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    Diversity will be the mother of innovation in Africa says Vodafone Ghana CEO


    You can’t see the future with one eye closed says rising star

    The CEO of Vodafone Ghana, Patricia Obo-Nai, has advised players in the technology industry to be deliberate in creating a work culture that attracts and empowers gender diversity. Obo-Nai said gender diversity in the technology industry is a necessary condition for creating the fertile hot bed of ideas and inventions needed to stimulate the African economies. Mobile network operators will be instrumental in creating these changes as they host the exchange of ideas. 

    Fireside chats

     Mrs Obo-Nai gave a series of informal briefings to Ericsson’s Middle East and Africa teams on diversity and inclusion. In these self-styled ‘fireside chats’, Obo-Nai outlined the benefits to the industry of women’s empowerment and her career journey as a female engineer. “The tech industry is shaping technology for the future, so how can you allow just one demographic to define that technology?” said Obo-Nai, “Gender diversity is fundamental to how you thrive in innovation and how you succeed.
    Obo-Nai acknowledged that these dramatic changes are a lot harder to make than they are to talk about. They involve a change of mindset and social attitudes, which involve hidden objections and ingrained fears that people don’t talk about. “The industry must be very deliberate about how we include this culture at all these levels so that we can get it right,” said Obo-Nai.

    Changes comdfrom the top

    One problem is that the various technology sectors are not famous for being great listeners. Tech evangelists tend to dictate to people and expect them to work around the system, whereas the system should shape itself around the way people naturally work. If there was greater diversity in telecoms, there might be more of an accommodating culture. Which in turn would inspire closer engagement with customers. “Otherwise, we provide solutions for people and we think that is what they need, while we do not even understand them,” said Obo-Nai.

    Necessity is mother of invention

    Vodafone Ghana’s CEO said the gender diversity agenda should be driven from the top. “The industry must own it from the senior level otherwise we are not going to win. Diversity within the tech space is no longer a choice, it has become a necessity that we must drive,” said Obi-Nai. 
    Vodafone’s contribution to gender diversity and women’s empowerment has involved it in rigorous projects aimed at giving young females hands-on skills in the field of technology. Not just in Ghana but across the whole continent. “At Vodafone, we spend a lot of time and money doing advocacy, and we are very deliberate about this.,” said Obo-Nai, “I have been investing my time and expertise into programmes that will increase gender participation in science, technology, engineering and maths across Africa.”