From startups to studies, African developers are inspiring innovation across the world

tech talent working

With a population of over 1.2 billion people, Africa is home to an abundance of talent with skills and experience who positively contribute to the technological growth of companies all over the world. To understand more about the environment Africa’s technologists are operating in, we commissioned the Africa Developer Survey 2022, which offers insights into education, remote work, and the ever-growing start-up culture.

Continental Africa holds limitless opportunities, and as a continuation of our mission to connect brilliance and opportunity, we invited over 1,000 developers across Africa to take part in our survey.

The constant drive to gain more knowledge and for personal improvement is one that characterizes the African developer. While the majority of
developers have a university degree, they characterize themselves as “self-taught”. With the pace of technology accelerating, it’s become next
to impossible for formal educational structures to keep pace with the needs of the market leaving developers to find their own way, shifting their focus to current and future requirements. Education is top of mind, and it is this drive for knowledge that’s ensuring Africa’s developers are leading the way in technology innovation.

Agnes Muthoni, Director of Talent Partnerships at Andela, feels that the fast-paced industry is contributing to this education surge “The way people learn is evolving, and where formal education is slow to respond people find their own paths. Technology moves so fast that any developer wanting to stay abreast of the latest trends is constantly looking to upgrade their skills.”

More than three-quarters of survey respondents said that they had taught themselves to code, with almost half also learning coding through
school or university. 40% learned coding through community learning programs highlighting the importance of these initiatives. The strong
inclination towards learning environments outside of formal education is an indicator of the potential for education systems across the continent to better meet the needs of potential developers, but also of the desire of those interested in building a career in technology to grow their skills through whatever tools are available.

Andela Community Member Elijah Rwothoromo puts his educational aspirations down to the emergence – and increasing importance – of the remote workplace. “Remote work has challenged me to keep learning. To be successful as a remote software developer, I needed to be an independent contributor and an effective team collaborator. There was only one way that would be possible; continuous learning and self-development.”

Agnes Muthoni believes that Andela, and the Andela Learning Community program, is a perfect partner for those seeking to boost their innovation and take the next step on their career journey. “Part of what we’re trying to do is offer support to the community in the form of partnerships and targeted content to help them continue to grow.”

As Africa’s developer community hone their skills, they are also setting their sights on new career paths. Upskilling opens doors to more opportunities – particularly in creative, directorial roles where they can make an impact on the technology industry directly. There’s a strong desire for African developers to learn skills beyond their technical capabilities, with 27% of survey respondents identifying Project Management as the top non-technical skill they’d like to improve, ahead of Leadership/Team Management (24%). The demand to expand their skills beyond software development is echoed by the importance placed on Career Development, as Agnes Muthoni confirms “We’re also seeing that developers are actively looking to improve their communications skills. Especially among those whose first language isn’t English, there’s a clear understanding that communicating effectively is vital to growing their careers.”

With 50% of Africa’s developers working for global organizations, it’s clear that organization’s across the world are waking up to the immense potential of Africa’s growing developer community. As developers expand their horizons and develop their knowledge, a new trend has emerged – the surge of startups. With investment in startup companies drives technological innovation, across Africa startup funding continues to rise, with $2.8 billion invested in 2021.

Mike Ndimurukundo, Managing Director at Andela Rwanda, believes there are two chief factors driving the African startup boom, “The world is realizing that Africa has brilliant talent that is actively building and contributing to the expansion of tech, and the proliferation of internet access and mobile phones is playing a huge role that the African youth are leveraging. As such, it has unlocked possibilities for youth across the continent who know that they have a global audience.” Mike believes that this is only the beginning for Africa’s innovative developers and their career development. “Local talent development is going to play a major role, with more startups investing in this. In the past, this was left to higher education institutions and companies such as Andela, however, with the entry into the market of global tech startups such as Microsoft, AWS, Google & Facebook, startups are realizing the need to nurture their technologists and build loyalty for the long-term.”

And it is often African developers who are at the helm of these new, booming unicorns and startup organizations. 36% of survey respondents confirmed that they had founded their own startups, with 30% having raised their own funding. This indicates that while most of those surveyed are working full or part-time they maintain an entrepreneurial focus. Of note is the strong educational focus of these startups with almost 25% of startups focused on this area followed by telecommunications (16%) and FinTech (12%). Developers are not only seeking to hone their own skills, but they’re also seeing the potential in education as a whole – and finding ways to capitalize on this growing industry through startups. With education a critical need across the continent, and Africa becoming a hotbed for mobile innovation, developers are looking to meet local needs first.

Mike Ndimurukundo states that developer empowerment and innovation are fuelling the Education industry boom. “It’s a combination of driven and talented youth that finally have access to the right resources (educational, server resources, etc.) which has empowered them to level the playing field and change their lives. I believe that we are going to keep seeing a lot of African technologists transition to tech, since they see it as an exciting and lucrative career.”

The larger picture emerging from the survey is that not only is the African developer community focused on self-improvement, but they’re looking beyond their immediate surroundings for the opportunity to grow and contribute. And as they develop their skills and craft, fuelling innovation within the region, worldwide organizations are sitting up and taking notice of the talent on offer. With ready access to high-speed internet access and a can-do attitude, African developers are at the vanguard of the remote-first revolution.

To discover more insights into the world of African developers, download the Africa Developer Survey now. Watch the Africa Developer Survey video to discover highlights from the report.

Want to be part of the Andela Community? Then join the Andela Talent Network!

With more than 175,000 technologists in our community, in over 90 countries, we’re committed to creating diverse remote engineering teams with the world’s top talent. And our network members enjoy being part of a talented community, through activities, benefits, collaboration, and virtual and in-person meetups.

All you need to do to join the Andela Talent Network is to follow our simple sign-up process.

Submit your details via our online application then…

Complete an English fluency test – 15 minutes.

Complete a technical assessment on your chosen skill (Python, Golang, etc.) – 1 hour.

Meet with one of our Senior Developers for a technical interview – 1 hour.

Visit the Andela Talent Network sign-up page to find out more.

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