Technology innovation and expansion is in need of constant development by an adequate base of human capital. Major tech companies such as Facebook realize that society demands greater technological advancement, which can only come from human effort. For this reason, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, co-founded by Facebook’s CEO, started investing in Africa a few years ago.
The Continent has been slow to join the IT arms race, but that is starting to change as investors realize the potential of Africa’s vast pool of human capital. The demographics of the Continent make it clear that this is the world’s youngest region, and this could transform Africa into a massive source of IT talent.
Andela, a Kenyan tech firm based in Nairobi with regional offices in Kampala and Lagos, was one of the first venture capital efforts made by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in the region. After an initial investment round worth $24 million, a pan-African VC group has committed $40 million more to Andela, a company that specializes in recruiting the best that Africa has to offer in terms of tech talent. Andela is very proactive in its approach to securing talent; this is a company that is not afraid to invest in training at the same time it recruits individuals who can become global technology leaders at companies such as IBM and Microsoft, which have already partnered with the African firm.
Andela made headlines in 2016 as tech journalists described it as a company that is willing to pay students to learn computer science. The current focus is on software development, but there is also an intention to teach leadership skills. There is no shortage of potential talent, as previously mentioned, there are many young people in Africa, and they are eager to learn.
What sets Andela apart from other African companies that have been venturing into the tech world is that they are not simply teaching basic IT skills; they are serious about their commitment to prepare tech professionals. Unlike other companies that are mostly interested in serving as incubators for “unicorn” tech startups that will one day be worth millions, Andela realizes that youth unemployment is a time bomb that must be defused for the sake of creating a better future for Africa.
In South Africa, 50 percent of young people are either out of work or underemployed. In the megacity of Lagos, more than 10 million young people are looking for meaningful work, and 20 percent of them have university degrees. Andela believes that this substantial talent pool is a goldmine, and it is worth exploring the development opportunities that can be extracted.