IWF member profile

Charmaine Houvet

Charmaine Houvet

Senior Director: Africa, Cisco

Senior Director: Africa, Cisco

Charmaine Houvet has over two decades of telecommunications experience working with private and public sector organizations across Africa. She joined Cisco with several years’ experience as a Senior Executive in diverse and transformative roles with high profile leading ICT companies. Charmaine leads Cisco’s technology growth, government affairs strategy, regulatory, and public policy efforts across Africa. She partners with heads of state and various stakeholders in public, private, academia and civil society to advance the digitalisation agenda across the continent. This includes shaping and advancing strategies that foster innovation and digital technologies.

Positions on Board

  • Charmaine serves as Chair of the ICT industry association, the South African Communications Forum (SACF)
  • She is a board member on the Cisco local board and acts as Chair of the Cisco charitable Trust headquartered in San Jose
  • Charmaine serves on the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution under President Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa. She chairs the Policy and Law reform workstream of the Presidential 4IR commission
  • She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Broadband Plan for Refugees Project whose objective is to meet the broadband connectivity goal set by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR)
  • She serves on the advisory board of ZASpace a local platform to bolster the competitiveness of South Africa’s burgeoning space industry

Community Service Development Programmes with Government

Charmaine was nominated as the strategic partner by the Ministry of Development Planning and Evaluation (DPME) in 2017 to design, launch and implement the National Development Plan (NDP 2030) Youth Brand Ambassadors programme. This programme was aimed at selecting 37 of SA’s rising stars from various fields of entrepreneurship whose values displayed aspirations of the NDP 2020 plan and match them with a sponsor in the Corporate sector. By mid-2018 Charmaine ensured that every entrepreneur was matched with a sponsor and these relationships are still ongoing in 2020. Charmaine continues to work with one of the NDP Ambassadors who owns Township Entrepreneurs Alliance (TEA). TEA is a platform for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to engage, learn, access mentorship, and skills necessary to start and operate a business.

In 2018, Charmaine was nominated by the Ministry of Development Planning and Evaluation (DPME) as a Women of Fortitude aimed at honouring the legacy of Mama Albertina Sisulu. Charmaine and other Women of Fortitude Ambassadors encourage the current generation of young South Africans to continue MaSisulu’s legacy of activism through community service involvement projects.

Recognition by Peers

Charmaine is passionate about transformation and the advancement of the ICT sector especially women in the sector and is the recipient of several business awards in recognition of her vision, collaboration, leadership, and achievements in the ICT sector. In November 2016, she was named South Africa’s Top Woman in ICT and in August 2017 Charmaine was awarded the MTN Ministerial Recognition Award for her outstanding contribution towards advancing the ICT industry in South Africa. In 2018 Charmaine was nominated by her peers in the ICT industry as a finalist for the IT personality of the year award.

Paying it Forward

Charmaine is a co-founder of the Mentorship Circle (2017) with the African Women’s Chartered Accountant Association (AWCA) and Duke University CE providing free coaching, mentorship, and sponsorship opportunities for future leaders on jobs of the future.

Charmaine recently founded Afriel; a non- profit organization that mentors, coaches, and sponsors young female leaders in the ICT sector.

Charmaine holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) qualification.