How Africa’s Tech Talent is Making an Impact Across the Continent

By Mike B. Ndimurukundo, Managing Director, Andela Rwanda

One of the privileges of working at Andela is having a front-row seat to all the changes taking place in the African tech ecosystem. In 2014, when Andela was founded, the African tech industry was vastly different from what it is today. Some of the challenges faced by aspiring Tech founders on the continent included: Infrastructure limitations (Internet & Electricity), limited access to funding and investment, talent shortage, regulatory & policy challenges, and market fragmentation among many others. In the past 10 years, so much growth has happened in these areas.  

In February 2024, I had the chance to attend the Africa Tech Summit (ATS) in Nairobi, Kenya. With more than 1,600+ tech experts in attendance from 800+ companies, the energy at the conference and across Nairobi was nothing short of amazing. ATS is an example of just how vibrant the African tech ecosystem has become, with a diverse range of participants comprising investors, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and policymakers, all creating a perfect platform for networking, partnerships, and learning. I was in attendance with three of my colleagues; Patricia Ngetich, Laura Kiama, and Maureen Kamau, as well as some of the technologists from the Andela community.  

Growing and managing a tech workforce across the continent

During ATS, I had the opportunity to participate on an amazing panel with representatives from Workpay, Delta40 and Raenest, hosted by the wonderful Michelle Hassan from BFA Global. As someone keenly invested in how the African tech industry can be leveraged to empower Africans, the panel was fascinating, discussing the future of work, and the opportunity that the African technology infrastructure offers African talent, allowing them to be ‘borderless’ and work remotely.

For anyone working closely with technologists, it’s essential to understand the critical, in-demand skills that remote employees need to thrive. From developing technical skills like Generative AI, to professional skills such as communication and problem-solving, having a growth mindset is essential for technologists, but also for the organisations who support them. The number of jobs requiring digital skills in Africa is expected to grow in the coming years and with an increase in jobs, there’s an increase in the demand for skilled technical talent. According to Statista, over 28 million jobs in Nigeria, and 17 million in Kenya, will require digital skills by 2030.

At Andela, we’re working to ensure the creation of a healthy tech talent pipeline in Africa. Since 2017, the Andela Learning Community (ALC) has offered training and career opportunities to over 150,000 engineers globally, including 20% of Africa’s engineering workforce. In Rwanda, the Andela Technical Leadership Program (ATLP), has now trained more than 500 developers in Rwanda with 70% of those employed in companies in Rwanda and abroad. While our focus at Andela has evolved to a Talent Marketplace, we still invest heavily in upskilling programs through the ALC and ATLP, which continue to empower young aspiring technologists with the required skills to excel in the workplace. According to the African Development Bank, Africa’s digital skills gap is estimated to be around 230 million people by 2030. Access to learning programs is essential for technologists, to help to bridge the digital skills gap and meet increased industry demand for developers and engineers. The more technologists who have access to training, the more the African tech industry can thrive on the global stage.  

The “brilliance” on display at ATS

ATS proved the perfect opportunity for the thousands of attendees at the conference to network, and attend the flurry of keynotes, panels, and masterclasses available. There were numerous side events taking place in Nairobi, maximising on ATS’ impact and the different people who were in town for the conference, including organised hikes in the Karura forest and city centre, plus several dinners and meetups. It is important to bring communities together to learn from each other and network, building long-lasting relationships.

For me, the highlight of the entire experience was connecting with some of our amazing talent community, community champions, and remote heroes (yes, I said heroes!) who made it to the conference. Connecting with these great people (featured in the photograph below) reminded me why I was drawn to Andela in the first place and why our mission is so critical. Hearing about their career journeys and most recent projects they are tackling is nothing short of amazing. From Chesvic getting his technical articles published on our blog and other tech publications, to Virginiah growing her career to become a team leader, our Andelans are truly accelerating their ambitions. Don’t get me wrong, I love working remotely, but nothing beats meeting incredibly intelligent, funny, and amazing colleagues in person once in a while!  

ATS was more than just an event; it was a celebration of African tech and a platform for collaboration and learning. It demonstrated the potential and impact of African tech solutions on the continent and beyond, as well as the talent and passion of the African tech community.  But it also highlighted the need for more support and investment in African solutions, especially for under-represented groups and sectors.

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