Technology is an enabler for economies all over the world especially for developing economies. According to the world economic forum, the benefits of technology are numerous and they include:
- Direct job creation
IT has created new industries like Digital Marketing, Data Sciences, Mobile Money ecosystems like agents etc. In 2013, the global tech market grew by 8%, creating jobs, salaries and a widening range of services and products.
- Emergence of new services and industries and Workforce transformation
The Internet and Mobile money have created new types of products and transactions along with easier ways of reaching customers and lowering the cost of services.
- Contribution to GDP growth
Statistics show that a 10% increase in broadband penetration is associated with a 1.4% increase in GDP growth in emerging markets, these numbers also reflect the use of Mobile money and GDP growth in countries where it has taken off.
- If in fact that Technology is an enabler for economies why are our educational systems failing the very graduates who will usher Africa into the technology age?
I have interviewed over 100 developers over the last couple years, and honestly, finding a good developer takes 4-6 months (This is horrible for developing any sort of a strong technology ecosystem). It is even worse when you are looking to hire entry level developers because most of the computer science graduates our universities are churning out are short of the industry standards employers seek. If we (as a nation) care about using technology to grow our economy, then we must be more concerned about educating the workforce (at the entry level especially) to progress the technology agenda. Over time it’s much more effective to hire an entry level mathematics graduate or graduates from courses that stress on problem-solving and critical thinking and then have them develop the programming skills in-company.
This article is written to give students or current graduates a road map to help themselves – from my perspective, the educational institutions have woefully failed them, here is my advice to technology graduates all over Africa;
The degree and internships does not mean much to an employer, you are not competing only against the classmates you graduated with, you are competing against the 14 year-old-boy in California who is building software that triggers video recording in his bedroom when the door is open because he is sick and tired of his little brother borrowing all his stuff. Yes, he has better access and opportunities than you because your educational system has failed you but the alternative to not competing will only be widening the skills divide. Silicon valleys are importing skills from all over hence geography is no longer a stumbling block.
Donate whatever little skills you have because it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at anything. The 10,000 hours’ rule is a concept popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book outliers stating that the key to achieving world class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours.
Is there an uncle, parent, relative you can work on an IT-related project for, or is there a problem you have that you want to solve then donate your skills to solving it if you don’t have any. I propose you sign up to become a contributor to an open source project.
The term “open source” refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible. It will provide you exposure to what good quality work is, in your chosen sphere.
Dear graduate, give yourself a chance to succeed and be the very best in your career.
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