With the world’s youngest, fastest growing population, Africa is also the world’s largest source of untapped talent. But that talent pool is starting to be tapped as tech employers, large and small, turn their attention to the continent’s potential.
There are many economic, cultural, political and technological differences across Africa, but the continent is home to one of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies and holds extraordinary promise as an incubator of the next generation of tech talent.
Move over, Eastern Europe and India. Here are four reasons why hiring managers should look to Africa as a source for top tech talent:
1. “Demography is destiny.”
As the French philosopher and sociologist Auguste Comte once said, “demography is destiny.” Today, Africa has the youngest population in the world, a trend that’s expected to become even more pronounced over the coming decades. By 2040, half of the world’s young people will live in Africa. Simply put, anyone looking to find the next generation of the digital workforce should start focusing on Africa.
2. “The lions are going digital.”
Technology use is expected to increase rapidly across the continent in the coming years, concludes a 2013 report from McKinsey & Company. In 2013, 67 million people in Africa used smartphones and 16 percent of the population was online. By 2025, the report projected, Internet penetration will reach 50 percent. That’s 600 million Internet users using 360 million smartphones. As the continent comes online, employers can increasingly access workers wherever there is an Internet connection.
3. The rise of “Savannah Valley.”
As Africa goes digital, we are witnessing the emergence of entrepreneurial hubs across the continent. Tech hubs such as Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria, and iHub in Nairobi, Kenya, are springing up to foster budding tech communities.
The emergence of these tech hubs also reflects increasing interest from the venture community. In the fourth quarter of 2014, African startups raised an unprecedented $200 million in venture money, data from CrunchBase showed, with South Africa leading the way, followed by Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt. These hubs are fueling the rise of digitally-savvy young people who are every bit as talented and hungry as workers anyplace else.
4. An easier way to do business overseas.
When employers look for workers overseas, there are often two barriers that stand in the way. The first is language. But while it is often difficult to find tech workers fluent in English in Eastern Europe, India or China, English is widely spoken across Africa.
The second barrier is business hours. Unlike India, however, cities in West Africa, like London, are on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which makes collaboration with U.S. and European teams much easier.
Together, the four reasons above point the way to a simple fact: the tech revolution may have started in Palo Alto, but its future will be written in Lagos, Nairobi and the capitals of Africa.