The thriving developer ecosystem in Nigeria has an even brighter future. A lot has changed with the pandemic. We learned that remote working is extremely fruitful and that connectivity with international talents is profitable. In Africa, Nigeria is the leading country when it comes to software development talent. As a result, the high demand for African software developers is a given.
This high demand continues to feed into the software engineering talent of Africa. The developer population rose by 3.8% in 2021. Nigeria, specifically, led the continent in churning out talent in this field, adding an estimated 5,000 new professional developers to its talent pool.
Below, we will go over Google’s Africa Developer Ecosystem Report and provide insights, clarifications, and future estimations about the future of Africa’s top talents. This report includes data from 16 countries including Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Uganda.
Reasons for High Developer Population
There are three main reasons for this rise. Both global and local factors are to be counted. But in all of them, we see the realization of remote working that came with the pandemic.
1) Local Startups:
Local startups seem to hire over half of African developers. As a result, they raised over $4bn in 2021, 2.5 times more than in 2020. This shows that when given the opportunity, African tech talents don’t hold it back.
2) Local Businesses:
Aside from the startups, already-established companies also helped by increasing their use of the internet. This resulted in demand for developers who will help them grow their businesses on the online market. Web development and data analysis are in especially high demand as businesses go online for the first time.
3) Increased Global Demand:
As mentioned, increased demand for especially remote tech talent came with the pandemic. This created opportunities for developers in African countries. Developers working for international companies have an average of 1.4x more years of experience than those working for local businesses.
All in all, the Nigerian professional developer population had the largest magnitude of growth of any African country. With a +5K magnitude and overall 6% change, Nigeria made up the 12% total of African programmers. This is the same as Egypt and is only topped by South Africa which stands at 17%. From this, we see that Nigeria is an advancing country in this regard. It is sprinting as a fast follower with a large developer population. Furthermore, it has a strong startup ecosystem due to high investments and stable socio-economic conditions.
The Specific Case of Nigeria
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Google report, though made across the continent, could be counted as Nigeria’s own report. We see that %81 percent of venture capital in Africa went to the top 4 countries with the greatest number of software developers. And this includes Nigeria the 2nd-3rd place with Egypt. To understand the reasons behind this success, we must learn what influences the growth of a country’s developer population. Learning these will also give us an idea about the direction Nigeria is taking as a country in this digital timeline.
1) Macro-Economic Landscape:
This refers to the overall economic prosperity of the country; including urbanization and accessibility to electricity and key inputs.
2) Government Support
Governance matters a lot. Convenient legal regulations and support for the specific business landscape should be provided to ease the starting and continuing of any business.
3) Technological Ecosystem
This includes technology readiness, internet affordability, established developer communities and training, tech hubs, a good startup ecosystem, and funding. For the training, Nigeria has an online academy called AltSchool Africa with a carefully designed engineering program for specifically computer sciences. Adequate funding from entrepreneurs is also vital. Here, support from big tech companies matters. Below are a few examples both international and local:
- Microsoft: In order to transform education with digital and data capabilities, Microsoft is partnering with the Global Partnership for Education, Ministry of Education in African governments.
- Huawei: Launched 5G DigiSchools in South Africa in 2021 to improve basic educational and vocational skills at an early age.
- Orange Digital Centre: As part of its Engage2025 strategy, it plans to open an Orange Digital Centre in each of its African markets by 2025 as a local tech company.
- Google: In 2021, Google announced $3 million in non-dilutive funding for Black-founded startups in Africa through the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund Africa program.
Specific Numbers of Computer Sciences in Africa
80% of African developers are younger than 35. The average African software developer is 29 years old whereas the global average is 36 years old.
Professional Seniority Level:
As numbers stand, junior (0-3 years) developers make up 46% of the total talent pool. Mid-section (4-6 years) follows this by 32% and senior (7+ years) developers make up 22% of the population. According to PayScale:
- A junior Nigerian software engineer earns an average total compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of ₦3,005,121 (6728,13 USD);
- A mid-career Nigerian software engineer with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₦3,999,786 (8955,08 USD);
- A senior Nigerian software engineer with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₦5,750,000 (12873,61 USD).
According to the Google report, there is a pervasive perception that junior developers are often ill-prepared for professional software development. But with the focus on fostering senior talent in software developer training programs, junior developers lost access to major training opportunities. Even if there are “proofs” of such a pervasive perception, the lack of educational opportunities and inequality must be considered before reaching a conclusion.
Educators, tech companies, and governments can help developers succeed by improving internet access, education, business support, and Cloud tools. And there are huge efforts focused on making the required improvements. Hopefully, the software engineering talent in Africa in general, and this includes Nigeria of course, will achieve a lot more with the necessary resources.
As one of the advancing countries in Africa, Nigeria has a strong commitment to empowering tech businesses and upskilling youth.
Special Interests and Languages:
Many African developers learned to code for international work opportunities. Below are comparisons with the global market:
- African developers use PHP +13% more than the global average.
- African developers use HTML/CSS +6% more than the global average.
- African developers use Angular 48% more than the global average.
- African developers have strong programming experience in both web and mobile. One in two developers builds apps for Android.
- Of those who work in mobile app development, 47% focus on Android and 23% on iOS. Standard web compiles 47%, modern web 44%, and progressive web %30.
- The distinction between desktop/browser is as follows: 24% work mainly with Windows, 13% focus on browsers and only 7% are interested in MacOS specifically.
- Other areas: Cloud 15%, IOT 10%, and Blockchain 5%
The tech talent pool in Africa increased by 3.8% alongside the average software developer salaries. When it comes to age, African developers are younger than those in more mature markets. Among these developers, 38% work for at least one company based outside of the continent.
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