This article was contributed to TechCabal by Conrad Onyango via bird story agency.

The latest data from GitHub, a global hub for software development, has listed the two African economies – Nigeria and Egypt – as among the world’s 10 fastest-growing countries for software development in 2023.

It may come as no surprise that software development is on the rise in Africa. Vibrant startup hubs across the continent have become famous, with Silicon Cape, Silicon Savannah and Silicon Valley (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, respectively) all known across the tech ecosystem. Over the last five years, Nigeria has flexed its continental muscle in terms of tech startup funding and development, while Egypt has shown every sign of becoming Africa’s next biggest startup ecosystem, both in terms of deal count and deal value.

What is surprising is the speed of growth, according to the report.

Nigeria grew developer talent numbers by 45.6% between Q3 of 2022 and Q3 of 2023, to 872,162 – the fastest growth in Africa.

“Nigeria has been ploughing ahead of other African geographies in recent years, firmly establishing itself as a – if not the – leading startup ecosystem on the continent,” said Disrupt Africa in a separate report.

The West African country was the world’s second-fastest-growing country for developers after Bangladesh, whose developer count grew by 66.5% to 945,696.

Egypt, placed second in Africa in terms of total developer numbers and growth rate, saw its developer count rise by 34.1% to 729,790.

The North African country topped the growth rates of Argentina (33.2%), Hong Kong (32.1%) and Indonesia (32.1%) in terms of growth rates, to finish seventh in the global ranking.

However, an article in non-profit publication, Rest of the World, warned that the fast-rising developer community could also reflect tech workers turning to unpaid work in the face of drying venture capital taps.

“A surging number of GitHub accounts might suggest a rising tech sector — but it might also represent a decline in actual work, as developers turn to unpaid work on public repos after paid work disappears,” according to the publication.

Disrupt Africa in its African Tech-Startups Funding Report 2023, reported that Egypt experienced a huge squeeze on startup jobs in 2023, with just 3,085 new jobs reported – an average of 67 per startup and substantially down from the 11,153 people employed by startups in 2022.

This was fueled by the collapse of funding by more than 50% in the country, with figures almost entirely propped up by a single company – MNT-Halan’s single round of $510 million.

Nigeria’s startup job market, however, recorded only a marginal drop, from 6,751 people in 2022 to 6,669 in 2023. The Disrupt report put the average number of employees at Nigerian startups in 2023 at 53 per startup, up from 38 in 2022. 

Other top developer markets in Africa, according to GitHub, include South Africa, which finished as the third-fastest-growing market on the continent. The country’s developer numbers grew from 412,731 in 2022 to 540,486. South Africa was followed by Morocco with a current total of 448,194 developers and Kenya with 297,581.

In 2021 search engine Google recorded the continent’s total developer count at 716,000, according to its Africa Developer Ecosystem Report 2021, reflecting the phenomenal level of growth in recent years.

African startups, according to the Google report, are responsible for hiring more than half of local developers, with foreign companies outside the continent hiring 38% of the remaining talent.

Data from the layoff-tracking website, shows a total of 1,191 tech companies – including giants like Microsoft, Google, TikTok and YouTube – retrenched 262,995 employees across the globe in 2023.

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