The Judges

Charmaine Houvet

Charmaine Houvet’s love and passion for the ICT industry comes from over two decades of telecommunications experience working with private and public sector organizations across Africa. She joined Cisco in March 2016 with several years’ experience as a Senior Executive in diverse and transformative roles with high profile leading ICT companies.

Charmaine holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. She is passionate about female and community development and serves on various boards and trusts whose objectives are aligned to her values. She is a Trustee of the Cisco Charitable Trust Board which is headquartered in San Jose as well as a Board member of the Cisco Systems & Cisco Technology and Services in country.

She serves as a Chairperson of the South African Women in ICT Forum board and the South African Communications Forum (SACF). She is a member of the invitation only South African Chapter of the International Women’s Forum of South Africa. Charmaine is passionate about transformation and the advancement of women in the sector and is the recipient of a number of business awards in recognition of her vision, leadership and achievements in the ICT sector. 

Nomso Kana

Miss Nomso Kana is a Nuclear scientist by trade and working as an entrepreneur in the ICT and broadband infrastructure sector. She has been recently named as one of the top inspiring women in ICT by the kingdom of Netherlands through the SA embassy and CoCreateSA.

She drives UN Women Southern Africa endorsed programs that empower women and the girl child in the SADC. She is serving as a Programme director for Taungana Africa, a non-profit movement that provides high school girls from rural and extremely underexposed sub-Saharan communities with world-class access platform and exposure to education and career options in STEM (science, technology, engineering/entrepreneurship and mathematics). 

She is currently a managing director and founder of two companies, namely Sun n Shield 84 Technologies a fibre optic cable manufacturing start-up and Blaze Away SA, a business strategy consulting firm. She is a South African Delegation leader for the World sustainability energy forum based in Vienna Austria, contributing towards sustainable solutions in mobility, energy, environment, waste management and community for cities around the globe. 

Lindiwe Matlali

Lindiwe Matlali is the Founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks; an NGO that teaches kids how to code. She is currently studying towards MS in Technology Management from Columbia University in New York as well as a Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Stanford University.

Her numerous accolades includes  Innov8tive Magazine Top 50 Visionary Women in #Tech To Watch in 2017, Destiny Magazine Power of 40 a list of South Africa’s powerful women under 40, Top 50 most inspiring women in tech 2017, MTN Women in ICT Community Builder Recognition Award 2018 and Fairlady/Santam Social Entrepreneur 2018.

Lindiwe is also an accomplished speaker, she gave a Tedx talk at TEDxBeaconStreet in Boston Massachusetts and at the 20th MIT Venture Capital and Innovation Conference in 2018

Herman Singh

As Group Chief Digital Officer of MTN Group Herman was responsible for developing and growing the Digital business. He led the teams that grew the Digital Business to over a Billion Dollars of revenue, was a director and responsible executive of the first African Unicorn (Jumia), built one of the largest Mobile Money implementations in the world with 50 Million clients and also led the team that created Africa’s largest music streaming solution what was the fifth largest in the world in terms of paying subscribers as well as the largest mobile gaming portal in Africa with over 7 million customers.

He served on 8 boards for MTN including the JV with MMI in the insurance space (aYo). In some regions the digital business made up oer 30% of total operator revenue.  Herman served on the strategy advisory group of the GSMA, was the responsible executive for the investment in Travelstart (70% market-share in ZA in the online travel business) and served on the board of MTN’s music subsidiary, Content Connect Africa.

He has played a large role in developing ecosystems of smaller firms from content providers on the various portals to payment networks with merchants and agents.  He has also led the new business incubator at the University of Cape Town and the African Entrepreneurship awards for start-ups at that institution. His engagement with partnerships with smaller firms has led to the creation of new business opportunities of hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Natasha Abed

Natasha Abed is Executive for Customer Operations at MTN SA. She has in this role since September 2017. Abed joins MTN SA from MultiChopice SA where she was the General Manager for Customer Care at Multichoice, a role she has served in since 2014. 

In her current role, she is responsible for developing and implementing a strategy to improve MTN SA’s customer experience delivery. She holds a Management Advancement Programme from Wits Business School and also a Customer Centricity, Strategic Thinking and Planning course, all from the University of Pretoria and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).

Giovanni Chiarelli 

Giovanni Chiarelli is the Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN South Africa. He has served in this role since November 2016. Chiarelli is a seasoned professional with extensive experience in the fields of information and technology gleaned from a number of multi-national corporations, including Infostrada, Accenture, Telecom Italia and Vodafone Group.

Chiarelli is responsible for shaping and driving technology and information strategies for MTN SA. Before joining MTN SA, Chiarelli was the Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone Romania, and prior to that he served as the Global IT Programme Director for Vodafone Group. Chiarelli holds an Electrical Engineering degree from Poliecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy and a MBA from Universita Luigi Bocconi, Milan, Italy. In 2009, Oracle Corporation awarded him ‘CIO of the Year for the EMEA Region’.

Phinda Ncala

Phinda Ncala is the Executive: Information Technology at MTN South Africa. He has in this role since December 2017. Ncala joined MTN SA from South African Airways where he served as Chief Information Officer.

Phinda’s career spans across the telecommunications and banking sectors, having started his illustrious career at Swaziland Development Bank before joining MTN Swaziland in 1998 as the Information Systems Manager. He then moved to MTN Uganda as Chief Information Officer, where he was responsible for all IT resource planning, budgeting and operational initiatives.

In 2009 he transferred back to MTN Swaziland to work on a number of special projects. In his current role at MTN, he is responsible for leading, providing support on infrastructure, applications, and data centre facilities across MTN South Africa. He holds a B.Sc. in Management Information Systems from Bridgewater State in the United States.

Marco Gagiano

Marco Gagiano is the Executive for Customer Value Management at MTN South Africa. He has in this role since June 2018. Gagiano joins MTN SA from our parent, MTN Group, where he was General Manager of Business Services and Operations in the SEA (Southern and East Africa) region’s Vice-President’s office. In that role, he was responsible for commercial and operational support to all the SEA markets.

Before he joined MTN Group, Gagiano served as Director of Customer Value Management at Business Logic Systems (UK), where he was responsible for management of customer value management infrastructure and consulting teams of various international mobile operator groups. Prior to Business Logic Systems, he held management roles in various campanies including Vodacom and Vodafone Group. He holds a PhD from Stellenbosch University and a Master of Business Administration from Henley Business School in the UK.