plans and roadmaps such as the recommendations of the UN's Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, UNHRC's gender digital divide recommendations and the proposals of the UN-IT partnership "Equals" to bridge the gender digital divide amongst others. They should not gather dust.

Sylvia Mukasa will be speaking at East Africa Com 2020, taking place from September 14 - 15 in Nairobi, Kenya. You can see the full speaker lineup for the event here.