Demand for African Tech Developers on the Rise, Google Reveals

Technology startups in the software development ecosystem in Nigeria and other African countries have continued to attract international investment and support, just as the over 700,000 software developers across Africa continued to break new grounds, according to statistics from Google’s Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021.

According to the report, Nigeria has remained a striking example of the symbiotic relationship between digital transformation and developer growth in Africa, adding that the developer ecosystem in Nigeria was thriving thanks to strong demand for developer talent, significant support from big tech, and startups raising the largest total amount of funding on the continent in 2021.

As countries like Nigeria continued to transform, they would unlock more opportunities for developers who, in turn, grow the economy, it stated.

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The report, which was launched on Monday during a webinar organised by Google, showed that despite challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa’s developer ecosystem was on the rise.

This was according to findings of a study conducted across 16 sub-Saharan African countries through fielded and analysed surveys as well as interviews with local experts.

According to the report, demand for African developers reached a record high in 2021, against the backdrop of a global economic crisis and the impact of the pandemic.

With increased use of the internet among small and medium businesses (SMBs) on the continent, which the report puts at over 22 per cent, the need for web development services also increased alongside higher demand for remote development work, indicating that 38 per cent of African developers work for at least one company based outside of the continent.

This was evidenced by the magnitude of growth in Nigeria’s professional developer population, which added an estimated 5,000 new professional developers to its pool in 2021, the report stated.

Analysing the report, Google’s Managing Director in Africa, Nitin Gajria, said: “While Africa’s tech innovation sector is making great strides, global tech companies, educators and governments can do more to ensure that the industry becomes a strategic economic pillar.

“At Google, we are intent on further igniting training and support for this community by bridging the existing developer skills gap and concentrating our efforts in up-skilling female developers who face pointed challenges.”

Google aims to train 100,000 developers across the continent by 2022.

“To date, the African continent is home to more than 150 active Google Developer Groups and 100 Developer Student Clubs in Africa. Combined, these groups reach over 200,000 community members in 40 of the 48 countries in the sub-Saharan African region,” Gajria said.

The Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021 is the second in a series of studies on the state of the continent’s Internet economy. The first, published in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), found that Africa’s Internet economy had the potential to reach 5.2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, contributing nearly $180 billion to Africa’s economy. The projected potential contribution could reach $712 billion by 2050.

“In order to reach this potential, we have to provide better access to high-quality, world-class skilling on mobile technologies platforms coupled with increasing connectivity in Africa. Our effort to increase connectivity is focused on infrastructure, devices, tools and product localisation,” Gajria added.

Other key observations as highlighted by the report included: Growth of Africa’s developer population across the African continent; increase in Venture Capitalists investments in African startups; Support for women’s startups in Africa, among others.

The report noted that despite a contracting economy, the pool of professional developers increased by 3.8 per cent to make up 0.4 per cent of the continent’s non-agricultural workforce. Salaries and compensation also rose, and more developers secured full-time jobs.

In the area of fund raiser, the report noted that African startups raised over $4 billion in 2021, which was 2.5 times more than in 2020, with Fintech startups making up over half of this funding. The shift to remote work also created more employment opportunities across time zones and continents for African developers while lifting the pay for senior talent. As a result, international companies are now recruiting African developers at record rates.

It however stated that without access to in-person education, or affordable, reliable internet access and at-home equipment, educators struggled to make gains last year. This could be seen in how the gender gap between men developers and women developers widened, as there are 2.5 per cent fewer women developers in the workforce than there were in 2020.

The report called on educators, tech companies and governments, to help developers succeed by improving internet access, education and business support.

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