Competing for Tech Talent in Africa
In Africa, as nowhere else in the world, technology is improving people’s lives. From eCommerce platforms for the informal market sector to mobile money solutions for the unbanked, technology is helping to solve key development challenges in sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last seven years, the continent has seen a staggering increase in the number of new players in technology and tech-enabled companies which are creating solutions that can boost economies, improve healthcare, transform education, and so much more.
This has undoubtedly attracted the attention of international companies and Venture Capitalists (VCs). We have seen tech startups in Africa grow six times faster than the global average, and there has been a 46% increase in the number of startups that have secured funding in the region.
So, let’s talk about the talent shortage.
In 2022, the global investment landscape changed, causing a slowdown in the African tech ecosystem. African executives have been urging their leaders to “embrace ambiguity” by balancing cost-cutting exercises and innovation priorities. Business leaders have had to collaborate in developing a partner ecosystem to drive interoperability effortlessly for the end user. Top leaders have been focused on innovating by defining an immediate ROI value proposition, rather than expanding their business footprint, which has been the trend for the last five years.
As a result, they are investing in next-generation talent to future-proof their businesses. Ask any African CEO what his or her biggest challenge is, and the answer will probably be finding and hiring exceptional tech and leadership talent. In Africa, 65% of CEOs say the talent shortage is preventing them from innovating effectively.
According to a report by the African Development Bank, Africa faces a significant shortage of technology talent, with an estimated 4 million new technology jobs expected to be created by 2025 and only enough skilled professionals to fill 50% of these roles.
In addition to the demand for talent from African companies, concurrently the global market for tech experts has opened a whole realm of new possibilities for Africa’s young tech-savvy population which is compounding the problem. Developers have not only been able to overcome barriers frequently experienced in Africa, like infrastructure issues, but they have also trained themselves to become world-class communicators in addition to being software developers. This makes them independent, agile, and internationally marketable, which is a great advantage to employers globally and why there will continue to be a growing population of software developers coming out of Africa.
Creator: metamorworks | Credit: metamorworks
But this doesn’t help companies on the continent when the ‘bright lights’ of working with a global company are tempting them to look outside of Africa, leading to a “brain drain” effect that hinders the industry’s growth in Africa. The result is that the competition for best-of-breed tech talent is ferocious and the inability to attract and/or retain this talent is one of the top three risks for companies in this space today.
So, what are the solutions?
Whilst Africa has already begun its tech human capital strategy, the availability, and increase in tech start-up funding on the continent have massively increased. This has encouraged many young people to venture into the tech space with a boost in the number of fellowship and mentorship programs designed to shape and mould young tech-savvy Africans into elite tech experts.
Young people are Africa’s greatest asset and its future. Investing in the next generation of African leaders will accelerate the development of the African continent and is the key to unlocking the enormous potential that lies on the continent. Growing tech talent gives a great ‘exportable’ service bringing much-needed international currency into African economies.
But companies also need to spend more time, effort, and money on attracting and retaining their quality tech talent to focus on solving African problems and positively impacting the continent. It’s an ongoing battle that requires creativity and patience. Investing in a strong HR leader who can create and maintain a strong culture is a good place to start that is often overlooked.
Whilst it may seem obvious, investment in world-class infrastructure and resources that can support remote working models are critical attraction and retention strategies. Tech talent is rarely patient, and if they experience technological inadequacies which stop them from working effectively, that talent will walk out the door. Commitment to offer cutting-edge and continuous learning opportunities is also an important retention tool to keep your tech talent up to date and to be able to innovate market-leading products.
Word spreads fast in this space and Employer Value Proposition and Brand visibility are key to attracting best-of-breed technology talent and the importance of these in your hiring process cannot be overstated. And don’t forget; actively pursuing ‘passive’ candidates using an experienced and well-networked head-hunter can help you access the talent you can’t reach. 76% of the African workforce is made up of ‘passive’ talent – people who aren’t actively searching for a new job – and the companies they work for are working hard to keep them focused internally rather than to let them become dissatisfied and start browsing job boards.
So – is your organisation and leadership team aligned to attract and inspire the new generation?
Here at Executives in Africa, we believe we have identified the key to accessing and helping tech-enabled businesses to attract and inspire tech talent that will unlock your business’s potential. If achieving this is key to the future success of your organisation, then please get in touch.
We would be happy to discuss your challenges to growth and how we can help you access the right tech talent to give your business a competitive advantage. Or find us at the Africa Tech Summit in London on the 22nd and 23rd of June in London, as a key sponsor of this event.
Nicki Hallé is a Client Partner at Executives in Africa, having previously worked within specialist tech talent recruitment. She has worked with some of the highest growth companies in Africa within Fintech, Payments, eCommerce, tech-enabled Logistics, and Business Services to find talent to support growth. To connect directly to Nicki, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org