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.


Charmaine is passionate about female and community development and serves pro bono on various boards and trusts whose objectives are aligned to her values. She spends her weekends and evenings motivating and often personally sponsoring participants at hackathons, SMME workshops or speaking at township community events, seminars, schools or universities to share her knowledge the ICT sector. Charmaine approached the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in 2018 and offered to coach and mentor the Youth Ambassadors shape their projects aimed at bringing the NDP 2030 initiatives to life. She was able to convince various ICT companies to sponsor a number of the NDP Ambassadors enabling them to further develop and implement their respective solutions. Charmaine recently authored an industry 4.0 skills coordination paper for the DTPS, a workshop is scheduled with industry leaders in October 2018 to share the concept and explore implementation.


Charmaine is a long time mentor and sponsor of and serves on the Advisory Board of Girlcodeza; a social enterprise that aims to empower young girls and women through technology by teaching them how to code and design. She was instrumental in hosting the first hackathon with Girlcode in 2014.


Charmaine recently founded Afriel; a non-profit organization that mentors young professionals with the goal of retaining females in the ICT sector. She is a co-founder of and partnered with the African Women’s Chartered Accountant Association (AWCA) and Duke University CE to launch the Mentorship Circle (2017) which provides free coaching, mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for future leaders on jobs of the future, and provides a tool kit to the mentees to implement a legacy project in their respective communities and or organisations.


She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Global Broadband Plan for Refugees Project to meet the broadband connectivity goal set by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). Charmaine 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). Charmaine 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 the ICT sector especially 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. 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. CNBC Africa featured Charmaine as a disruptor in ICT in August 2017.