Original Research - Special Collection: Women in Business in Africa

Gender composition of ownership and management of firms and the gender digital divide in Africa

Emmanuel Orkoh, Wilma Viviers
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 52, No 1 | a2227 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v52i1.2227 | © 2021 Emmanuel Orkoh, Wilma Viviers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 June 2020 | Published: 27 July 2021

About the author(s)

Emmanuel Orkoh, TRADE Research Focus Area, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Wilma Viviers, TRADE Research Focus Area, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Purpose: This study analysed the determinants of firms’ adoption and utilisation of digital technologies in Africa, with specific attention to the gender structure of firms’ ownership and management, in the interest of closing the gender digital divide.

Design/methodology/approach: Logistic and Poisson regression techniques were used to analyse firm-level data from the World Bank’s Enterprise Survey in 48 African countries for the period 2006–2019.

Findings/results: (1) Representation: The descriptive analysis shows very low representation of women in the ownership and management of firms in Africa. Whilst just over a quarter of the firms were partly women-owned, less than 10% are majority- or all-women-owned and only 12% have women as a top manager. The results are a comparison of firms according to gender composition. (2) Adoption: The regression estimates suggest that firms that are partly women-owned are more likely to adopt digital technologies, but all-women-owned and firms with women as top managers are less likely to adopt digital technologies for their business activities. These results on the adoption of digital technologies remained consistent with the results on utilisation of digital technologies for business activities. (3) Utilisation: Partly women-owned or women-led firms are less likely to use digital technologies for business activities such as using the Internet for research and placing orders. However, these firms are more likely to use e-mail for business communication. Partly women-owned firms are more likely to use digital technologies more intensively, whilst the opposite was observed for majority- or fully women-owned and women-led firms.

Practical implications: This study highlights the need for initiatives focussed on developing women in Africa’s knowledge and use of digital technologies in business. Based on the results, women are urged to enhance their skills in this domain. This may present greater opportunities in terms of employment of women to increase women’s representation.

Originality/value: The article contributes to knowledge on the nexus between gender digital divide and gender inequality in ownership and management of firms. The results may also inform initiatives to narrow the digital divide in Africa.


digital technologies; digital divide; gender; management; ownership; firms; Africa.


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Crossref Citations

1. Firms' digital investment and resilience to shocks: Evidence from the COVID‐19 pandemic in Ghana
Raymond Elikplim Kofinti, Emmanuel Orkoh, Raymond Boadi Frempong, Samuel Kobina Annim
Journal of International Development  vol: 35  issue: 7  first page: 2157  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1002/jid.3769