The Key to Africa Tech Growth

April 16, 2024
Renier Kriel
Renier Kriel

Learning from India, here's what Africa needs to grow

For a long time, most of the English-speaking worlds software developers were based in the USA. But this year it's estimated that India will overtake the US with their developer numbers set to surpass 5.2 million.

That means that almost 1 out of 6 developers worldwide is of Indian origin. Not surprising, considering almost 1/6th of the world lives in India (1.4b out of 8b).

And yet Africa, with a similar sized population only has an estimated 690 000 software developers.

And its showing in startups

In 2022, India raised more money and had more unicorns than Africa by a long shot.

Not even South African-born Elon Musk taking up 3 CEO roles (Tesla, Twitter and SpaceX) could compete with the 26 CEOs of Indian origin of companies on the S&P500. Amongst these, are the CEOs of Microsoft and Alphabet (Google). It really is impressive how tech talent in India has grown to play a major role in the global tech scene.

How did India do it?

Only 20 years ago, the GPD per capita in India was a mere $500. The majority of Indians grew up in poverty, with many non-functioning schools, not dissimilar to the realities of Africa.

But with the schools that did function, there was a massive shift towards STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. Developing a hard work ethic and a passion for STEM, many Indians saw STEM careers as a path out of poverty and for many, it's working.

What can Africa learn from this?

Investment in the teaching of STEM subjects is key to accelerating Africas growth, this is not new information.

So whats holding Africa back?

For one, it's not always practical to move a high-quality, passionate, teacher to teach in a faraway or rural location. Whats more, teaching coding well in a practical manner, is well, a relatively new subject matter. We need more qualified, passionate and equipped teachers that can build a generation of STEM subject lovers.

And thats what a local startup, Mindjoy, is working on. Currently, in Beta mode, Mindjoy has worked with more than 50 schools helping more than 3000 students not only learn how to code but develop a love for it. Whilst 3000 is a long way from the required 5 million to catch up to the likes of India, it is exciting to see startups tackling this important problem. Once they nail the scale, we are excited to see what its going to do for the continent. We are watching this space.

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