Why should US and European companies create tech teams with African talent?

June 27, 2022

Creating tech teams that can handle technological development or business processes continues to be an effective method for US and European companies in today's highly competitive global market. They hire African tech talent because they possess the right mix of professional qualities. Many of these companies outsource non-core activities such as IT, finance, and human resources so they can devote more resources to essential business operations. Africa remains the fastest-growing continent for software development, and leading technology companies like Orange, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, etc. are responding by opening massive tech hubs and giving their best to attract high-grade african tech talent.

These companies rely largely on entrepreneurial zeal and problem-solving abilities. These are all resources that African tech talents possess. Doesn't that talent require training to create software? It certainly does. That is an opportunity. See the fantastic startup Andela, which discovers the best raw tech talent in Africa, trains them for 1000+ hours, and then deploys them all over the world. They identify the structural barriers that keep brilliance and opportunity from connecting.

Their first aim was to discover high-potential African tech talent, train them in software development (with a strong emphasis on remote work and soft skills), and then place them as full-time distributed engineers. They identified a chance to establish a business while investing in talent development across Africa, and the results have been fantastic. Andela is now Africa's most elite technical organization, representing over 1500 engineers and collaborating with over 200 of the world's most prestigious tech giants, including Goldman Sachs, GitHub, Coursera, and Kraft Heinz.

Companies that have created tech teams with African talent

Here are three US companies that have created successful tech teams with African tech talent:

 

IBM

It's safe to say that IBM is one of the world's largest producers of computer hardware. They will soon have facilities and offices in every major city around the globe. Due to IBM's expansion, the company can hire more South Africans for in-house positions and expand its operations there. IBM's services in Sandon, South Africa, include a wide variety of categories, including application integration, IT infrastructure, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and business operations.

Fujitsu Siemens

Fujitsu Siemens aspires to create a world where communications technology eliminates physical barriers between individuals. And now that we've accomplished that, Fujitsu isn't going to stop making advancements. The corporation sees outsourcing services to African countries like South Africa as an investment in its future success. The Fujitsu Siemens offices in South Africa are located in the major metropolises of Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Durban, and Cape Town. Some IT solutions they offer include cloud computers, integrated networks, servers, and mainframe computers.

Microsoft

Microsoft's Africa Development Center (ADC), which opened in May 2019, is located in Nigeria and Kenya and aims to develop cutting-edge technologies for the continent and beyond. After that, a call went out for talented engineers to work on AI, ML, and VR/AR, and the company pledged to spend $100 million over the first five years.

The Microsoft Garage is also located in the new building. The Garage serves as a flexible work environment for Microsoft workers, interns, schools, and community groups to develop new products and acquire new skills. People from all around the Microsoft ADC come to The Garage to work on cross-functional teams on pet projects, some of which end up in Microsoft products. This, in turn, is intended to make Microsoft ADC a more influential force in shaping Africa's tech culture.

Why did these companies outsource their services to Africa?

Image by Gibson from Pixabay

One of the most apparent reasons US companies come for top African tech talent is because Africa can boast of more qualified tech talents than those available in their respective markets. Most of Africa's brightest minds in technology are itching for new and exciting professional opportunities. Successful startups' large-scale solutions present excellent chances for African talent to contribute. Africa has everything a business might want: a youthful and skilled labor force, a local population fluent in multiple languages, and a time zone overlap with key cities around the world. These three factors are among many that US and European companies consider.

Decision-makers compare and contrast these factors to determine whether or not hiring African tech talent is the right course of action. The expansion of a company through the adoption of African talent is not the cheapest option to operate, but its cost-effectiveness will be felt and seen in the future. And given sufficient time, the expansion will be possible in every meaning of the word. 

 

Two regional African IT giants US and European companies can consider

Fortunately, some nations have superior technology ecosystems compared to others. Let's take a deeper look at Nigeria in West Africa and South Africa as a representative of the South African region.

Nigeria

Nigeria has the largest economy and is the most populous country in Africa. The oil industry has long held sway over the Nigerian economy. However, this is about to change as the country is rapidly becoming one of the most dynamic IT hubs, with 10% of GDP coming from the IT sector alone. Despite being one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa, Lagos, Nigeria's economic hub, boasts one of the most excellent urban infrastructures on the continent. 

The first Nigerian IT firms were founded to address the inefficiencies in delivering goods and services and fill in the blanks where the business environment and services lagged. This included the country's unreliable power supply and credit issues. Despite the presence of large tech companies like IBM, Ericsson, and Google, the country's vitality is attributable to the 55 IT centers (2020, Center for Global Development study) that are humming with startups and small enterprises using technology to solve real-world problems.  

Local Nigerian entrepreneurs have honed down on mobile broadband-dependent applications because so much computing is done on mobile devices first or solely. The government and industry realized the significance of mobile connectivity, and the country currently boasts the fastest download speeds and most expansive network coverage on the entire continent. The country has an English-speaking majority and a mobile expertise edge, but it also has somewhat high rental rates and infrastructural worries.

South Africa

South Africa is culturally the most European country in Africa. The country was founded a century ago by European (mostly English and Dutch) expatriates, and it still retains a strong European flavor. South Africa, formerly the economic powerhouse of Africa, is now the continent's second-largest economy and a global leader in numerous high-value industries.

The country has the highest rate of English proficiency in Africa and houses six of the top ten universities in Africa for IT studies, producing some of the continent's most well-educated IT specialists. The country has the largest open source community in Africa, with over 12,000 Github users. South Africa is home to software development for several significant corporations, including Microsoft, Parallels, and ABBYY. 

Around 440,000 people work in the IT sector; most of them are employed by the 20,000 or so smaller enterprises that make up most of the sector. Although software developers in South Africa earn higher salaries than their counterparts in other African countries, this is balanced out by extensive training and an ingrained culture of professionalism. 

There are many reasons US tech companies come to Africa to form the best tech teams. The continent has a large pool of talented and skilled workers who are devoted to constant learning as opposed to the low amount of tech talents available in their domestic market spaces.

Overall, Africa is a good supplier of IT services to Europe and the US due to the rapid development of infrastructure and IT expertise.

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