Soaring Demand for Tech Talent in Africa

Image of a lone acacia tree in the African savannah.
Most people have misconceptions about Africa, while many nations of the continent have a future as tech capitals.

Although Africa is popular for its abundance of natural resources, the continent is also beginning to gain other types of resources. The demand for tech talent in Africa is soaring, and new talent is emerging to meet this demand. 

Many nations on the continent have a substantial youth population, allowing for a more adaptable market to the new economic situations. With new opportunities and interest from abroad, some African nations may become the technological capitals of the future.

Several metrics insinuate the bright future for tech-focused Africans:

  • 60% of the continent is younger than 25
  • 40% of the continent is younger than 15
  • 500% growth in 20 years in Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy
  • Better education is opening international interest
  • Most Africans are multilingual

Global interconnectivity will benefit tech talent in youthful African economies sooner rather than later.

Even with recent developments, average wages in many nations across sub-Saharan Africa did not grow at the same rate. As a result, cost of living remained low and African specialists became more competitive in the global market.

Interconnectivity and Domestic Growth

The emerging African tech industry has two main sources of growth. Primarily, widespread internet use gave millions of people the opportunity to work for foreign companies without leaving their country. 

African nations, however, are making significant strides toward domestic growth. Most countries have had an annual growth of around 6% for years now, much of which was due to the booming tech industry.

Many individuals, including former African expats and immigrants from Europe and the Americas, are also opting to move to Africa because of its lower living cost. 

Unlike natural resources, gains made by these entrepreneurs are diffused into the economy. Because the funds stay inside the country, they benefit the local community, allowing even more people to participate in growth and opportunities.

Image of two people looking at code on a laptop in Lagos, Nigeria.
Much of the tech growth is pioneered by local talent looking for new opportunities.

Opportunities Are Sprouting Everywhere

According to a report by the African Development Bank Group, fewer than 3 million jobs were created on the continent in 2015. Conversely, the report showed over 15 million new people entered the workforce. This disparity was mainly due to lack of direct investments in education of new specialists.

Even then, opportunities opening from abroad were presumably helping the continent’s growing workforce to maintain adequate employment rates. Today, when many companies are moving to work remotely, tech talent across the continent have new opportunities. 

Those in Anglophone countries have the largest number of opportunities, mainly because U.S. companies are seeking talent there. Many Africans use their multilingualism as an advantage, with their fluency in English, Spanish, and even Arabic, helping them fit into other countries’ demanding markets.

Some countries, like Kenya and Ghana, are making direct efforts to help the tech industry, directly investing in the sector. Prominent startups could secure land, excellent taxation benefits, and subsidies for employing local talent.

Emerging Talent for Cybersecurity

Although it seems counter-intuitive, institutional corruption in Africa may have benefited tech specialists.

Primarily, the specialists educated in Africa are personally and professionally aware of most types of cyberattacks, scams, and other malicious internet presence. As legislation is slow to take action against cybercrime, African populations must be more vigilant. 

This insight could be invaluable for global companies, as even junior-level tech talent have know-how and real-world experience with cyberthreats. If the emerging talent is further nurtured, they could become serious cybersecurity powerhouses of the future.

Image of a person using a measuring tape in manufacturing.
Aside from software jobs, many African tech jobs are focused on manufacturing.

Options for Tech in Manufacturing

East African countries benefit from their proximity to the Middle East, Europe, and India, emerging as a tech hub for remote workers and investors. In western Africa, however, the growing conflict between the U.S. and China is proving to be beneficial. 

Between 2001 and 2018, China made $41Bn in direct investments in African countries and provided $126Bn in loans. Approximately 63% of those investments went to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa, showing the Asian superpower’s interest in the region.

The reason for those investments is not purely economic or altruistic. In fact, the current African manufacturing potential cannot affect Chinese interests, but future manufacturing may be very capable of parrying Asian production. 

Countries like Angola, which benefited from their abundant oil deposits and extraction, are already investing in manufacturing to expand their existing economic base. For now, though, this production mostly aims to fulfill domestic needs, as Angola still imports more than three-quarters of required consumer goods.

Kenya on the Bulwark of the Effort

According to the 2021 Google Africa Developer Ecosystem report, more than a third of all African developers come from abroad, and hundreds of thousands of people in places like Kenya work for companies outside the country.

In his manifesto, Kenyan president William Ruto recognizes the detrimental effects of this situation. Ruto says the current situation prevents businesses from thriving and reinforces the problematic brain drain in Kenya. 

Ruto plans for Kenya to invest $400 million in government schemes to promote software development and keep local talent in the country. This investment may also make Kenya a technological hub for the region, inviting specialists from rural areas, neighboring countries, and further. 

Kenya also plans to lay down 100,000 kilometers of internet fiber across the country, allowing rural communities to reap the benefits of interconnectivity and work in the global tech market.

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