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African developers: creating opportunities and building for the future

A map of Africa on a blue background with the title 'Africa Developer Ecosystem 2021" and a directive to 'read more'

Every day, African businesses harness ingenuity to empower their communities. African software developers are an engine for digital transformation in local economies across the continent, and there’s no one better to solve challenges than local developers, founders, and entrepreneurs. And as African startup funding reaches unprecedented levels (growing by over 2.5x in 2021 over the previous year), understanding Africa’s developer landscape is key to support the growth of these startups.

For the second year in a row, Google published the Africa Developer Ecosystem report to map Africa’s developer landscape. We expanded this edition of the report to include year-on-year growth analysis, tech ecosystem components and key growth factors. The research was conducted in 16 African markets (Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda) and the findings were extrapolated to the rest of the continent.

Here are the five key takeaways from our study:

1. Africa’s developer population is growing across the continent.

We found that COVID-19 has continued to shape both the tech community at large and the nuances of the developer experience. 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.

2. VC investment in African startups rebounded as the digital economy expanded.

As local businesses transitioned online across the continent, they boosted the need for web development and data engineering skills. African startups raised over $4bn in 2021, 2.5x 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 across time zones and continents for African developers while lifting the pay for senior talent. As a result, international companies are now recruiting African developers at record rates.

3. Learners, junior developers, as well as underrepresented groups including women, need more support.

These groups faced challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 men developers and women developers widened: there are 2.5% fewer women developers in the workforce than there were in 2020.

4. Educators, technology companies and governments are undertaking initiatives to strengthen the developer pipeline.

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 skill 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 both internet access and education.

5. Nigeria is a striking example of the symbiotic relationship between digital transformation and developer growth in Africa.

The developer ecosystem in Nigeria is thriving, thanks to strong demand for developer talent, significant support from big tech, and Nigerian startups raising the largest total amount of funding on the continent in 2021. Nigeria had the highest number of new developers of all countries surveyed, with 5,000 additional developers joining Nigeria's developer population in 2021. As countries like Nigeria continue to transform, they will unlock more opportunities for developers, who in turn, grow the economy.

To support the continued growth of Africa’s developers, technology companies, educators and governments are tackling local challenges through innovative partnerships and programs. Google is committed to supporting developers at each stage of their journey through regional developer training, community, and mentorship programs, including Google Developer Groups, Google Developer Student Clubs, Women Techmakers and Google Developer Experts.

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