Africa’s software developers are an engine for digital transformation in local economies, managing director, Google Sub-Saharan Africa, Nitin Gajria, has said in a blog post.
Gajria relied on a Google-published report that showed that the continent’s startups raised $4billion in funds in 2021, a 2.5x times growth over the previous year, to make the statement. According to the report, the growth was sparked by Covid-19-driven virtual economies and increased investment in the digital sector.
These startup developers have harnessed ingenuity and created opportunities to empower their communities for growth, Garia said, noting that “there’s no one better to solve challenges than local developers, founders, and entrepreneurs.”
“We found that COVID-19 has continued to shape both the tech community at large and the nuances of the developer experience,” he said. “Despite a contracting economy, the pool of professional developers increased by 3.8% to make up 0.4% of the continent’s non-agricultural workforce. Salaries and compensation also rose, and more developers secured full-time jobs.”
He also mentioned that venture capital (VC) investment in African startups rebounded as the digital economy expanded.
“As local businesses transitioned online across the continent, they boosted the need for web development and data engineering skills. African startups raised over $4bn in 2021, 2.5x times more than in 2020, with fintech startups making up over half of this funding,” he said.
“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,” the study found.
Also, Garia acknowledged the contributions and initiatives undertaken by educators, technology companies and governments in strengthening the developer pipeline through improved internet access, education and business support.
“Bootcamps and certifications, run as part of formal and informal education, are working to bridge the vocational training gap between traditional education and employment moving forward. Global technology companies are investing in digital skill-building across the continent to improve job readiness and alleviate the tech talent bottleneck”, he stated.
He called on African governments to further invest in internet access and education while describing Nigeria as a “striking example of the symbiotic relationship between digital transformation and developer growth in Africa.”
He attributed the growth Nigeria has enjoyed to solid demand for developer talent, significant support from big tech, and Nigerian startups raising the largest total funding on the continent in 2021.
“Nigeria had the highest number of new developers of all countries surveyed, with 5,000 additional developers joining Nigeria’s developer population in 2021. As countries like Nigeria continue to transform, they will unlock more opportunities for developers, who in turn, grow the economy,” Garia added.
However, the study called for more support for learners, junior developers, and underrepresented groups, including women, whose participation have been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Without access to in-person education — or affordable, reliable internet access and at-home equipment — they [women] struggled to make gains last year. This can be seen in how the gender gap between men developers and women developers widened: there are 2.5% fewer women developers in the workforce than there were in 2020,” it noted.