Panel 23

Gendered Mobilities in Science Technology and Innovation in Africa

Panel organiser: Rufai Haruna Kilu, The Research and Consultancy Centre, University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana.

E-mail: haruna.rufai@upsamail.edu.gh

There are rising global concerns over dominant masculinity cultures in the fields of Science Technology and Innovation (STI). The case of Africa is worse, characterized with problematic developmental limitations. The unequal distribution of men and women in STI equally raise concerns relating to gender inequalities, inclusion, diversity, sustainability, competitiveness and further questions the social innovative prospects for the African continent. These differential representations of gender in STI combine and overlap in significant ways that are often neglected in public debates and policy initiatives. However, since 1990s, Africa has witnessed significant transformations in STI in many sectors; from agro processing to education, governance to gender, and technology to innovation with ICT shaping lifestyles, lifting millions from poverty, providing alternative and sustainable sources of income and stretching the reach of quality life to rural and remote areas. Interestingly many women have been at the forefront in creating, innovating, improving and transforming lives through deployment of appropriate technological tools. Take the following examples: Akaliza Keza Gara from Rwanda, now a member of the 4Afrika advisory council for Microsoft; also, the ‘She Leads Africa’ initiative is empowering young women to excel in business; further, the ‘Ushahidi’ invention, is a crisis-mapping tool, co-created out of two Kenyan women’s digital exploits, catering for vulnerable communities. Similarly a young Cameroonian woman entrepreneur co-founded the ‘Gifted Mom’ mobile health platform that uses low-cost technology to help mothers and pregnant women access medical advice in remote and rural communities. Then the case of three women miners in Ghana listed among the global 100 most inspirational women miners in 2016. There may be several of these women’s creative works unnoticed across the African continent. In view of this, this panel invites papers with narrative accounts that unveil and illuminate inventions and technological breakthroughs by women that are reshaping the African continent. The outcome of which is to document and augment frontiers of scientific knowledge in that field of study. Papers are expected to be cutting edge, empirically explicit and theoretically engaging on analysis of gender patterns and gains made by women in both private and public sectors relating to STI in the African context.

Approved abstracts panel 23

1. Gendered Innovations and Digitized Revolution in Africa

Author: Rufai Haruna Kilu, Faculty of Management Studies, Department of Business Administration/Research Centre, University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana.
E-mail: rufai.haruna@upsamail.edu.gh

Globally, successes have ben chalked over the years among men and women in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). The case of Africa is not different, where technology and digitized revolution is opening doors for home grown solutions to local problems. Adopting a qualitative approach and desk review of documentary series, the results showed an emerging generation of African women in STI. The result also shows how African scientists and innovators are fast trucking the faith of the continent, a true continental shift of a sort. Where in some parts of the continent, plastic waste generated is being used by the ‘waste queens’ and others to design computers. The results equally explore technological applications designed and used to detect counterfeit drugs at various pharmacy shops in Ghana. The results further showcased the mobile phone technology breakthroughs such as the solar powered mobile phone charging system, the ihub and mobile phone money transfer revolutions, transforming lives of people across the continent. The ‘crowd farming revolution’ and the ‘Icow’ technologies designed and providing body of useful information on food security and general transformations in Africa’s agriculture. Though Africa may have missed out in the then industrial revolution, these emerging cultures of applying uniquely African and home grown ways to solve local business problems, suggest men and women from the continent are no longer ready to miss out in the current technological and digitized revolution.  The paper hereby recommends a gendered democratization of the fields of Science, Technology and Innovation in the continent to open the participatory space for gender equality, diversity and inclusion.

Keywords: gendered innovations, digitized revolution, unequal participation, waste queens and food security

2. Market Women and Innovative Partnerships for Public Information: Exploration of the Market Information System at Madina Market, Accra, Ghana

Authors: Benedicta Quao, Faculty of Management Studies, Department of Business Administration/Research and Consultancy Centre, University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana & Rebecca Baah-Ofori, Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Studies, Department of Public Relations, University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana.
E-mail: benedicta.quao@upsamail.edu.gh and Rebecca.baah-ofori@upsmail.edu.gh

Public information is key to achieving desired socioeconomic development across the globe and the situation is no different in Africa. Governments all over Africa have tried to create an enabling environment for citizens to gain access to needed information for national development. In Ghana, following the liberalisation of the airwaves in the early 1990s, government paved way for more commercial media houses to reach out to large segments of the population without formal education. Consequently, media houses have sought to reach masses with the use of local Ghanaian languages and phone-in segments to encourage grass root participation in national discourses. Development communicators have for years advocated a need for developing countries to adopt more participatory, bottom-up means of communication to reach larger portions of the population who remain largely without formal education. One group of people who tend not to have access to pertinent information that could improve their wellbeing are market women in Ghana. At the Madina market, this hurdle is being overcome with basic technology. Through a partnership between the local district assembly and the market women, an innovative market information system has been created, with the intent of informing the market women within reach of the market, with up to date information on pertinent issues. Deploying a qualitative approach, this study explores the nature, uses and challenges encountered in the use of this information system, how it can be improved and exploited for public education and information purposes in an emerging economy like Ghana.

Keywords: development communication, gender, grassroot partnerships, public information, emerging economy

3. Innovative Technologies Shaping Lives of Men and Women in Nigeria

Author: Adesuwa Omorede, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Research Profile in Innovation and Product Realization, Division of Innovation Management, Mälardalen University, Sweden.
E-mail: Adesuwa.omorede@mdh.se                                                                                  

The global world over the years, witnessed significant transformations, where innovative technologies are shaping lifestyles, lifting millions from poverty, providing alternative and sustainable sources of income and stretching the reach of quality life to rural and remote areas. Africa is not an exception, and in this regard, Nigeria is witnessing a new page in its socioeconomic development, where the country is leveraging innovative technologies to unlock its technological potentials. Using desk and document reviews, coupled with online interviews with some young Nigerian innovators, the results showcase several Nigerian home-grown technology companies that have achieved global recognition. The companies include ccHub, Andela, PagaTech, BudgIT, Hotels.ng, Konga, Wakanow and MainOne among others as the country’s success stories, making immense opportunities for technological growth and job creation. The paper further sees the Facebook founder’s visit to Nigeria as validation for betting big on the countries innovative technology industry. The paper however found that the scientific narrative on Nigeria’s technology and innovative industry is under-appreciated across the world due to lack of information and support systems. This scientific contribution is a page turner to reposition Nigeria’s innovative technological ecosystem on the global map. The paper hereby recommends a public–private support to this young Nigeria’s innovative technological ecosystem to accelerate the socioeconomic development of the country.

Keywords: innovative technologies, life shaping, home-grown solutions, scientific narratives, public-private support.

4. Applying a Gender lens to technological adoptions for sustainable change in marketplace practices in Ghana

Author: Ibn Kailan Abdul-Hamid, Faculty of Management Studies, Department of Marketing, University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana.
E-mail: ikabdul-hamid@upsamail.edu.gh

Marketplace technological adoptions have gained greater attention internationally. After decades of neglect, there is a growing interest in Africa and among Ghanaian men and women in particular, to deploy appropriate marketplace technologies for sustainable change. The gender lens concept in this paper reflects the inclusion, concerns, situations and abilities of both men and women in the production, distribution and consumption processes of goods and services. Thus, applying a gender lens in marketplace practices for a sustainable change includes promoting and leveraging technology to support men and women’s participation in key marketing decisions and practices such as packaging, promotion, place, product design and processes. The paper therefore explores how technological adoptions, applying the gender lens may affect sustainable change in marketplace practices in Ghana. As such, a qualitative research was conducted. This allows the use of interviews on technological adoptions for sustainable change via gender lens in marketplace practices. Using a thematic analysis, the study found a phenomenon of gendered division of roles in Ghanaian marketplace practices, where in marketing communications; women are used for domestic product line promotions while men are used for machines and technological advertisements. This culture of male dominance in machines and technological advertisements in Ghana, questions the marketplace practitioners’ commitment to gender equality, inclusion and diversity. It is hereby recommended that, a gender lens be applied in marketing communications on machines and technological advertisements for sustainable change.

Keywords: gender lens, sustainable change, technology adoptions, marketplace, Ghana

To the top