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Africa Blog


The Future is Africa: African Developers are Building for the World

Five years ago, 3 young South Africans, Matthew Elan Smith, Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube and Marnus van Heerden teamed up at an insurtech innovation challenge marking the beginning of their tech entrepreneurship journey together. After months of technical work and early-access testing with a few users, the team launched Pineapple: a peer to peer insurance platform that allowed registered members to cover the things they owned through a mobile app. Pineapple now has over 80,000 users and is working to establish partnerships with regional insurance companies to extend value to their member network.

This is a photo of South Africans, Matthew Elan Smith, Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube and Marnus van Heerden, founders of Pineapple

Pineapple’s founders are part of Africa’s digital talent that is shaping the future of the region’s technology landscape. They are also part of the 67 startups that have successfully graduated from the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa in the last 3 years. We established the Accelerator to provide growth-stage African startups access to the best of Google - our people, practices, processes and technology. These startups, from 10 countries across Africa, have had great impact on Africa’s economy creating 2,800 jobs, and attracting USD $72m in investment. We are continuing this commitment to Africa’s founders and recently announced the 6th class of Accelerator Africa which will kick off in June this year.

Over the past decade, Google has been dedicated to supporting Africa’s developer and startup ecosystem growth through a wide spectrum of programs. To help measure and share the size of Africa’s technology ecosystem, Google worked with Accenture in 2020 on research to highlight its strengths and opportunities, which established that there are close to 700,000 software developers in Africa.

Today we are launching the latest chapter in this journey with the release of our Google I/O 2021 talk “The Future is Africa: African Developers are Building for the World”, sharing insights from our years of work with developers across the African continent.

Google’s Developer Community Programs
Across the continent, developer communities are growing, creating an entry point for young developers looking to connect with their peers and upskill. Back in 2009, Faiz Bashir, a Nigerian software developer, established the first Google Technology User Group in Africa, thereby planting the seeds for what would grow to be the largest developer network across the continent. There are currently over 150 Google Developer Groups in 36 countries, and over 200 Google Developer Student Clubs in institutions of higher learning across Africa. These developer communities host regular events, workshops and conferences designed to share and learn together. Developers are able to apply their knowledge and connections to build great products and advance their skills and careers, as well as give back by helping others learn.

Google is also committed to building a developer ecosystem where women developers can thrive. Our Women Techmakers program is dedicated to supporting women in technology through community initiatives for them to connect and network, build visibility and access exclusive training resources. Ire Aderinokun joined the first International Women’s Day Summit in Lagos in 2016 where she learnt about the Google Developers Experts network. She went ahead and applied, and is now part of a global network of developers with deep expertise in Google’s technologies and who volunteer their time to share their knowledge with others.

This is a photo of Ire Aderinokun

Training for Africa’s Software Developers
The Google and IFC e-Conomy Africa 2020 report also established the need for upskilling and education opportunities for developers to boost their capabilities. In line with this, Google has an ongoing commitment to train 100,000 African developers on Android, Mobile Web and Cloud technologies. To date, Google’s Africa Developer Scholarship program has offered 77,000 training opportunities to developers from 54 African countries, as well as professional certification opportunities to the top 1,500 learners. Our content partner for the program, Pluralsight, provides a custom learning platform for the developers to not just learn, but also continuously assess and apply acquired skills as they progress through the training. Looking forward to how this developer training translates directly into employment opportunities, Google has been working with Andela to develop a job network which will provide developers who go through the program access to entry-level work opportunities. Applications are open until May 28 for the 2021 Google Africa Developer Scholarship class, with 40,000 training opportunities available for African developers.

We welcome you to view our I/O talk The Future is Africa: African Developers are Building for the World, and to dive deeper into the data behind our talk by reading the Google and IFC e-Conomy Africa 2020 report, and the Africa Technology Ecosystem 2020 research. Developers, we hope to see you at an upcoming meetup!