7 Reasons Your Business Needs Remote African Software Engineers in 2022

Reasons Your Business Needs Remote African Software Engineers

Why Outsource IT To Africa?

The global market has become increasingly competitive for tech talent. Startups and SMEs seeking to simplify their structure, improve customer service, and develop products faster urgently need to outsource, such as software engineers. Companies must also strategically source tech talent and solutions in a cost-effective manner. Traditional outsourcing hubs like India, the Philippines, and countries in Central and Eastern Europe have become saturated and costly, according to Empower Africa. A search for the next hub for IT tech talent has emerged in the past few years, as the war for talent has hit a fever pitch. 

Global organizations must shift their focus to the next untapped reservoir of tech-savvy digital professionals: Africa. Africa’s high population of educated, but unemployed or underemployed make it a powerhouse of eager and able tech talent waiting to be unleashed. A key opportunity hides amidst statistics like the fact that 450 million people will join the working age population, but only 100 million jobs will be available for them by 2035 (The World Bank’s The Africa Competitiveness Report). Africa has no shortage of tech talent; rather a supply/ demand imbalance.

With so many elements unique to the African tech sector landscape, both talent and tech companies outside of the continent stand to greatly benefit. 

1. No Shortage of Skilled Software Engineers

The growing economy and aging population outside of Africa has made tech labor more expensive and less attractive to companies looking for remote, qualified and affordable staff. With huge young populations and many educated people ready for remote work, Africa is becoming an increasingly viable option. The average age in Africa is 19.7 years, making it a continent that easily identifies with the digital revolution, when compared to other continents.

Among that youthful population are thousands of university graduates every year including 700,000 software engineers, according to a report from Google and IFC, e-Conomy Africa 2020. Five countries dominate the pipeline of tech talent, according to that same report. These include Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. That same report projected a population size of 2.5 billion by 2050, running the scalability of software engineers poised for remote work off the charts.
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2. Robust Multilingual Abilities and Global Communication Skills

Another asset for companies and clients outsourcing to Africa is the population’s diverse language skills. English remains the global business language, but African talents are capable of conducting business in French, Arabic, and Portuguese, too. In countries like Kenya and Nigeria, English is the official country language taught in schools. For companies based outside of the continent, but doing business in Africa, there’s the added competitive advantage of leveraging tech talent that can speak languages to service millions, such as English and Swahili (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda), or French and Wolof (Senegal, Mauritania, Mali).

In Northern Africa, tech talent, including software engineers, can speak Arabic to converse with companies in the Middle East. With countries like Morocco and Egypt being geographically close to Europe, potential travel between the two continents makes them even more attractive as prospective outsourcing partners.  

3. A Thriving Tech Ecosystem

Africa’s recent abundance of unicorns is evidence of its maturing tech ecosystem, and the potential of its tech talent. These include Andela’s $200 million Series E raise. More than $4.3 billion was raised by African startups in 2021, a 150% year-on-year increase, according to data from Africa: The Big Deal. This venture capital poured into solutions as diverse as fintech, healthtech, and agritech. For companies outside of Africa looking to leverage the skills of the continent’s capable software engineers, the competition is heating up within Africa itself.

Ventureburn rounded up 10 “must-attend” tech conferences on the continent, including Africa Tech Summit (Nairobi, Kenya), Africa Tech Week (Cape Town, South Africa), and West Africa Com (Dakar, Senegal). But the breadth of tech summits and communities is much more robust. Hundreds of startup hubs and communities thrive in major cities across the continent, such as Metta and iHub in Kenya, Co-Creation Hub in Nigeria, MEST Africa in Ghana, and pan-African AfriLabs. 

4. High Quality at Affordable Rates

The availability of labor, coupled with the region’s competitive rates, makes Africa an ideal destination that can supply human capital to companies that need it. With the cost of living multiple-times lower in major markets like Lagos, Nigeria over Silicon Valley, organizations can better leverage their budgets for skilled software engineers and other tech talent. This can come at up to 30% cost savings or more, for the same or higher quality work. 

Thanks to the explosion of mobile money platforms like Safaricom’s M-PESA, and remittances startups like Taptapsend, businesses also have multiple avenues they can leverage to make cross-border payments in local currencies with ease. And with the right partner or platform like Gebeya, businesses don’t have to handle the administrative logistics of contracting or payments at all.  

5. Reasonable Competition for African Software Developers

Due to the nascent nature of businesses outside of the African continent leveraging tech talent on it, early adopters can get the most experienced talent before competitors enter and offer more attractive packages. Almost half of Africa’s university graduates struggle to find jobs that utilize their education. The large population of young, working-age people, coupled with the increasing lack of employment within the continent, creates a pool of potential employees for companies looking to outsource. 

With companies like Andela shifting their focus from an Africa-first model to global expansion—the company’s model shifted from creating a pipeline of trained African software engineers and placing them at jobs training to a focus on senior engineers anywhere in the world—supply has eclipsed local demand in markets like Lagos, Nigeria. 

6. Time Synchronicity and Accessibility

The 2020 Google/ IFC report found that nearly half of the continent’s population will live in cities by 2025 (only three years away), making digital-native, tech-savvy African talent more accessible than ever. And, with African tech talent dispersed across six time zones, countries like Senegal and France and South Africa and the United Kingdom can easily collaborate with little time or language difference.

7. Growing Infrastructure and Internet Penetration

The rise of Somalia, Sudan, Algeria and Tanzania in the internet economy has been majorly boosted by extremely affordable rates, where 1GB of mobile data costs less than $0.80 USD, a rate that makes Africa more attractive than the high rates in the US, China, and Europe.

The growing IT infrastructure in the region also makes it a great offshore outsourcing destination. Many countries like Madagascar and Kenya enjoy fast internet speeds, and fast-growing telecom networks and increased access to technology has created an enabling environment for digital and remote work. 

Concluding Thoughts on the Value of Leveraging African Software Engineers

Tech leaders wishing to future-proof their businesses seek innovative avenues to minimize their projected expenses, while planning for expansion. Savvy entrepreneurs and CFOs will recognize the potential cost-savings, and efficient operations that tech talent like software engineers in Africa can offer. 

If you believe Africa is the future of tech talent, you are already too late. The revolution has already begun.

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