Funke Opeke has an air of sureness and confidence about her, especially when it comes to moving West Africa’s telecommunications space forward. She is the CEO of MainOne Cable, a telecom service and business solutions network launched in 2010. MainOne provides wholesale internet services to eight countries in West Africa for everything from government agencies to educational spaces. To accomplish this reach, her company had to lay 7,000 km of fibre optic cable across the bottom of the ocean from Portugal to Nigeria.
As daunting as this task may seem, it did not deter Opeke who was raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. Her father was the first Nigerian director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria and her mother, a retired teacher, headed several Catholic schools. Professional success for Opeke was inevitable. Her father suggested she become a doctor, but she opted to study electrical engineering instead. Opeke attended Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife for undergraduate studies, where she was the only female in her engineering class. She then flew to New York for her Master’s at Columbia University. The 56-year-old spent more than 20 years in the U.S. as the Executive Director of Verizon Communications Wholesale Division before returning to Nigeria in 2005. Once home, she became Chief Technical Officer of MTN Nigeria Communications, a cellular telecommunications company.
MainOne has made honorable strides within the telecommunications space. In 2012, Opeke received the CNBC All Africa Businesswoman of the Year award. At the end of 2017, the company launched a development project with Tizeti and Facebook to enable the expansion of internet connectivity in Lagos. Those who have seen Opeke at work know that she is not afraid to speak up, assert herself, deliver results and actively take on challenges within her male-dominated field. Most importantly, she encourages the women of her team to do the same.