“Inspired to set up DotConnectAfrica, as its name aimes, to Connect Africa through a Single Pan-African domain name“
The CIO East Africa, an influential IT, Business and Leadership News Magazine talked to Sophia Bekele about her journey, taking stock of a decade of professional activities and achievements to date, in the ICT and DNS Industry, Internet Governance and Business and being an industry leader in her field, including her involvement, leadership positions and impactful work in policy she has rendered to global organizations including multiple United Nations (UN) organs, ICANN and a number of others, therefore naming her an Industry Trailblazer and Internet Governance Pioneer!
CIO chronicled her achievements as such!
Like the women innovators who came before her, Ms. Bekele’s contribution in the ICT Industry has been significant. She is well known in the global ICT and internet working environments for her efforts to bridge the global digital divide through technology transfer and education.
She is considered as trailblazer for her efforts in the world of internet governance terrain, where she has accomplished impactful work on internet policy and governance.
While she is also known for her successful career in the IT and Internet world, her most recent work focused on introducing and championing the .Africa domain name for Africa. That became quite a journey in governance and an African story.
In 2014, she was named among the two leading ladies in Africa’s ICT sector” by Bloomberg TV, which recognized the “most fearless, competitive and visionary African women of our time.” Later that year was named by the UK’s NewAfrican magazine as one of the “50 Trailblazers.”
The Reporter Daily, a prominent publication in Ethiopia also recognized her as one of “10 Women that Matter,” noting she is among the women who’ve “made their mark on society.
Her proudest moment was recognition from a global language group in 2010 as a “Champion” of their very complicated cause, which entailed navigating through a highly technical and political path in launching an Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) policy at ICANN, when she was an advisory to policy regarding domain names.
With this in place, small businesses can register their own language at the URL level of the internet and reap the benefit under their own control rather under than western-owned registries, where some of the most successful new domains have launched.
Most of her startups were created to assist in technology transfers and bridging the digital divide at the time when Africa has an early need for building IT infra-structure. “My companies did well in the share of the market, handled important projects where we implemented large-scale fiber optic-based ICT infrastructure networking projects for high-profile regional clients in governments and businesses in Ethiopia.
“We also introduced the first Domain Name System (DNS) market in the country. As the industry consolidated, I kept up my interests and moved into emerging technologies using new startups”.
“Initially I was inspired to set up DotConnectAfrica, as its name aims to connect Africa through a single pan-African domain name, which I initiated and brought to Africa, and at the same time use it to create an education platform for using the internet to benefit Africa;’ she said.
“Since then, we have proposed various initiatives under DCA, but what has taken off most successfully is the popular and the first Pan-African women in tech program, namely Miss.Africa.”
Challenges? Yes just like her male counterparts. Ms. Bekele pointed out the main challenge as a woman CEO is running an organization to an optimum with the vision and mission set out and the resources allocated. “Second, the challenge of being a woman in tech is obviously to overcome some of the gender-bias where the male fraternity tend to lean towards the club mentality even as a means of get-ting over you. But I think it has become societally unacceptable now more than ever to not have the gender balance. And companies are realizing the danger of ignoring the unique talent women bring to the table, to their bottom line;’ she said.