In late 2021, Andela commissioned the Africa Developer Survey, designed to shine a spotlight on the often under-represented continent of Africa, and the plethora of talented technologists operating within. From insights into education, remote work, and the start-up culture permeating the industry, the report captured the DNA of Africa’s technologists, emphasizing the untapped potential of tech talent throughout the region.
But throughout the survey, one particular theme came to the fore – the importance of community.
With technologists spread out across Africa, the need for a strong community has never been more pressing. African developers are, like their counterparts around the world, contributors to the larger pool of information around issues that affect the community. And, as they continue to share information through open-source projects and online networks, the strong sense of community among developers is growing.
Rosa Langhammer, Director of Talent Experience at Andela, believes that supportive groups within the community are ensuring the expansion of the network. “We’ve seen how community structures have developed to support themselves and bring new developers on board. In Ghana, for example, DevCongress – a local developer community – has been extremely influential in growing the development capability in the country. It’s organizations like this that truly show the potential for Africa to have an impact on the global stage.”
Connecting with other developers is a critical part of any growth as a technologist, and communities play an essential role in this. According to the Africa Developer Survey, 31% of developers indicated that they were part of the Andela Learning Community (ALC), Andela’s in-house education and resource network, making it the largest community group among those surveyed, followed by the Google Africa Developer community (15%) and Stack Overflow (10%). ALC and Google are highly regarded in Africa, allowing technologists to interact with their peers and, more importantly, developers who may be facing similar challenges to them. “For many of the people participating in these networks, the ability to provide assistance and see that their work is helping others is the incentive they’re looking for to continue contributing,” says Rosa Langhammer.
The issue of support is a critical one and, in this case, there’s little difference between a developer in Africa and those in the rest of the world. When asked what they do when they get stuck, 81% of those surveyed answered: “Visit Stack Overflow” a refrain that is almost universal across the globe. 73% said that they would watch tutorial videos and 44% chose to consult a colleague, or do other work and return to the problem later.
Through contributions to open-source software projects and penning technical articles, there’s clearly increasing enthusiasm for being part of the global developer community. They’re also enthusiastic consumers of shared content, with StackOverflow being the first port of call for African developers looking to find solutions to challenging issues.
Open-source software is a critical component of the larger ecosystem. The contribution that developers make to this is a strong indicator of not just the value they place in this essential resource but also the time they have available and their confidence in their own capabilities. More than 40% of respondents to the survey indicate that they have contributed to open-source software, often working 4.4 hours per week on open-source projects. The amount of time spent on an open-source project varies widely depending on the seniority of the developers, with those describing themselves as principal developers spending on average 9.8 hours on open-source projects.
Contributing to open-source provides developers with additional insight into the complexity of modern applications, as well as enabling them to grow their skills on globally significant projects. “Many developers look towards open source projects as a way to make an impact,” comments Rosa Langhammer. “However, some of the more high profile projects look for more experience from contributors and because of this there’s some hesitancy to get involved.”
Blogging and social networks
When asked if they write technical articles, 46% of technologists surveyed indicated that they did with the most popular places to publish these articles being Medium (31%) or their personal website (28%). Hashnode, Blogger, and WordPress also featured with around 10% of developers using these platforms. Blogs are not only providing an outlet to technologists throughout Africa – enabling them to position themselves as thought leaders – they’re also acting as a calling card, inviting other developers and engineers to reach out to blog writers for advice and collaboration. Social media networks are fuelling this collaboration, with WhatsApp and LinkedIn groups forming, where Africa’s tech talent can network with other technologists not only across the continent, but across the world.
As communities grow, and members expand their collaboration network, technologists are solving complex problems together. And it’s this experience and shared knowledge that is fuelling personal growth and career development.
With a young population and rapidly rising technology infrastructure, the future is Africa. As the community of Africa’s tech champions expands further, the transformational role they continue to play across the technology industry will position the region as the tech epicenter of the world.
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.
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