Tech Communities in Sub Saharan Africa
Credit : Usable.ng
I once read Ayo Isaiah’s post on the best podcasts developers can listen to. And I found immense value in some of those recordings that it led to me searching for similar conversations happening around me, here in Nigeria and on the African continent.
Interesting conversations leading to social innovations and startups are being discussed- from the Meltwater in Accra, Ghana to Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria and Garage in Nairobi, Kenya. If you are like me, you may want to listen to this conversations and probably get involved.
Most of the communities and conversations I have researched are characterized either by technology the people involved are using or the drive to foster open source development. It is interesting that Google Developer Groups (GDG) are the most widespread tech group, since one can find them in every region across the continent. But a new movement that is building momentum and gaining tremendous following is forLoop with gatherings being held across the African coast.
The aim of this article is to guide you to communities in different fields - including design, development, devops, testing, business development and even jobs and gig opportunities - across Africa. If you are outside the continent and you want to get a feel of events and happenings, you may find this useful.
The design field is growing with numerous challenges being held to foster the field. Some of the popular design communities are
Usable is the longest running UI/UX designer’s meetup in Nigeria - started in 2012. It is a community of designers, developers and enthusiast who are interested in designing functional products. They meet every last Thursday of the month at CcHub in Lagos and Abuja with over 600+ members.
Credit : Usable.ng
The community is being marshaled by Udeze Kene, interface designer at Booking. You can follow their updates through website or twitter. They also manage an excellent blog, if you are interested in what designers earn in Nigeria, check out this article. To remain updated with design news, do check their mailing list.
2. Figma Africa
One of the tools that have taken the design world by storm is the collaborative and innovative Figma. Hotels.ng held remote internships last year and used it extensively. The community of 1000+ developers and designers who took part in that program have continued to create challenges for themselves using the tool. So much that a conference was held earlier this year with the CEO of Figma flying over to Nigeria.
Credit : Figma Africa Conference
This design group is targeted at individuals who are new to design or who are enthusiastic about using the tool. They host regular challenges to help members learn like Designing a Pitch Deck in Figma. The benevolent dictator behind this community is Namnso Ukpanah.
Newsletters | Developer Contents
Producing textual contents, either as blog posts or newsletters, are the easiest way to reach out to tech community at large.
This is the blog you look forward to reading about front-end developments. Ire Aderinokun consistently produces quality content for the blog. She used to release articles weekly but has decided to take time exploring technologies before writing.
If you are interested in video tutorials, then you’re in for a treat because the blog has a channel on Youtube with excellent break down of thoughts and live coding sessions. All the package you would normally pay for given for free.
This is the newsletter to read if you want to gain insights about the business of tech in across Africa. The media house produces various platforms for such discussions - including radar. They also curate the most comprehensive roundup of technology around Africa, for your inbox. Check out the newsletter.
Certaspace produces well researched technical articles for developers, executives and startups. One can find contents on web design and mobile app development there. And if you care for opinionated and intriguing insight on the startup scene in Nigeria, then their trivial section is for you.
Further, they host events and offer free hosting plans to encourage developers test their ideas and startups. If you require server space that can accommodate the traffic you expect to hit your website, you should definitely check out their Gold offering with unlimited data transfer and dedicated IP address.
Meeting people in your chosen field holds many value. Apart from sharing ideas and staying updated with technological trends, you can get access to job opportunities or gigs.
Some of the popular tech communities both offline and online are listed below in no particular order.
They are the pride and jewel developer community in Sub Saharan Africa with more than 3,000 brilliant minds sharing ideas. You can join that group here. One thing I love about the forum is the framework channels, where you can ask questions on challenges in any development stack of your choice, a mini stack overflow.
DC also curates outreach program like The Resource for startups and Ask Me Anything sessions with industry experts on selected topics.
The tech community of all communities - forloop. Developer outreach and training has taken new form and dimension since people started volunteering through this platform. It has branches in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.
Credit : Rotimi Okungbaye
It is reported by CNN that forloop is “... the largest gathering of software developers and enthusiasts across Africa.”
If you are interested in how software developers are building products for African consumers, or reasons behind their solutions, the kind challenges they face then you should check out the group’s channel on Youtube. Lots of insight are there.
3. GDG Lagos
Google Developer Groups are the biggest tech communities in Nigeria, and the the Lagos branch is the largest of them all. Last year, at the annual summit, over 600+ developers were in attendance - see report here. You should definitely attend their
Credit : Adewale Yusuf of Techpoint.ng
4. Andela Learning Community
Andela has been leading the way in developer education. By establishing partnerships with Google, Udacity, and Microsoft, they have taken charge of teaching the next generation of engineers, designers, and managers.
The community are trained in web or android development track. The case study by Chimdindu showed that many people became excellent developers by going through the courses and interacting with like minds.
Credit : Andela Nigeria
This is where you will find the largest collection developer/designer newbies, so if you are marketing a product, you should definitely check them out.
This article will not be complete without writing about CcHub. It is many things at once, a hub for techy to mingle, a work space, an innovation center and incubation platform. But it is most popular for being the de facto event place for tech events in Nigeria. Many of the meetups listed above converge here regularly - including usable, forloop. So if you are bored, this is place to meet people building the next generation products and startups.