By Rodgers Gitau, Cohort 7 student
The local developer’s community in Kenya is changing rapidly. For a long time, it has been a secluded few active developers while the majority (mostly students and new developers) lurked in the background feeling left-out. This divided community would only meet during hackathons and other such events. Such meetings would be dominated by the most vocal attendees and after lots of speeches plus the refreshments catered, the rest would leave having achieved nothing. This would often beg the question, was silicon Savannah really a community? So what does the community need to do in the next 10 years?
Less hackathons, more meetups
It seems almost every event organized by the community is an attempt for already existing startups to find investors. Agreed hackathons inspire and motivate developers to come up with some pretty interesting innovations. However, as a community, if that’s all members always meet for then the gap between the skilled and the novice will remain. The community should meet without the constrains of competition to share experiences and build mentor-mentee relationships.
Less paper-degrees, more projects
I think as a nation, we suffer from the poor assumption that if you land that HELB loan and join some university for a couple of years then you’re skilled. While getting a degree is a must for other industries, you could be a great developer without having to squander 4+ years being a comrade. Given that most of these ‘computer’ courses are decades old, most university graduates are just as unskilled as those who spent their time gallivanting around hustling. The continued growth of coding only schools such as Moringa School is a highly encouraged idea for the community.
Less employers, more mentors
While it is common to assume that once you land your first gig as a developer, the sky is the limit in your endeavors. It is more common to find that once a junior developer joins a reputable organization, they spend most of their time running errands and struggling to hold on to their wage-paying job. Senior developers and startups CTOs should instead nurture these bunch of energetic fellows who are the future of the community. They in turn will guide the next generation of developers. Don’t misunderstand, jobs are important but as the saying goes:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”- Benjamin Franklin
Less restrictions, more innovations
There is nothing as common in African countries as poor governance. As a community, Silicon Savannah suffers from some really foolish policies set by ignorant leaders.
Technology is fast moving and having defunct and outdated government agencies set the rules is crippling innovation. It’s time to get input from the community before passing some very ridiculous laws that only form barriers for the community.