How Women in East Africa are Reshaping Tech?

For years, men dominated the senior and c-suite tech roles in Africa. But now, things are changing as more women gain skills and opportunities. In 2019, women made up 30% of people in tech in sub-Saharan Africa. Now, many of them are sitting in the position of power and creating tech products and services that impact countless lives.

In Kenya, 48% of medium-sized enterprises were led by women. These enterprises contribute as much as 20% to the country's GDP.

Even a decade back, most of the tech jobs in East Africa were held by men. Now, women are bagging those roles and changing the mindset that women cannot handle complex technologies.

The Future is Promising

A few days back, Microsoft Africa Development Centre (ADC), Microsoft's engineering hub in Nairobi with as many as 1,000 employees, appointed Catherine Muraga as the new managing director. She said, "The future (of women in tech) is promising; we have seen more women taking up leadership roles in technology departments. The growth might be slow, but it is happening."

Rosemary Kimwatu is now the data protection officer at KCB Bank Group, which is East Africa's biggest bank by assets.

On June 6, Meta hired Kendi Ntwiga as its new global head of misrepresentation. In the new role, she will work to scale Meta's enforcement of community standards.

Faith Gitonga has spent two years as the Kenya country director at African payments company Cellulant. Caroline Mukiira has also worked as IBM's East Africa general manager for the same duration.

Faith Mugambwa, fintech company Network International's East Africa managing director, stated, "It's great to see more women employed in product development and innovation roles at technology companies. I would like to see more female voices involved at key decision-making levels to increase advocacy for other women."

Getting Started is Simpler

Acquiring tech skills is becoming simpler with time. Women in Technology Uganda (Witu)  is doing a good job. Over 75% of its more than 8,000 alumnae "start their own businesses or land digital jobs," says its website.

In Nairobi, the AkiraChix coding course has taught coding to over 10,000 east African women. Pitch competitions like Rwanda's Miss Geek Rwanda competition are also helpful.

More Opportunities Needed

Mugambwa, the Ugandan fintech managing director, thinks that women still need help to get into leadership roles and board positions. She also added their appointment shouldn't happen as a result of tokenism. She stated, "I would like to see more mentorship and coaching opportunities to help aspiring women in tech tackle any doubt they might have about their abilities or ambitions in tech. There is still a financial challenge, with women facing more challenges to accessing funding or capital for tech businesses as well as the continued gender pay gap."

Women in the region face significant obstacles like economic uncertainty, political instability, physical insecurity, and legal inequality. Also, women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region need more help than others as they are still not properly educated and are not morally, emotionally, and financially empowered enough to make changes in their respective societies. It should be changed as well.



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