Digest: Somalia’s first tech hub

Note: This is an edited version of the TechCabal daily digest for September 4, 2017. Subscribe here, to get it in your mailbox every day around 7am (WAT).

Here’s what you should know today.


1 – Face, meet palm. 🤦🏽‍♂️

Techpoint.ng ran an article (opinion piece?) yesterday, about how Nigeria is “exporting” tech talent, so local startups are starved of developers. The concern is valid (though certainly not new), but there was one sentence that caught my attention:

Speaking to Techpoint during a briefing, Acting National Coordinator of the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), Dr. Amina Sambo-Magaji says that the agency is currently working on an ICT innovation policy that will include the regulation of the migration of tech talent abroad.

😕 cjcwbfiw…whatmanneroflogic? I hope Dr. Amina was misquoted, because I don’t see how this makes any sense.

i) Concerns of local developers leaving local startups to work for international companies are mostly overstated. In fact, I’ll eat my hat if there are more than 30 – seriously. It is much more likely that they live in Nigeria, participate in the ecosystem while earning their keep remotely.

ii) We cannot call our developers #worldclass, expecting them to build world class software, without paying them world class salaries, and the economics just don’t work out for local startups to do that. Your N250,000 ($685) per month offer will no longer cut it.

iii) Money is not the only reason for local developers to work remotely for foreign companies – personal growth, structure, and application complexity are probably just as – if not more – important.

iv) When these developers help build products like Adblock Plus, Trello, Stripe, Snapchat, etc, they get exposed to much more complex paradigms than they would otherwise, and some of those learnings get trickled down to developers back home who are only just finding their feet, via great initiatives like forLoop, GDG, Devcenter Square, etc. (See: [i])

v) Thus, if the problem is that Nigerian startups don’t have enough software developers, the solution CANNOT be to make software development a less attractive career option (by trying to force local developers to work with local companies, against their personal best interests). Like Moyin said: no be so dem dey do something, my guy*. 

vi) Local developers working for international companies is a fundamentally good thing. Attempting to “regulate the migration of tech talent abroad” is not only impossible (unless they will come and check our laptops to see who we are working for), it is also irrational. It makes a lot more sense to:

a) grow the pie by supporting existing developer communities and training programs (see: forLoop, GDG, Hotels.ng’s internship),

b) provide infrastructure for local startups so they can succeed and thus afford to pay more competitive salaries,

c) get out of the way by not stifling the ecosystem with bad regulation.

A word is enough for the wise.

*Nigerian Pidgin for: “that’s not the proper way to do things.”

2 – Somalia’s first tech hub 👏🏾

QZ:

Coming soon to Mogadishu: Somalia’s first fully-fledged innovation hub.

iRise Hub, which will officially open in the Somali capital in September, will function as a co-working space and provide research, incubation, and acceleration services for new start-ups. The name iRise is a play on the #SomaliaRising hashtag from Twitter, which has been used to document the country’s socioeconomic and political progress over the last few years.

This is excellent news! Because of how unstable the country has been (civil war et al.), and how little banking infrastructure has been set up, Somalia has one of the most active mobile-money markets in the world. Also, in my periphery, I have seen reports (like this one) of young Somalians coming together to build technology products to work around their infrastructural problems. I am a firm believer in the potential of technology to push humanity forward, and iRise Hub is a firm step in the right direction.

+ Worth noting that Innovate Ventures, a startup accelerator programme in partnership with VC4A, launched last year in Somalia.

What else is interesting?


+ VC4Africa has launched Startup Academy, a series of courses for African founders. Link.

+ Solar-powered mobile carts. Link.

+ Trivia: more than 8000 .AFRICA domains have been registered. Link.

+ Good read: lessons from an angel investor. Link.

Opportunities.


+ Oluwole Ogunlade of Spokentwice.com is looking for product designers looking to work in Agritech. Reach out to him if you’re interested.

+ Microsoft has $200k for African game developers. Link.

+ Launch Pad, a coworking space owned by Chris Schultz (investor in Flutterwave and Tizeti) in Charleston and New Orleans is hiring a graphics designer. Apply here, if you’re interested.

Upcoming events


Lagos: TechCabal’s next Office Hours session is about Fundraising, and it will be facilitated by Lexi Novitske from Singularity Investments. It will hold at 4pm on September 15th at V8 Valley, Lekki. Fill this form to apply, and we will get back to you soon.

 

Cape Town: SA Innovation Summit is taking place from September 6 – 8 at the stadium in Green Point. Link.

Lagos: VR talk tomorrow, at Konga’s Office in Alausa (CIPM building, CIPM avenue). Register.

Lagos: Ventures Platform’s second demo day will hold on September 15 at 10am, Genesis Deluxe Cinemas, Palms Mall. Register to attend.

Lagos: PyCon, a gathering of Python developers and enthusiasts in Nigeria on 15th and 16th September. Link.

Lagos: NigeriaCom, an exclusive conference about the networks and ICT of Digital Nigeria, will hold on September 20 – 21 at Oriental Hotel. Get more details and register here.

Lagos: forLoop women and Africa’s Talking are holding “The Bot Party” on September 23. Deets.

Lagos: Paystack is organizing a Y-Combinator Lagos Meetup on September 23. Meet YC founders and gain insight into the process. Link.


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