work-life balance


2019: Year of Work-Life Balance

I know it is the beginning of February, but it is never too late to say a “Happy New Year”.  Unapologetic, I am sending my new year’s message later than usual due to the extended time-off I took from work to recover from 2018 and prepare for the coming new year.

I took a memorable lengthy sojourn of three months,  to what I can call a rebellion against the ordinary chores of life, and made consecutive holiday trips to the three top rated beach-islands of Africa. This may have been a bit of a binge, but it also gave me an opportunity to get to know the beauty of the coast, its wonderful coastal people, the exotic sea-life and reef worthy of protection and the rich tropical resources the African continent has to offer. An amazing breakaway that helps heal and reactivate the mind and body.

It is now 2019. The New Year is always like a blank book, and the pen is in our own hands. It is our opportune moment to write what we want to do for the rest of the year and how we plan to achieve it.

2018 was indeed a great year for DCA, albeit a challenging one. While we accomplished our usual work that happily wakes-us up every morning, we also made a deliberate choice to postpone some of our gains for the coming year. You can read a recap of what we achieved in 2018 in our Year-End Newsletter.

DCA’s pioneership and impact in the Internet and tech space 

Today, I want to recall DCA’s successful leadership and achievements in the tech space in the past decade. This included pioneering and championing the ‘.africa’ internet domain name for the African continent.  We did this by extensive travel throughout the African continent, creating and successfully running one of the most popular and visible global awareness campaigns in the global DNS industry, namely the ‘Yes2dotAfrica campaign’, and innovative use of technology through creating the first ever multi-lingual social media infrastructure, engaging both online and traditional media platforms. Our campaign efforts at the time earned the Pan-African domain one of the “top 50 most popular domain names by global industry experts. This rating, from among the 1930 globally applied for names at the domain authority, ICANN.

What did not kill us made us stronger – our precedence continued 

Undeterred by any challenges and the direct setbacks we faced from not having the expected financial gains to support the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs we envisioned from the .africa project, we forged to give birth and successfully launch yet another pioneering Pan-African African Women-In-Tech program, Miss.Africa. We have now been able to scale to over nine Countries throughout Africa and watched many others follow our footstep, which makes us proud. The challenges we faced also helped us to take our voices in the public domain with an unprecedented, yet effective “NO campaigns”, which became a platform to help educate the African and global public to the little known principles of Internet Governance (IG) that earned us a reference of pioneering the IG space. Since then, we have vigorously championed early on, the causes of the gender divide, women-in-tech and entrepreneurship, topics that generated high interest and now become mainstream topics.  We certainly were part of the global conversation as we were invited to present our work and thoughts in these areas in international fora. In a nutshell, we were there. Our presence was felt in creating, innovating, inspiring and impacting the lives of many in Africa and across the world. We are proud of our achievements!

Therefore imagine the impact an “Individual” can make. Contrary to the “traditional” African proverb saying, it does not always “require a village to raise a child”. Each and everyone of us can get up and make ‘individual’ impact.

Not an opportunistic Endeavor

While we have seen many initiatives in Africa driven by opportunistic endeavors, my passion for pioneering, advocating and leading  such campaigns comes directly from my own early education and professional training in technology, and my experience over a decade of assisting Africa bridge the digital divide. Of course as an early adopter of technology and being a women, I was able to easily recognize the gap that existed in the tech gender divide. As such,  2019 will be a year to consolidate out gains in all areas at DCA, while we push the envelope for some opportunities in the innovative service delivery space.

Approaching 2020; A new way of thinking – impact vs high productivity

Moving forward in 2019 and also approaching the turn of the decade 2020, we face a brave new world with all its glory and vice. We have to be able to rethink how we organize, prioritize and balance the conflicting demands of our work which is mostly valued based on our productive capacity, against our best personal and human assets – our mind, body and spirit. With popular slogans everywhere such as #DoWhatYouLove, #ChangeTheWorld, #NeverGiveUp #HustleHarder, no wonder we are all confused. I am never convinced that the number of logged hours is the best measure of effectiveness and impact in a work-life. In fact “The 4-hour Work Week”, a book by Timothy Farris of San Francisco, had sealed my thoughts since over a decade ago, on what I already believed on this issue. A more recent book published that validated my thoughts on a similar subject was “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington.  At a personal capacity as well as in my organizational culture, I have always advocated for such topics less talked about – maintaining a healthy work-life balance – or simply in today’s millennial slogan #YouDoYou. Parallel to my advocacy on the philosophy of positive “tech disruption”, and how it has the ability to create a welcome change in our societies, if we regularly engage in doing something out of our comfort zone for our mind, body and spirit, I’m a great believer that we will find ourselves in a much better space as human beings, as well as be more effective in our work.

Women are more over worked than men in Africa

Last year in my talk at the EurAfrica forum in Portugal, I highlighted that women make up 40% of the workforce in more than 80 countries globally. Surprisingly, the top five countries with the highest female representation in the workforce are all in sub-Saharan Africa. From that reality we know in Africa, perhaps globally, women take more of the burden of running the household, raising the children, and spending time at work to earn that dual income. The unanswered question is where does the cycle end? what and who defines that cycle to be the norm?  I anticipate this topic to be as popular as the one we have created in the past, and would have a larger pool of audience than the scope of Women-in-Tech.  That is the idea of this conversation after-all 🙂

A Moment of Silence

As we say hello to 2019, our hearts go out to all affected by the recent attack at the 14 Riverside in Nairobi, Kenya. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I was recently in Nairobi and found myself visiting the WestGate Shopping Mall, which was a victim of the same in 2013 with even larger number of casualties.  I was so elated with its comeback, even stronger and better and posted some notes on my Instagram with #BouncingBack, #NeverGivingUp tags. Hence and now for the Riverside tragedy, we are uniting under the #WeShallOvercome. God Bless the souls of those who lost their lives and a heart felt condolences for their families.

Wishing  everyone a year of self reflection towards a healthy work-life balance!

Our 2019 Tech Forecast

2019 will see an increased focus on automation dependent on cloud. 2018 was a challenging year for tech, 2019 may prove to be even worse.

Internet of Things (IoT) continues to present numerous opportunities for players in different businesses and industries, but so will challenges rise pertaining convergence of business, technology and society.

The following are our predictions:

  • The workspace as we know it will evolve with A.I. and automation software taking over some jobs.
  • The rise of cloud based cyber security platforms
  • Focus and shift to the true value of data in all spheres
  • Humane technology and ethical data use
  • Tech powered healthcare
  • 5G fine tuning and pilot implementation
  • Mobile app development slows down and increased focus web applications
  • eCommerce becomes mainstream
  • Increased attention to drone usage by governments
  • Gigabit internet satellites and faster broadband alternatives
  • Chatbot AI evolution, but with certain backlash

What will continue:

Focus on start-ups offering local solutions, IoT investments, GDPR implementation, electric cars gain, cyber attacks including malware, adware, the slow to steady growth for crypto-currency, solar energy proliferation, fight for privacy, robotic fine tuning, cable TV slows down, and live streaming peaks, women-in-tech.

What will be challenged:

Data abuse, privacy breaches, proliferation of AI and robotics, Fake news, Online regulation and censorship.

What will be on the rise:

Awareness and focus on work-life-balance aka #YouDoYou

Happy, Healthy, Prosperous 2019. God Bless Africa & the World!


Sophia Bekele

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