Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Cisco Arms Women With ICT Solutions

THE global village phenomenon is increasingly being actualised, thanks to the growing video technology and Cisco's resolve to ensure that Africa does not take the back seat in the development.

With the power of its Telepresence technology, Cisco has pioneered several innovations aimed at widening Africa's world view and as well launch the continent powerfully into the world space.

Cisco TelePresence offers a video experience that is life-like and natural, giving a feeling of people in the same room even when they were many kilometers apart.

Meanwhile, what Cisco started out as a way to save travel costs and optimize employee time at large companies has evolved into a way of accelerating time to market, expanding access to experts, and transforming how companies do business and how education programmes can be delivered.

However, its latest move is passionate and has moved several Africans who naturally give all the best to their women folk. So when Cisco recently delivered several networking events designed to help talented young women in Africa to boost their future outlook, it was obvious they would receive rave reviews.

Among the initiatives is the Cisco Africa Women Leadership Network Program which kicked off proceedings in April. The programme targets young talented women at college and universities throughout Africa, aiming to expose them to innovative technologies and to inspiring women role models who have positively impacted society.

Botswana Ambassador to the United States, Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, moderating a session through telepresence as the Cisco Africa Women Leadership Network Programme kicked off, recently.

An elated Botswana Ambassador to the United States, Tebelelo Mazile Seretse, who moderated the seession via Cisco's telepresence, noted that mentoring and training programs aimed at young talented females in Africa are going to be vital to help Africa's future young workforce to be able to adapt and secure career opportunities in the global 21st century workforce.

Growing youth population

She added that "Africa's growing youth population needs to be equipped with the right skills to help them thrive in this ever changing world"

The session which connected up to 77 African women live to the Washington DC base of the Ambassador was monitored across Cisco offices in Lagos, Johannesburg, Tunis, Nairobi, Cairo, Casablanca, and Algiers.

Seretse shared her background, as well as the decisions she made throughout the different stages of her childhood, adulthood and her professional life to the women. She also revealed to the women, how technology has played a role in her day-to-day life.

Another key empowerment Cisco made to women in Africa within the same period, included the provision of telepresence technology to facilitate students from Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and the UAE, to meet female leaders from Cisco who shared their backgrounds, experiences and discussed how they had developed their own careers for their respective job roles.

The gesture was its contribution to a successful marking of this year's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Girl's in ICT Day.

In 2010, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) members, agreed to recognize Girls in ICT, pitching the day of celebration to the 4th Thursday of every April.

So, to mark Girls in ICT Day 2012 Cisco MENA region offices (Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and UAE) hosted 42 female students from secondary schools and universities who were invited to spend the day at Cisco offices to gain an understanding of the opportunities the ICT sector holds for their future and a deeper insight into professional fields and courses of study that may be overlooked when choosing a career.

The MENA offices participated with one agenda over TelePresence where female andmale leaders at Cisco shared their backgrounds and experiences, discussing how they developed their careers to reach leadership positions.

The girls had the opportunity to test their skills, ask questions, make important contacts and get to know Cisco employees in person. This is even as they also met other students from different backgrounds and nationalities from different countries in the region.

These developments mark significant milestones for technology in Africa and testify to the whirlwind of information and communications technology (ICT) developments in the region.

But much more than that, they also send strong signals to African men that the fure of African leadership may have started a journey into the hands of the women. Otherwise, Seretse wouldn't have said that;

"I was delighted to participate in the inaugural session for Cisco's Africa Women Leadership Network Program as I see it as a very worthwhile initiative that will inspire and grow young women who are our future leaders in the continent. As the African proverb goes, if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation"

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