The demand for African computer software developers skyrocketed in 2021 due to the global economic crisis, and of course, Covid 19 also played a role, a new Google report reveals.
In the Africa Developer Ecosystem report, data was gathered from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.
In an interview with 1,600 software developers, Google discovered that 38% of African developers work for at least one company based outside of the continent.
“Across the continent, the pool of professional developers increased by 3.8% year on year. The total number of developers in Africa is now 716,000,” the survey discloses.
In what may seem like a confirmation to the findings by google, recent research, highlighting the dynamic and growing market for the continent’s technical talent over the last two years also showed that Four out of every ten African software developers now work for at least one company based outside of the continent, while five work for local start-ups.
A 22% rise in the use of the internet by small and medium-sized businesses in Africa, a record fundraising streak by local startups in 2021 and demand for remote tech workers in more mature markets are all factors attributed to the rising awareness of Africa’s software development talent.
“Increased global demand for remote tech talent, which was enhanced by the pandemic, created more remote employment opportunities for African developers,” said Google.
The report shows the number of African professional developers in the workforce defied economic contractions to increase by 3.8% or, 716,000 making up 0.4% of the continent’s non-agricultural workforce.
Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt lead the continent in software development talent
Nigeria led the continent in roiling out talent in this field, adding an estimated 5,000 new professional developers to its pool in 2021.
The country even has an online academy, Alt School Africa that is attracting programming students from countries around the world by offering an elaborate curriculum in computer programming.
By early February, the digital campus had already received more than 8,000 applications from 19 countries for its software engineering program which starts in April.
More African developers are getting full-time jobs due to both the rise in demand from local start-ups and the global demand for remote technical talent.
Morocco added 3,000 new professionals, while South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, and Tunisia added 2,000 each to their talent pool.
However, South Africa leads the continent in the total number of software developers, with 121,000 followed by Egypt and Nigeria tied, at 89,000 each.
Opportunities for Africa’s software developers are both local and global
African startups are responsible for hiring more than half of local developers, with foreign companies outside the continent hiring 38% of the remaining talent.
While Africa has a nascent developer ecosystem, these latest statistics suggest a climb for the continent’s top talent – those with strong programming skills in web and mobile apps development.
This competition seems to have had a positive effect on salaries and other forms of compensation.
“More African developers are getting full-time jobs due to both the rise in demand from local start-ups and the global demand for remote technical talent,” says Google.
Despite the increase in average developer pay in 2021 by 11%, junior developers saw a 9% pay decrease as a result of the oversupply of junior developers and perceived lower competence levels.
Women developers faced more challenges than men, given their more junior positions and the lack of childcare support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Women are 12% less likely to have written their first line of code before turning 18 than male developers,” the report says.
However, educators, tech companies, and governments, the report notes, can help developers succeed by improving internet access, education, business support and cloud tools.