Likewise in most poor areas in the world, Africa is full of talents and competence. For long the continent has been ignored in many aspects except for its natural resources and civil conflicts. To some people, it's the continent of ignorance. It's untrue of course. :)
Africans have more chances to increase their perspectives with the event of Internet. IT market is still at its embryonic stage. Few companies actually hire for talents or quality. In our employment system we still follow papers and family relationships.
It's now possible for youth to work for most prominent companies outside Africa. Freelancing is taking over in the new generation. IT start-ups are growing rampant.
Although the talent level is not up to international standards, there is still a good set of well talented developers and designers in Africa who can fit in international markets and projects.
A example of that is Otemuyiwa Prosper, who worked for tech giants like Andela and recently was hire by an American firm, Auth0 as a technical writer.
In fact most companies and individuals have understand that quite a while now, and have been enjoying that opportunity. I say "enjoying" because outsourcing in Africa means cheaper deals*. A project of $5k in USA can be done with $1k in africa.
You might say it's because the work is not good enough. Yes, You are probably right to say so. But the main reason is that, for most african, $1k is a lot of money once changed into most of our local currencies. This motivates a lot of us to accept deals most outsiders consider as cheap.
But, this can't be without some drawbacks. In fact, outsourcing in Africa causes a lot of problems to the extend that most companies don't even want to deal with africans. I remember some few months ago, I lost a deal of $3k from Germany, because the client noticed I was in Africa.
These are things companies usually look at and they don't want to outsource in Africa:
1. Information security
How equiped are people who are receiving my information? How careful are they? Can they keep my clients' details secured? These are doubts companies usually have.
Africa is full of scam of all levels. It's hard to tell who is the right personal to deal with.
3. Education standard too poor
I hate to say that but, African education system remains one of the poorest in the world. People come out of universities and they still can do any practical thing. Self tought people are even better than most people who went to universities.
4. Lack of means to track people
Addressing and identification issues prevents companies from tracking people in case of issues.
5. True competence and skills
It's hard to check how good people are in Africa since hardly you see us creating something unique.
These are few. Depending on the business or the person, more issues can occur.
But, all this is just one side of the case. On the other side, there are countless challenges those young people go through to complete outsourced jobs.
For that I went to meet some developers and startups and asked them how they manage to do their jobs from outside.
In most cases, to complete a task they need following:
- Internet connection
- Electricity power
- Good equipment(computers, phones, etc)
- Experience in negociation
- Social challenges
- And time
Basically this looks nothing, but in an African context this can become complex. Let's look at that closer:
1. Internet connection
This isn't the worst in the world but the rarerest and the most expensive. Those guys always have to make sure they have it first. The issue with Internet connection is that it's expensive and there are still areas where cannot access some ISP networks, such as Surfline. Most part of the money these guys make goes in the internet packages.
This is the biggest problem most developers and companies suffer from in Africa. In most countries like Ghana where I live, you have about 20% of the week light on and the rest off, and that depending on the area you live in. The unstability of the electricity is a big problem because it delays project deliveries. Something you are supposed to do in a week you might be surprised that during the week you got only two days to work.
3. Good equipment
Mostly, all those guys need is a computer. In this case it's important to have good ones. A computer which battery can keep charge for an hour of two. But you will be surprise to see that most of these guys hard have a good computer.
Some of them use computers that are old and slow, with no good batteries and keyboards. And when we talk of good equipement that also implies have good phones with adequate apps installed such as Whatsapp, Viber, etc. The equiment actually defines the office of most of them.
Of course, skills are key in all. Most of those people I met are talented in their respective fields, although the nature of our world does not value things that way.
We have full-stack web developers who are absolutely self-thought people.
While any of those point can be considered as an excuse to a faillure, the young African freelancer must be conscious of their existance and plan accordingly.
You have an idea of it hapens in the behind the scene. You know what to focus on when you are planning to outsource in Africa or you you want to get jobs from outside. This might sound abnormal to most of you. But this actually happens and Africa, likewise India, is becoming a great place to handle big projects.
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