Introduction of SWE in Africa
SWE started growing its roots in Africa in 2007 when Eng. Vera Egwuatu attended the WE07 conference and was inspired to see opportunities to extend the organization to Africa. Progress began in 2008 when SWE embarked on globalizing its programs and services. Four countries – Germany, India, Japan, and Nigeria – were selected as the pilots. Eng. Vera, who was selected as the Team Lead for Nigeria, did workshops, outreach, and awareness campaigns for SWE. Though she encountered several challenges, she pushed on by speaking about SWE at several African conferences such as the INWES African Regional Workshop. Momentum began to build in 2015 as a SWE Global Ambassador emerged from Nigeria and then the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos, and River State Affiliates were established. SWE’s presence continued growing both in Nigeria and beyond its borders as additional affiliates were established in Liberia and DRC. This led Eng. Vera to request the formation of the SWE Africa Task Force to develop a strategy for the continent.
Inception of the SWE Africa Task Force
In 2020, the SWE Africa Task Force was formally established by the Board of Directors (BOD) with the aim of developing recommendations for a roadmap for SWE’s expansion in Africa. Eng. Vera was selected as the Task Force Lead, Eng. Dr. Rose-Margaret Ekeng-Itua, who was appointed as Special Director to the BOD, became the Task Force Advisor, and Eng. Enanga Daisy became the roadmap facilitator. This team then created a regional structure consisting of North, West, East and South Africa regions. A survey was distributed to members and, with that feedback, regional leaders and targeted goals were established. A leadership structure for the Task Force was also created.
- Stella Chukwu, Secretary
- Chipo Tambo, Assistant Secretary
- Lilian Motongori, Membership Lead Assistant
- Umi Kerre and Stella Uzochukwu Denis, East Africa Regional Leads
- Enia Kakombu and Chinyere Igwegbe, Central & South Africa Regional Leads
- Catherine Omada and Ruth Coker Collins, West Africa Regional Leads
- Jessica Yakwo, North Africa Regional Lead
One of the Task Force’s greatest achievements has been establishing SWE in new African regions and increasing SWE membership in Africa to nearly 100 members. There are currently 11 SWE Global Affiliates across 5 countries, as well as 16 Global Ambassadors representing the continent. The most successful activity organized by the Task Force was the Pan African International Women’s Day Conference held in March 2021. Supported by the Federation of African Engineering Organisations, the Kenya Space Agency, Champion X, and Miho Inspection System Nigeria, the virtual event had a diversity of speakers and participants from different African countries. The topics discussed included the future of IT-Fintech, the future of telecommunications/big data and its influence on culture and women, and the space industry in Africa.
Women Engineers in Africa
The Task Force’s many activities have shown that women engineers in Africa are capable and are transforming the engineering industry. Additionally, the Task Force has found that the number of women engineers in Africa is growing and, with organizations like SWE advancing women in STEM activities, the future is bright for innovation, technology, and development in Africa.
Follow SWE Africa on social media to learn more, and keep an eye out for Parts 2, 3, and 4 of this series to learn about activities taking place in the different regions: