How Women in East Africa are reshaping Tech

When law professor Douglas Branson published the book The Future of Tech is Female in 2018, he must have imagined that the global tech industry would soon be led by women.

Four years later, that future is evident in east Africa. For a long time, men dominated all senior and c-suite tech roles in the region. But as more women gained opportunities and skills, they’ve not only joined the tech industry in droves—in 2019, women made up 30% of people in tech in sub-Saharan Africa—they’re increasingly sitting in positions of power, creating tech products and services that impact more people.

Their impact on the sector has been hard to ignore. In Kenya, women-led medium-sized enterprises accounted for 48% of such businesses in 2021, which contribute around 20% to the country’s GDP.

Through leadership of local and Silicon Valley companies, women are brushing aside hurdles in tech. Meanwhile, organizations in every east African nation have popped up to mentor and train more girls who are becoming the next generation of startup founders.

Women are finally able to lead

A decade ago, most of the top tech jobs in east Africa were held by men. Now a series of new appointments is changing the narrative that women cannot handle complex technologies.

Last week, Microsoft Africa Development Centre (ADC), Microsoft’s engineering hub in Nairobi with up to 1,000 employees, appointed Catherine Muraga as the new managing director. She was previously the head of engineering at Stanbic Bank Kenya.

“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,” she told Quartz.

Rosemary Kimwatu, the former public policy manager at mobile network operator Safaricom, landed the role of data protection officer at KCB Bank Group, east Africa’s biggest bank by assets. She is joining an industry led by Immaculate Kassait, named Kenya’s first data commissioner in 2020, in a period of growing global data privacy concerns.


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