The Rise of Female Developers in Africa

By Gebeya

March 9, 2022

The contributions of African women in tech continues to gain traction in a male-dominated industry. As confident and proficient female developers  showcase their skillset on various platforms,  a rally for more to join the workforce grows louder.

The rise of female developers in Africa is highly prevalent in the Saharan region of Africa. But the true potential of African female developers is not utilized completely. The statistics demand more inclusion of women in tech at all levels. This holds implications further up the pipeline, once women are in positions of leadership and entrepreneurship: “Less than 7% of the funding has gone to female CEOs in 2021 in Africa; less than 1% to single female founders and female-only founding teams,” according to Africa: The Big Deal. Corporations and startups need to take drastic measures to increase female participation and further develop African tech talent.

Journey of Female developers in Africa

African women are making great strides in the field of tech. Like their male counterparts, they usually begin with junior developer positions and later walk up the ladder to senior positions. Most companies reward and encourage female developers without any gender bias. Women developers like Adia Sowho, Thrice Agric’s interim CEO, even join senior leadership at leading tech firms.

Some female developers in Africa are aspirational enough to start their ventures as well, such as Jetstream Africa’s Miishe Addy and Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-founder/ COO of FirstCheck Africa. The remote, freelance job culture on the other hand, encourages women to become their own bosses with flexible schedules and competitive salaries. These inspirational women later share their success stories and inspire other females. All the stories reflect the hard work and dedication these women put in to gain expertise in tech. 

A lot of female developers in Africa are able to gain IT skills through vocational training. They do so by learning industry-specific skills from online education platforms and boot camps, such as Google’s Women Techmakers program, which provides visibility, community, and resources for women in technology with over 80,000 members globally, according to the Africa Developer Ecosystem 2021 report from Google and Accenture. The new revolution of being self-reliant amongst women paves the way to develop African tech talent.

But, UNESCO statistics reveal that women participate less than men in the tech talent population of Africa.

What stops many Women from Pursuing Tech in Africa?

Technology professionals and startups essentially contribute to nations’ economic growth. Africa’s developer communities have also advanced gender diversity in recent years, with groups like She Code Africa exceeding 10,000 community members and initiatives like Tech4ImpactCIFF and the Women Entrepreneurship for Africa (WE4A) program, an accelerator for 100 female-led startups. 

But the uniform contribution of women from every part of Africa is unsatisfactory. Saharan and sub-Saharan countries like Uganda and Ghana show greater involvement of women in tech. Statistics show that the right exposure to technology is not available in many African countries. This leads to lack of awareness about opportunities amongst youth. “Our research also found that women developers, learners, and junior developers would benefit from better infrastructure and more educational opportunities. Women are 12% less likely to have written their first line of code before turning 18 than men developers,” according to the Google and Accenture report.

The female tech talent of Africa requires more support to showcase their talent. Many stories reveal instances where companies prefer male developers over female developers in Africa. A male counterpart usually receives more attention than the female one despite the same skillset and experience.

Women encounter false narratives like the tech industry being too difficult for them. These stereotypes limit opportunities and induce a sense of underconfidence amongst female developers.

How to encourage Female developers in Africa?

According to the Internet World stats report, Africa has only 10% internet penetration amongst the population. The first step to promote and develop African tech talent would be to ensure better internet access. Adequate internet availability will assure deep exposure to the global tech environment.

The access to the global community and online learning platforms develops a sense of enthusiasm in young women. It motivates them to dream big and pursue a career in tech. Encouragement of such a culture will bring better results if tech giants also take part in it. Companies should create boot camps or online events to make young females industry-ready.

When young girls think of building a career in tech, they come across various myths that bring them down. Their peers make them feel that this is a man’s world. To counter these misconceptions, institutions can conduct interactive meet-ups or seminars between students and female developers who have made it big in tech. African women tech-preneurs should share their journey and be vocal about gender-biased norms. Techpoint Africa profiled African women entrepreneurs who have raised millions in VC funding in the past three years.

The collective efforts from the entire community can create a conducive environment and effectively develop African tech talent. Companies shall also take necessary steps to ensure equality. They need to promote gender diversity so that no more female developers in Africa remain deprived of opportunities.

Proficient female developers unable to find relevant opportunities in their vicinity can consider freelancing. Platforms like Gebeya provide a pool of job opportunities for such female developers in Africa. Women can easily build their portfolios by working remotely for dynamic startups or well-established multinational corporations. 

Participation from every section of society makes any revolution successful. The 21st century is a period of technological revolution. Female developers in Africa have been doing a phenomenal job when it comes to developing world-class tech. And we need more of them. They are equally competent as their male counterparts. The only thing stopping them is the lack of the right approach and a supportive environment. But cooperative actions and a positive environment can bridge this gap.