• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Meet African female engineers that fostered development through their innovations

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In celebration of this year’s International Women in Engineering Day, we honour the extraordinary contributions of African female engineers who embody the theme “Enhanced by Engineering”. These women have leveraged their expertise to create transformative solutions, significantly improving lives and fostering sustainable development across the continent. Through their dedication and innovation, they have not only advanced the field of engineering but have also made a lasting impact on their communities, paving the way for a brighter and more equitable future.

Hilary Kahn – Software engineering

Hilary Kahn was a pioneering computer scientist and academic who made significant contributions to computer-aided design, information modelling, and standards development. She established the CAD group at the University of Manchester, chaired the EDIF project, and worked on the Manchester MU5 computer. Additionally, she organised the Computer 50 celebration, marking the 50th anniversary of the Manchester Baby, the first stored-program computer. Despite not having a PhD, she was a respected faculty member and researcher, inspiring future generations of computer scientists.

Zeinab Elobeid Yousif – Aircraft Engineering

Zeinab Elobeid Yousif was a Sudanese aircraft engineer who achieved numerous milestones in a male-dominated field. She became the first Sudanese woman to be licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority and worked for esteemed organisations such as Sudan Airways and London Southend Airport. Throughout her career, she successfully maintained and repaired various aircraft, including the Boeing 707, 737, Fokker 50, and Cessna 402. Zeinab further demonstrated her expertise by earning a Master of Science degree in Advanced Manufacturing Systems from Kingston University, London. Despite facing cultural and societal obstacles, she remained dedicated to her craft, leaving a lasting legacy of excellence and achievement that continues to inspire future generations of women in engineering.

Funke Opeke – Electrical engineering

Funke Opeke is a Nigerian electrical engineer and entrepreneur who has made an impact in the technology industry. She founded Main One Cable Company in 2008, which has become West Africa’s leading communication services and network solutions provider. Under her leadership, the company has achieved several milestones, including the deployment of West Africa’s first privately owned, open-access 7,000-kilometre undersea high-capacity cable submarine. Funke’s achievements have earned her numerous awards and recognition, including the 2012 CNBC All Africa Businesswoman of the Year award and a spot on Forbes’ 2018 list of The World’s Top 50 Women in Tech.

Thérèse Kirongozi – Industrial engineering

Congolese Thérèse Izay Kirongozi is an industrial engineer and entrepreneur who has revolutionised traffic safety and management with her innovative humanoid traffic robots. Born in Kinshasa, she was inspired to pursue engineering after a personal tragedy. Thérèse designed and developed solar-powered robots that detect pedestrians, educate them about road safety, and transmit data to a control centre for real-time monitoring. Her robots have been installed in several cities, improving traffic safety, creating jobs, and inspiring women to pursue STEM careers. Thérèse’s vision is to export her robots globally, including to major cities like New York.

Mary Spio – Deep space engineering

Deep space engineer, tech innovator, and entrepreneur, Mary Spio, has revolutionised virtual reality and satellite communications. Born in Ghana, she excelled in electrical engineering and computer science, serving in the US Air Force and working at top firms like Boeing. In 2015, Mary founded CEEK Virtual Reality, a platform that enables live events and content creators to reach global audiences through various devices. Under her leadership, CEEK VR has expanded into a seamless app and website experience, transforming the way we interact with technology.

Nasra Agil – Civil Engineering

Nasra Agil is a Somali-Canadian civil engineer and community leader who has made a significant impact in both Canada and Somalia. She was one of the first Somali women to earn an engineering degree in Canada, graduating from Ryerson University with honours in 2005. Nasra excelled in her career, working as a road inspector for the City of Toronto and later as a senior traffic engineer for the Dubai Municipality’s Roads Authority. In 2012, she returned to Somalia to contribute to the post-conflict reconstruction process, opening the country’s first dollar store and receiving recognition for her societal work, including the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award from the Governor General of Canada.

Nzambi Matee – Mechanical engineering

Nzambi Matee is a Kenyan mechanical engineer, environmentalist, and entrepreneur who has transformed the field of sustainability and waste management. She developed a groundbreaking technology that converts plastic waste into sustainable building materials, including bricks stronger than concrete. In 2018, Nzambi founded Gjenge Makers, a leading recycling startup that has successfully recycled over 20 tons of plastic waste. Her innovative approach has earned her international recognition, including the prestigious Young Champion of the Earth 2020 Africa award from the United Nations Environment Programme.

Naadiya Moosajee – Civil engineering

With degrees in civil engineering and business administration, Naadiya Moosajee, a South African engineer, social entrepreneur, and leader in her field has excelled in various roles, including project engineering, transport coordination, and consulting. Naadiya co-founded Women in Engineering (WomEng), a non-profit organisation dedicated to developing engineering talent among girls in Africa, and has served as CEO since 2005. Her achievements have earned her recognition, including being named one of Forbes Magazine’s “20 Youngest Power Women in Africa” in 2014.

Ayorkor Korsah – Computer science and Robotics

Ghanaian computer scientist, robotics expert, and educator, Ayorkor Korsah, has made significant contributions to robotics and artificial intelligence. She is a senior lecturer at Ashesi University in Ghana, teaching courses in AI, robotics, and programming. Ayorkor’s research focuses on developing robots that assist humans, and she has published several papers and presented at international conferences. She is also a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, co-founding the African Robotics Network (AFRON) to promote robotics education in Africa. Her dedication to robotics and education has earned her international recognition, including the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award and a feature on BBC News.

Lucy Quist – Electrical and electronic engineering

Lucy Quist is a Ghanaian-British business and technology executive who has made a significant impact in the corporate world. With a background in electrical and electronic engineering, she has held leadership roles at top companies like Ford, Royal Bank of Scotland, Millicom, Vodafone, and Airtel Ghana, where she served as CEO. Lucy has also founded and co-founded companies, including Quist Blue Diamond and FreshPay, and has been appointed to various international and local boards. Her commitment to giving back led to her role as Vice President of FIFA’s Normalisation Committee to restructure football in Ghana. Lucy’s achievements have earned her numerous awards, including recognition as one of the most influential public figures in Ghana and top women corporate leaders. Currently, she is a managing director at Morgan Stanley in London, continuing to inspire and drive business growth.

Aïssata Issoufou Mahamadou – Chemical engineering

Former First Lady of Niger,Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou is a chemist, engineer, and healthcare advocate. She is one of the first Nigerien women to pursue a career in science, earning degrees in mineral exploration and chemistry. Aissata has had a distinguished career in the mining industry and has been a vocal advocate for healthcare and education, particularly for women and children. As First Lady, she has partnered with organisations like the Merck Foundation to increase access to healthcare and promote women’s empowerment and education, earning her recognition as an Ambassador of the “Merck More than a Mother” campaign.