Future of Tech Talents: Why Are African Software Developers in High Demand Globally

BY Douwe V · < 1 MIN READ

According to a recent Google report, the global economic crisis and Covid 19 both contributed to the surge in demand for African software developers in 2021. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia provided data for the Africa Developer Ecosystem report.

Google found that 38% of African software developers work for at least one company based outside of the continent after speaking with 1,600 software developers. In addition, the survey found that the number of professional developers increased by 3.8% yearly across the continent. According to the survey, there are currently 716,000 developers in Africa.

The increasing visibility of Africa’s software development talent is attributed to a 22% increase in internet use by small and medium-sized businesses in the continent, a record-breaking fundraising streak for local startups in 2021, and a demand for remote tech workers in more developed markets.

A Thriving Tech Ecosystem in Africa

Africa’s tech ecosystem has undergone a profound transformation, creating a fertile ground for innovation and growth. Tech hubs and innovation centers have sprung up in various African countries, acting as hubs of creativity and collaboration. Countries like Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Rwanda have taken the lead in establishing vibrant tech ecosystems. These hubs provide essential support, mentorship, and access to resources for aspiring entrepreneurs and startups, helping them thrive.

One striking indicator of Africa’s tech progress is the surge in internet penetration. With the advent of affordable smartphones and increased internet accessibility, internet users on the continent have soared, paving the way for the rapid adoption of digital technologies. This has led to significant advancements in areas like FinTech, AgriTech, HealthTech, and EdTech.

Pioneering African Startups

The rise of African startups is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The continent has witnessed a remarkable influx of innovative entrepreneurs who have challenged conventional norms and leveraged technology to solve local problems. These startups have gained international recognition, attracting substantial investments and transforming traditional industries.

One sector that stands out is FinTech. African startups have revolutionized financial services, providing innovative solutions for the underbanked and unbanked populations. Startups like Flutterwave, Paystack (acquired by Stripe), and Interswitch have become trailblazers in the FinTech space, raising millions in funding and expanding their operations across multiple countries.

Moreover, Africa’s agricultural potential has been harnessed through AgriTech startups, connecting farmers with markets, improving supply chain efficiency, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Notable examples include Twiga Foods and Farmcrowdy, which have facilitated economic growth in rural areas.

In the health sector, African startups have made significant strides in providing access to quality healthcare through telemedicine, health information systems, and mobile health platforms. Companies like mPharma and 54gene have demonstrated how technology can revolutionize healthcare delivery across the continent.

Top Software Development Talent Countries in Africa – Nigeria, South Africa, And Egypt

Nigeria, which added an estimated 5,000 new professional developers to its pool in 2021, led the continent in producing talent in this industry. While South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, and Tunisia each added 2,000 new professionals to their talent pools, Morocco added 3,000 new professionals. However, with 121,000, South Africa has the most software developers on the continent, followed by a tie between Egypt and Nigeria at 89,000.

A report claims that nations like Kenya and Nigeria have strongly committed to upskilling young people and empowering tech businesses. It is clear that as developing nations like Nigeria continue to transform the tech industry, more opportunities will become available for developers, which will boost the economy.

Global Opportunities For African Software Developers

A report claims that in 2021, African startups raised over $4 billion, with fintech start-ups accounting for more than half of the funding. In addition, more than half of the local developers are employed by African startups, and foreign businesses employ 38% outside of the continent.

This is because startups, especially in developing markets, are frequently the first companies willing to hire junior developers, providing essential on-the-job training. Although the continent’s developer ecosystem is still in its infancy, these most recent statistics point to a rise in top programmers specializing in creating web and mobile apps. Let’s explore some opportunities for African developers;

  1. Rising Tech Ecosystem: Despite the challenges, Africa’s tech ecosystem is rapidly expanding. Governments, private sector entities, and international organizations increasingly recognize the importance of nurturing the continent’s tech talents. Initiatives like tech hubs, incubators, and accelerators are cropping up across Africa, providing valuable resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities to African developers.
  2. Entrepreneurship and Innovation: African developers are showing a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, launching startups catering to local needs while addressing global challenges. Their solutions often focus on healthcare, agriculture, finance, and education, which profoundly impact people’s lives. As these startups grow and scale, they have the potential to drive significant economic growth and job creation.
  3. Fostering Collaboration and Inclusion: African developers increasingly collaborate with their counterparts worldwide. These collaborations break down barriers, foster knowledge exchange, and contribute to a more inclusive global tech community.
  4. Leaping into Emerging Technologies: Africa has a unique opportunity to leapfrog into emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and renewable energy. By adopting these technologies early, African developers can play a critical role in shaping their development and application on a global scale.

Average For African Software Developers

According to the Africa Developer Ecosystem report, the average age of African developers is 29, with up to three years of experience than their counterparts. In fact, 80% of African developers are also under age of 35, which is much younger than the global average age of 36. This has demonstrated that African software developers have strong programming skills for both the web and mobile platforms.

However, the competition has boosted salaries and other forms of compensation. In addition, according to Google, the increase in demand from regional startups and the global market for remote technical talent contribute to more African developers finding full-time employment. 

The oversupply of junior developers and perceived lower competence levels led to a 9% pay decrease for junior developers in 2021, despite an 11% increase in the average developer salary. 

The Future of African Software Developers

The future of tech talents is undoubtedly bright, and African software developers are playing a pivotal role in shaping it. Their technical prowess, adaptability, cost-effectiveness, and commitment to social impact have made them highly sought after by global tech companies. Also, the covid-19 pandemic’s aftermath forced most organizations to conduct business remotely. 

Many African developers now have more opportunities thanks to the high demand for remote work, as many of them were hired by global companies. As the tech industry continues to evolve, the demand for African developers is expected to increase further, fostering a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape that capitalizes on the collective genius of talents from all corners of the world. 

Embracing and supporting African tech talent will benefit businesses and contribute to a more equitable and innovative global tech ecosystem.