Dr Omobola Johnson is Honorary Chair of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) and a Senior Partner at TLcom Capital LLP. An engineer and experienced ICT professional, Dr Johnson previously served as Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Technology, where she focused on the launch and execution of Nigeria’s National Broadband Plan, and supported the development of the Nigerian technology industry, including the pioneering involvement of the government in a local venture capital fund and a network of start-up incubators.
I met Dr Omobola Johnson at the Africa Summit For Women and Girls in Technology organized by Web Foundation in October 2018. It was a great honour and privilege to chat with her about her role as Nigeria’s Minister, her work in the private and development sectors, mentoring and the technology space on this episode of the #WomenSeries.
She has a Bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Manchester; a Master’s in Digital Electronics from King’s College London, and a Doctorate in Business Administration from the School of Management of Cranfield University.
Here are a few highlights from our conversation
- On what inspired her acceptance to be on the board of Web Foundation following your role and service to Nigeria as Minister: Dr Omobola said her journey to Web Foundation started from her role as the honourable chairperson for the Alliance For Affordable Internet (A4AI) and that came about when I met Sonia (Executive Director of A4AI) as Nigeria’s ICT Minister
- Nigeria’sA4Ai membership: Under her leadership as ICT Minister, Nigeria was the first country to join the Alliance for Affordable Internet
- For her, joining the board of Web Foundation was an opportunity to extend the impact of the influence that needed to happen around providing affordable connectivity for all. She was also the first African to be on the board. She sees it as a tremendous opportunity to work with giants in the connectivity across the globe
- Being a role model and mentoring: She spends quite a lot of her time mentoring women, she gets to connect with young women and understand what their issues are
- Message to young women: You can DO IT too and do it better. As a woman in tech, you will come against brick walls and hearing people say you can’t do it too and that its a man’s world, but you CAN
- Star-struck moment: One of her biggest and star-struck moments was meeting the founder of the web Tim Berners-Lee
- On her passion for Women and affordable access: Many women who are not allowed to go to school or access to basic needs of life have the internet to rely on for inclusion.
- On The Power of technology: There is so much power in technology that you can actually use to progress the gender divide agenda
- On valuable career lessons learnt in her years of experience in the private, public and development sectors to women: She acknowledges her privilege of being fortunate enough and doesn’t take any of it for granted.
- She advised young women to follow their own path and not follow anyone else’s path, she didn’t deliberately plan to be Minister or all that she has she achieved
- She made up her mind on being the best at whatever she was going to be and prepared well for the work ahead, even as Minister
- Leaving government: She prepared for what she wanted to do when she left government, she decided to work with a ventures capital firm