How To Retain African Developers in 20231
As of 2021, Google released the Africa Developer Ecosystem report stating that there are nearly 716,000 professional developers across Africa with more than 50% concentrated in five key African markets. Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. South Africa has over 119,000 developers, Egypt has 87,000, Nigeria has 84,000, Kenya has 58,000 and Morocco has 47,000 developers. Looking at these data, you know that Africa has a limited supply of tech talent as compared with Europe and Asia.
In the Africa Developer Ecosystem report 2021, COVID 19 opened up remote work, and companies started to realize they could staff from anywhere and outsource on an ongoing basis. This led to global opportunities at the developer's end. International companies are now bidding for African developers thereby making retention of developers at local companies much more difficult due to the competition and fight with tech talent. According to the AU, around 70,000 Africans are lost to brain drain annually.
They emigrate to seek a higher quality of life or better education. It is likely that your company is the starting point for developers to leave your country. 33% of developers in emerging countries (African countries establishing the foundation for growth, small-to-moderate developer population which is Tunisia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Algeria ) strongly agree that they learned to code for international opportunities when they were asked by Google if they agree or disagree with the statement that stated: “ I learned to code for the opportunity to move to another country to work “. As a founder, you have to understand the value of developers across the market and more specifically, their value amongst companies comparable to your size & financial capabilities. Then you have to make sure your offering to your developer is competitive.
According to CNBC, “ Software developers don’t have a monopoly on ideas, but their skill set makes them a uniquely deep source of innovation, productivity and new economic connections. When deployed correctly, developers can be economic multipliers- coefficients that dramatically ratchet up the output of the teams and the companies of which they are part of ”
Retaining African developers can be very hard but these few points, might help in retaining your developers.
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Keep your developers updated on tech tools & Frameworks: Keep the tools and frameworks of your development team updated to the latest and greatest. It is better for developers to learn a new tool to solve a problem than for the team to hack their way around old tools that most times do not solve the problem which may end up wasting your developer's time & effort. Most tools are designed to solve a particular problem. Most developers agree with the statement “that being stuck on a team that uses old technologies is like being a carpenter using drills cranked by hand instead of a power drill”.
Offer Career Advancement / Stock Options: Stock options especially for your early developer would help in retaining them depending on what has been agreed on the term sheet. This might really work when your developer really believes in your startup. Maybe sharing the vision of your startup with them would go a long way. Offering career advancement is also a good way to recognize your developer's effort and time spent with your company. If your company size is small, vertical movement to a lead developer or engineering manager may be easier to offer as an incentive. This may work when your developer is someone that always wants new challenges.
Constant Communication = Constant Interruption: Developers like blocks of uninterrupted time so they can focus on their work and get in the zone. Nothing destroys that concentration faster than the constant pinging of a message every five seconds in slack. As a manager, you need to identify when certain communication tools just aren't just working. Sometimes switching to email or non-instantaneous project management software might work.
Let Them Solve Creative Problems: Google is an example for companies to create opportunities for developers to solve new problems relating to their company. In their 2004 IPO Letter, Sergey Brin and Larry Page explained this philosophy. They wrote, “ We encourage our employees, In addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner” Products like Gmail, Google News and Adsense emerged from this scheme. As a founder, you can organize hackathons or training days just for your developers to solve creative problems. By this, you can satisfy your developer’s desire of learning and improve their skills.
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