Google, in its latest “Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021”, has revealed that Africa’s tech developer ecosystem is on the rise. This is according to the findings of a study conducted across 16 Sub-Saharan African countries through fielded and analysed surveys of software developers and interviews with local experts.
According to the report, demand for African developers reached a record high in 2021 against the backdrop of a global economic crisis and the impact of the pandemic. With increased (+22%) use of the internet among small and medium businesses (SMBs) on the continent, the need for web development services also increased alongside higher demand for remote development work (38% of African developers work for at least one company based outside of the continent). This is evidenced by the magnitude of growth in Nigeria’s professional developer population which added an estimated 5,000 new professional developers to its pool in 2021.
“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 (IFC), found that Africa’s Internet economy has the potential to reach 5.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, contributing nearly $180 billion to Africa’s economy. The projected potential contribution could reach $712 billion by 2050.
Other key observations include:
Despite a contracting economy, the pool of professional developers increased by 3.8% to make up 0.4% of the continent’s non-agricultural workforce. Salaries and compensation also rose, and more developers secured full-time jobs.
African startups raised over $4 billion in 2021, 2.5 times more than in 2020, with fintech startups making up over half of this funding. The shift to remote work also created more employment opportunities for African developers across time zones and continents while lifting the pay for senior talent. As a result, international companies are now recruiting African developers at record rates.
Without access to in-person education — or affordable, reliable internet access and at-home equipment — they struggled to make gains last year. This can be seen in how the gender gap between male developers and female developers widened: there are 2.5% fewer women developers in the workforce than in 2020.
Educators, tech companies and governments can help developers succeed by improving internet access, education and business support. Bootcamps and certifications, run as part of formal and informal education, are working to bridge the vocational training gap between traditional education and employment moving forward. Global technology companies are investing in digital skills-building across the continent to improve job readiness and alleviate the tech talent bottleneck. Governments can also play a vital role in strengthening the developer pipeline by investing in internet access and education.
The developer ecosystem in Nigeria is thriving thanks to strong demand for developer talent, significant support from big tech, and startups raising the largest total amount of funding on the continent in 2021. As countries like Nigeria continue to transform, they will unlock more opportunities for developers who, in turn, grow the economy.