Is it the numbers of years he/she has been writing code? The languages they code in? How fast they get things done? Or the number of projects they’ve has completed and delivered?
The following are just my opinions. I might not have been writing code for the past 15 years, and I might be 24 years old, and currently serving serving my country in the NYSC. You might disagree with some of the issues raised here. This is fine.
A lot of conversations have been going on in the Nigeria tech scene lately, around how employable Nigerian programmers are and how many months it takes to go from being a novice to an decent coder. A lot has been said for outsourcing development projects to devs outside Nigeria using platforms such as odesk, elance and the like. These are serious issues that need to be discussed openly.
Self Taught Techies
Most techies in Nigeria (developers, designers et al) are self taught.
Let’s use myself as a case study. I studied computer science in a federal university. And to be honest the course outline is the uttermost crap and bullshit. However, from when I gained admission till when I graduated, I spent the whole time developing myself. I downloaded and read countless ebooks, watched countless tutorials, send emails to countless programmers just asking how they got started, what language to use, what’s the best way for a beginner to get started.
I started learning to code and writing code in 2008. This year makes it eight since I began to program. Based on that time span, do I consider myself a pro? Nope — I am still a novice, still learning new things. The technologies that I use change, and new features are constantly getting added. Plus I got distracted along the way and there are external factors that contributed as well.
Distractions and external factors
There’s the popular saying about the “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Most techies fancy they are a designer, developer, SEO expert, social media manager and so on, all at the same time. But people can be good at only so many things.
In my case, I’m am good with solving issues (development) and not good at creating interfaces (design). Because I get a job that involves both (design and development) doesn’t means I will jump at it and at the end of the day turn out a product that is functional at the backend but looks like crap. A lot of Nigerian techies are guilty of this. I was at some point, but truth be told, you can hardly blame us. We’ve got to eat.
Still, if you are a developer be a developer and let the design guys do the design. Collaboration is of the utmost importance here. And this is lacking in Nigeria.
External factors such as access to cheap and reliable internet access, guaranteed power supply and a conducive working environment are critical to how fast one can learn and delivers jobs and these are obviously not nearly as good as they should be in Nigeria.
Which language is superior?
The language wars is crazy. You need to see devs arguing about the language they use and why they use it. At any point in time there is always the argument that one language is superior to another or others.
I don’t have the answer to that question. Maybe you do. I code in PHP only as I haven’t had time to learn another language, and I don’t see the need to right now.
Users are not concerned about the language or technology that powers our site or the solutions or services that we offer. All what they care about is that it works. To me, knowing a language well enough to solve a problem is the most important thing. So whether you code in PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, Scala, or what not, there is really no need to disparage the language anyone else uses.
A lot of people say PHP is crap. I am not discouraged or concerned about this. I work with WordPress, creating custom plugins and building solutions on top of it. What powers WordPress PHP. That’s why I only know how to program in PHP and don’t see the need to learn another one. WordPress development is the path I have chosen for myself. Two years down the line I see myself working for Automattic or a WordPress VIP partner.
To guys that create solutions like Prowork, Fonenode, Callbase, Prepclass and a whole lot of others too numerous to mention — people that run startups in Nigeria…I doff my hat off to you, because creating and running a startup n Nigeria is crazy, and somehow you still manage to keep going.
Now, I am going to ask some random questions
- Can you entrust development of a $1,000,000 project into the hands of a team of Nigeria developers?
- Is it cool to outsource project that address local issues to teams outside Nigeria.
- What can be done towards creating developer’s and having a readily available pool of them.
Writing is not not something I’m fond of doing. But I might end up writing a second part to this post.
There are a lot of questions that need to be asked and answered from various people and their responses shared.
Images via Treehouse blog