Africa is a young, innovative and growing continent. Mobile and Internet penetration is growing quickly, and the cost of data is falling.
This makes Africa a greenfield market and the number of tech startups have been flourishing across the continent.
Africa has also seen a growth in the past decades in the number of students enrolled in tertiary education and the establishment of new universities such as Ashesi University and the African Leadership University.
However, these universities produce fewer engineers, computer scientists and software engineers than in other regions of the world such as Europe, the US or China. This affects the ability of startups to hire skilled team members, scale-up and build amazing products and businesses worth backing.
In the past few years, numerous coding schools such as Andela, Moringa School and our own Alida School have been established to train software engineers however it’s still challenging for startups in Africa to attract and retain technical talent due to the fact that these schools were founded just a few years ago and there’s a limited pool of experienced professionals, especially on the product side and the training available is limited.
These schools are solving the following pain points:
- Limited access to quality education
- High dropout rates
- Poorly directed public investments
These schools are:
- Bringing formerly unavailable forms of education and content to the whole of society
- Democratising knowledge and empowering underprivileged populations
- Reducing the global carbon footprint through online education
As a young tech ecosystem, African developers often have limited experience and there’s a lack of senior professionals to mentor and coach the new and upcoming professionals as we see in more mature tech ecosystems such as in the US or the UK.
Mentorship improves the odds of winning and reduces the pain of the learning process.
In order for Africa to become a globally competitive player, it must equip students with relevant technical skills that match our modern and evolving world.
Startup recruitment is challenging everywhere. Startups often cannot compete against big tech or big corporations but it’s even more accentuated in Africa to recruit top talent because exits and liquidity events are few at the moment and stock options which is a big incentive for early startup employees aren’t therefore very attractive.
Startups access talent and recruit high performing individuals through their extensive and strong networks. Local job boards are being developed across Africa to make the process of hiring local talent more feasible.
The key differentiation points to attract and retain the best talent is the employee experience especially a strong team culture and a focus on upskilling employees.
A lack of consideration for hiring and creating an internal culture may affect a startup’s growth and ability to retain talents.
Government and private stakeholders need to join forces and come up with attractive proposals and opportunities to retain African talent and stop the African brain drain.
Africa’s new oil this century, its most valuable resource, will be its workforce.