AFRICA’S developer ecosystem reached a record high in 2021, despite the challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Google’s Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021, launched this week.
This study was conducted across 16 Sub-Saharan African countries through fielded and analysed surveys of software developers, as well as interviews with local experts.
The report noted an increased – 22 percent hike – in the use of the internet among small and medium businesses on the continent.
The need for web-development services also increased alongside the higher demand for remote development work. The report said 38 percent of African developers worked for at least one company based outside of the continent.
This was evidenced by the growth in Nigeria’s professional developer population, which added an estimated 5 000 new professional developers to its pool last year.
Google in Africa managing director, Nitin Gajria, said while Africa’s tech innovation sector was making great strides, global tech companies, educators and governments could do more to ensure that the industry became 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,” Gajria said.
Following a series of initiatives (including developer advocacy, start-up acceleration, training programmes, and global technical mentorship) that the company said it had implemented over the past 10 years, Google said it aimed to train 100 000 developers across the continent by 2022.
To date, Africa was home to more than 150 active Google developer groups with 100 developer student clubs, the report said. Combined, these groups reached more than 200 000 community members in 40 of the 48 countries in the Sub-Saharan African region.
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, found that Africa’s internet economy had the potential to reach 5.2 percent of gross domestic product by 2025, contributing nearly $180 billion (R2.7 trillion) to Africa’s economy.
The projected potential contribution could reach $712bn by 2050, Gajria said.
“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 said..
Other key observations included that Africa’s developer population was growing across the continent.
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.
Venture capital investment in African start-ups rebounded as the digital economy expanded. They raised more than $4bn in 2021, 2.5 times more than in 2020, with fintech start-ups 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.
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