The Secret to Solving the World’s Shortage of Technology Talent
About a month ago, Microsoft launched its Africa Development Centers in Kenya and Nigeria, with plans to recruit world-class African technology talent to develop innovative solutions for the 21st century.
Something fishy is going on…
About a month ago, Microsoft launched its Africa Development Centers in Kenya and Nigeria, with plans to recruit world-class African technology talent to develop innovative solutions for the 21st century. One of the ADC facilities will also house the Microsoft Garage which is helping scale innovation in the global tech ecosystem.
Two weeks later, Google announced it was investing $1billion in Africa with the launch of its first African Product Development Center in Nairobi. The Center is designed to help build innovative tools for markets in Africa as well as the rest of the world. It had previously launched a Center for Artificial Intelligence in Ghana. In late 2019, Jack Dorsey, the former CEO of Twitter, announced his plans to personally move to Ghana for 6 months to help launch the company’s African headquarters.
There will be others like this.
What is happening? Why are the world’s largest technology companies suddenly setting up shop in Africa? What do they see that others don’t?
- They see that the pandemic has rapidly accelerated digital transformation around the world, accelerating demand for their services and hence their need for technology talent. They’ve also realized that the usual suspects that provide this talent- China, India, and the US are all ageing and are increasingly expensive. Sometimes the talent just doesn’t exist.
- They see that Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with an average age of 19 (compared to 48 in Western Europe and Japan), that it will have a larger workforce than China or India by 2035, and that it will be 40% of the entire world’s population by the end of the century. So the only logical place that can solve this problem is Africa.
- They see that operating in Africa has never been easier–with significant increases in broadband, mobile connectivity, and an improving investment climate. For example, the continent attracted a record $5.2bn in VC investments in 2021 alone, and the most represented country in Y-Combinator’s most recent class was Nigeria.
That is why the global technology giants are setting up shop in Africa. Not because Africa will be the next wave of ‘demand’ for their technology, but because it will be the source of ‘supply’. African engineers will build the metaverse for the world. They will drive global cyber security. They will enable the continued migration to the cloud. They will design the UX and manage products for apps used by billions around the world. They will power the technology teams of the next 100 global unicorns.
What floor will your company get on?