How tech communities are changing the narrative across Sub Saharan Africa
I once read Ayo Isaiah’s post on the best podcasts developers can listen to. And I found such immense value in some of those podcasts that it led me to start searching for similar conversations happening around Nigeria and the African continent.
Interesting discussions leading to social innovations and startups are happening. From the Melt water in Accra, Ghana, to Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi Garage, Kenya. If you are like me, you may want to listen to these conversations and get involved.
Most of the communities and conversations I have researched are characterized either by the technology that 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. You can find them in every region across the African continent. But a new movement that is building momentum and gaining a tremendous following is forLoop, with gatherings being held across the Africa.
The aim of this article is to guide you to communities in different fields, including design, development, DevOps, testing, business development, and even jobs opportunities . If you are outside the continent and you want to get a feel for events and happenings, you may find this useful.
The design field is growing, with many challenges encouraging and fostering the field.
Some of the popular design communities are:
Usable is the longest running UI/UX designer’s meetup in Nigeria. It started in 2012 as a community of designers, developers, and enthusiasts who are interested in designing functional products.
They meet every last Thursday of the month at CcHub in Lagos and Abuja with 600+ members.
The community is being marshaled by Udeze Kene, interface designer at Booking. You can follow their updates through their official website or twitter. They also manage an excellent blog, and if you are interested in what designers earn in Nigeria, check out this article. To remain updated with design news, do check out their mailing list.
2. Figma Africa
One of the tools that has taken the design world by storm is the collaborative and innovative Figma. Hotelsng held remote internships last year and used it extensively. The community of 1000+ developers and designers who took part in that program has continued to create challenges for themselves using the tool. So much so, in fact, that a conference was held earlier this year with the CEO of Figma flying over to Nigeria.
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 Content
Producing textual content, either as blog posts or newsletters, is the easiest way to reach out to the 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 an excellent break down of thoughts and live coding sessions. All the packages you would normally pay for are given for free.
This is the newsletter to read if you want to gain insight about the business of tech 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. You can find content on web design and mobile app development there. And if you care for opinionated and intriguing insights on the startup scene in Nigeria, then their trivial section is for you. You can read about the data sharing culture among startups in Nigeria here, if you love analytics.
Further, they host events and offer free hosting plans to encourage developers to 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 much 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.
This is the crown jewel developer community in Sub Saharan Africa with more than 3,000 brilliant minds sharing ideas. You can join the 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, like a mini stack overflow.
DC also curates outreach program like The Resource for startups and Ask Me Anything (A.M.A) sessions with industry experts on selected topics.
The tech community of all communities — forloop. Developer outreach and training has taken on a new form and dimension since people started volunteering through this platform. It has branches in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya.
It was reported by CNN that forloop is “… the largest gathering of software developers and enthusiasts across Africa.”
If you are interested in learning how software developers are building products for African consumers, the reasons behind their solutions, or the kind of challenges they face, then you should check out the group’s channel on YouTube. Lots of insights there.
3. GDG Lagos
Google Developer Groups are the biggest tech communities in Nigeria, and the Lagos branch is the largest of them all. Last year, at the annual summit, over 600 developers were in attendance (see the report here). You should definitely attend their next meetup, if you are in Lagos or look for a GDG chapter near you, if you are outside Lagos, via meetup.
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 is trained in the 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.
This is where you will find the largest collection of developers/designer newbies. If you are marketing a product, you should definitely check them out.
This article would not be complete without writing about CcHub. It is many things in one, a hub for techies to mingle, a work space, an innovation center, and an incubation platform. But it is most popular for being the de facto event space for tech events in Nigeria.
Many of the meetups listed above converge here regularly — including Usable and forloop. So if you are in Lagos and want to get involved, this is place to meet people building the next generation of products and startups.