Demand for developers reaches record high

Africa’s pool of professional developers is sought after globally.

The Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021, compiled by Google, shows that the demand for African developers reached a record high in 2021, despite global economic challenges.

Markets with the highest number of professional developers are South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and Morocco. South Africa holds 17 percent of all professional developers on the continent and Nigeria and Egypt both have about 12 percent of African developers.

The report notes a 22 percent increase in the use of the internet among small and medium businesses (SMBs) on the continent, as well as the need for web development services, which also rose alongside higher demand for remote development work. The report estimates that 38 percent of African developers work for at least one company based outside of the continent.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), found that Africa’s Internet economy has the potential to reach 5.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, contributing nearly $180 billion to Africa’s economy.

Good gains, but room for improvement
According to the report, the shift to remote work also created more employment opportunities across time zones and foreign markets for African developers while lifting the pay for senior talent.

As a result, international companies are now recruiting African developers at record rates.

Despite a contracting economy, the pool of professional developers increased by 3.8 percent to make up 0.4 percent of the continent’s non-agricultural workforce. Salaries and compensation also rose, and more developers secured full-time jobs.

However, it notes that learners, junior developers, as well as underrepresented groups including women, need more support. This is reflected in how the gender gap between male and female developers widened; there are 2.5 percent fewer women developers in the workforce than there were in 2020.

It shares that governments have a vital role in strengthening the developer pipeline by investing in both internet access and education as global technology companies invest in digital skills-building across the continent.

Investing in growing skills
Nitin Gajria, managing director for Google in Africa says, “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 upskilling female developers who face pointed challenges.”

Google aims to train 100,000 developers across the continent by 2022 through a series of initiatives including developer advocacy, start-up acceleration, training programmes, and global technical mentorship which it has been running over the last 10 years.

“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,” says Nitin.