Findings from the eLearning Africa Report 2015 reveal that, despite rapid growth in internet and mobile usage across the region, women are much less likely to get online than men. And they are still largely unrepresented in the technology sector.
“These two facts could have serious implications for the ability of African economies to use technology to catapult themselves ahead of their competitors,” said Harold Elletson, Co-Editor of the eLearning Africa Report, an annual review of the impact of technology on education and development. “Africa needs to address these issues now or it will miss out.”
Elletson added: “In sectors, such as agriculture, women form the bulk of the workforce. “It’s already clear that ICTs are having a huge and very beneficial impact on farming- driving up yields and productivity and boosting farm incomes. In order to make the most of its agriculture, Africa has got to bring women into the digital age.”
Surveying women from throughout the continent, the report paints a picture of the realities of this situation – 55% of women say they believe there are equal opportunities for men and women to gain digital skills, but a lack of individual confidence and access holds many women back.
Affordability was also amongst the main barriers hindering women’s ICT usage. Nnenna Nwakanma, the World Wide Web Foundation’s Africa Regional Coordinator, and contributor to the report, says women’s chances of benefiting from the advantages of ICTs are one third less than men’s. She attributes this divide to the high cost to connect. “Exorbitant internet costs drastically affect the potential for women to benefit from the increased access to information and empowerment that the Internet offers.”