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COVID-19 won’t slow down Africa’s software development market

A prevailing global shortage will ensure African software developers remain in demand, irrespective of the impact of COVID-19 says Ernesto Spruyt, founder of tech recruitment firm Tunga.

In an overview of recent research, Spruyt said: “It might shrink a bit due to the world economy experiencing trouble, but even in that scenario, IT will be one of the least hit sectors. After all, digitalising goes on and on, with no end in sight for now. As a result, I think there will be plenty of demand. The question is, to what extent will Africa be able to claim a share of the pie?”

Tunga’s research identifies the top 17 African countries in the provision of software developers and describes the continent as “a relatively undiscovered and fast growing breeding ground for software developers.”

The countries are further divided into four groups: the Frontrunners (Mauritius, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia and Kenya); the Awakening Giants (Nigeria and Egypt); the Promising Outsiders (Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, Rwanda, Cameroon); and the Late Bloomers (Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Algeria).

“Looking at the supply side, we think that the outlook differs per country. That's why we've identified the four different groups in the articles,” said Spruyt.

According to the research these countries represent more than 90% of the entire African IT talent pool of developers.

“I think the Awakening Giants will realise impressive growth in the coming years. The Frontrunners will probably grow a bit, but at more moderate rates. The Late-bloomers will only grow if something significant changes in those countries policies. And as far as the Promising Outsiders go, this will differ per country, and to what extent they will be able to capitalise on the opportunity they have.”

The supply of market-ready developers available from Africa remains a challenge.

Spruyt points out that educating coders is one thing, but having them gain the required experience to be able to work in high performing international teams is quite another.

“These things take time. But inevitably it will happen, I'm sure,” he said. “So my outlook is that in the shorter run there will be more competition for talent on the African continent. In the longer run, the continent will breed a significant pool of software professionals and the demand for them will grow accordingly.”

According to Tunga: Absolute number of developers per African country:

There are an estimated 690,000 professional software programmers in Africa. More than half of these are from South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria. The top-17 software development countries in Africa consists of:

1.South Africa – 133,195

2.Egypt – 125,270

3.Nigeria – 114,536

4.Kenya – 58,866

5.Morocco – 49,818

6.Tunisia – 45,247

7.Ghana – 20,551

8.Algeria – 20,530

9.Uganda – 13,113

10.Ethiopia – 8,316

11.Senegal – 8,113

12.Tanzania – 8,065

13.Cameroon – 7,748

14.Mauritius – 6,879

15.Zimbabwe – 6,588

16.Rwanda – 6,412

17.Ivory Coast – 5,165

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