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Meet Marieme Jamme
Much has been written about the technological developments in the continent and one of the leading advocates for positive change is Marieme Jamme.
Diasporan, tech guru and successful business woman Jamme was interviewed by three young journalists at the See Africa Differently Workshop and they were bowled over by the scope of her ambitions!
‘Transparency, accountability and notoriety’ are the three words which keep coming up when talking to Marième Jamme, a key figure in bringing technology to Africa.
Coming from a wealthy background in Senegal, it would have been easy to follow her mother into a life of comfort and privilege. However, Marieme challenged these expectations and now lives in London, boasting an impressive list of technological innovations currently making a difference across the African continent.
She is rightly proud of the innovation coming out of the continent – with apps that deal with issues as diverse as climate change to safety for women. This technology is helping to give the people on the ground in Africa access to information on their rights, access to the work their government is doing and the means to express themselves through social media. This contributes to greater transparency and allowing people to hold their representatives accountable.
There has already been lots of progress, ’Twelve years ago no one cared. I was just seen as an angry, black woman from Senegal.’ Now, as a pioneer in bringing technology to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, she insists that notoriety is key: ‘You have to be notorious in what you do, and understand your subject. You need evidence to back it up, then people are scared of what you say.’ And this is good, because it means that things are changing.
‘Generally speaking, the average person will make the assumption that technology solely concerns computers, the internet and anything else that runs on electricity.’ Jamme makes it her priority to bridge the gap between the use of technology and the social implications that come along with using it. Rather than simply serving as an empty vessel to bring Africa up to speed with the rest of the world, it also succeeds in providing African people with an increasing amount of platforms on which they can express themselves, and ensure sustainability within their countries.
As well as striving to provide countless African nations with access to the latest forms of technology, one of Marieme Jamme’s main priorities is relaying the importance of sustaining development across various African nations. One of the ways in which she proposes this can be achieved, is by providing Africans with opportunities to learn about technology itself. She believes that policy makers have a responsibility to ensure that science and technology is incorporated into the curriculums of various nations across Africa. As well as relying on the education system to ensure independence and sustainability, Marieme refers to ‘tech hubs’ (of which there are 60 spread across Africa) as a means of bringing like-minded Africans together to share ideas regarding technology.
Speaking of sharing ideas, Marieme also founded Africa Gathering, in 2008. Africa Gathering is a social coming-together of Africans to share ideas about their beloved continent. When asked what inspired her, Marième said she saw “lost souls” in the eyes of her fellow Africans that she shared encounters with. One day whilst having lunch at a pub, she had a light bulb moment; she was going to create a platform for Diasporans to connect with the Motherland, bringing people together and giving them visibility. Africa Gathering aims to create an environment where this trust can begin to take shape and hopefully birth fruitful interpersonal and professional bonds. It has been described as the TED.com of Africa, to which Marième commented on jokingly “I think they are jealous of us!” Africa Gathering is held around June every year so be sure to pencil in a provisional memo for next year. We know we are!