Over the last half-decade, the number of young people in Africa embarking on a career path in software has been on the rise as a tech renaissance sweeps across the continent. From senior developers working full-time jobs or freelancing from the comfort of their homes, to junior and mid-level programmers honing their craft, the developer community is turning to open source as a way to level up and attain world-class status.
For newbie developers, collaborating on open source projects is the fastest way to learn – it’s like labs for tutorials. For senior developers, contributing to and collaborating on open source help sate the desire to build cool things that matter, along with building up bragging rights in the tech community. That’s why every now and again, a poll surfaces that displays the companies or individuals who contribute the most to Open Source.
Here at Andela, our software developers are fully integrated team members working with companies halfway around the world from our offices in Lagos, Nairobi, and Kampala. Some of these companies actively work on Open Source projects and technologies – like OpenMRS, a company heavily vested in building a common platform upon which medical informatics efforts in developing countries can be built. Others who work in companies dealing on proprietary software products also actively contribute to Open Source in their spare time. Because collaboration is a skill that comes in handy beyond their typical 9-5 engagements – it’s one of the skills that help them stay a cut above and ahead of the curve.
In a recent article featuring the findings of Adobe Developer Fil Maj’s research, where he ranks companies on the total number of employees actively contributing to open source projects on GitHub, Andela placed 29th out of the top 30 companies in the world, with 259 Andela developers actively contributing to Open Source. For a company with around 800 developers, that’s almost a third of the staff contributing to Open Source. Being on the list with companies like Microsoft, Facebook, IBM and GitHub is a testament to the way Andela (and Africa) stack up against today’s biggest technology companies.
Here’s a quick sample of the kind of projects Andela developers work on:
Andela Developer Eugene Mutai (who is currently the #1 ranked GitHub developer on Nairobi) wrote a program called Dumb Passwords—an NPM module that checks to see whether a user has provided a password that’s among the top 10,000 worst passwords to use. Sourced from an array of different IT analysts and companies, the program is an easy way to see if your cat’s name, followed by your birthday happens to be more common than you think.
Resident Microsoft ‘Most Valuable Professional’ and .NET master Toni Solarin Sodara is also a big contributor. One of his projects, ReadLine, has already gathered 546 stars and 34 forks on GitHub. ReadLine is a GNU Readline like library built in pure C#. It can serve as a drop-in replacement for the inbuilt Console.ReadLine() and brings along with it some of the terminal goodness native to UNIX shells, like command history navigation and tab auto-completion. It is cross-platform and runs anywhere .NET is supported, targeting netstandard1.3 means that it can be used with .NET Core as well as the full .NET Framework.
Samuel James, a developer based out of Lagos, put together a project called Paystack Python—a Python library for the payments service Paystack. This project enables other developers to easily add payment processing to apps geared towards the Nigerian market, where mobile is the de facto medium of exchange.
Open source is arguably the single largest catalyst for advancing technology and improving the quality of software developers around the world. Successful companies and innovators have learned early on that a system allowing software developers to collaborate and learn from each other serves the greater good and pushes the envelope on innovation.
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