Andela Uganda Developer Conference Recap: Interview With Teddy Ruge

The Inaugural Andela Uganda Developer Conference unpacked the day’s theme "Powering Today's Teams". With an aim of igniting and re-fuelling the passion of techies to continue building solutions that solve for both local and global problems, Andela opened up it’s doors to 100 top technologists in Uganda’s tech ecosystem and diverse tech influencers in the space, for a full day event comprising talks, panel sessions and hands-on workshops.For anyone paying attention to the technology ecosystem in Kampala and East Africa in general,Teddy Ruge will be a name that stands out. Understandably so, because Teddy is right there in the front lines of those who kickstarted the Tech ecosystem in Uganda. He is the co-founder of Hive Colab, Uganda’s first technology incubator and the CEO of Raintree Farm, an agriethical farm which grows and exports medicinal crops from Uganda.Teddy was recently appointed onto Andela’s Advisory Council. It’s a role, according to him, that affords Andela a chance at having an outsider’s perspective at a high level and a nuanced feedback on issues which will help eliminate some blind spots. He was on the panel at the Conference to talk on Techpreneurship and its intricacies. I got on a call with him shortly afterward to chat about his takeaway from the conference and the topic of discussion on the day.Insights from the conference:Teddy’s top takeaway is the curiosity of the developers about the opportunities available to them in the tech space. The audience cut across a spectrum of devs at various career growths, and each one is curious about how they can grow along their various trajectories. For example, there are devs who are eager to learn how they can transition to a product or engineering management role. Teddy says there’s a need for more tech hubs like Hive Colab, which will help provide safe spaces for innovation, collaborative work, and mentorship for devs and techies looking to build the next great businesses. On Diversity and Inclusivity in The Workplace:When the question of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace - an issue Teddy is clearly passionate about - was raised, he said,”it seems limiting to practice patriarchy in the Innovation space, especially while we’re [supposedly] solving for all people.”Teddy believes diversity should be a natural inclination at this point for people and companies. However, he agreed that some legislation might be required to enforce diversity, depending on the cultural eccentricities in the region in question.Views on Techpreneurship in Uganda and in Africa’s Tech ecosystem as a whole:With a digital economy comprising less than a million people, there is not a sizeable market support for techpreneurs in Uganda, Teddy says. A lot more needs to be done to teach startups about market psychology and digital inclusiveness. Some of the other points he raised:

  • Local startups (who are currently doing the work of building, sensitizing and growing the market) are going to need protection from the legal space to protect them from big players who might swoop in when the market matures.
  • Local startups do not have sufficient capital for expansion to other markets (which would solve the local addressable market problem).
  • The fact that there are no unified markets between African cities/countries is also a problem that makes expanding to new markets an arduous task for startups.

The ecosystem will continue to grow as more people continue to do the work of creating opportunities and support structures for techies to grow and build businesses. There is also the work to be done to grow the market, as more work is channeled towards sensitization and adopting users into the digital economy.Andela is proud to have tech leaders from the continent represented on the Advisory board to provide expertise on country-specific issues as we move to achieve our mission of advance human potential across the continent. Follow Teddy Ruge on Twitter.Looking to hire top software developers? Talk to us about scaling your team.

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