Over years we have witnessed the growth of tech communities across Africa, where these forums are filled with experts from various tech-related backgrounds. These members of various communities are able to work together and contribute to projects and initiatives whose goal is not only to come up with solutions but also shape the ever-evolving tech industry.
After studying informatics and computer science as her major, Roina Ochieng had a whole lot of community engagement where she demystified the old misconception that coding and social life do not go hand in hand. She was actively involved in student societies and clubs from high school through to her first year in university.
As a developers success associates who specializes on talent at Africa’s Talking, her typical day comprises of a whole lot of meetings and conversations with developers on how best they can support the platform, beside this, her main job is to build communities, build developers and build ideas. She, however, appreciates that the growth she has acquired is through community engagement, “A lot of my skills were built through teaching other people in the community, it was then more than ideal when I got the opportunity to work with developers and communities,” says Roina.
As she has observed from the diverse markets in her travels and conversations, communities across Africa experience diverse problems and thus the efforts should be now directed to equipping the members of these communities with in-depth ways of understanding their challenges and equipping them with skills to solve these problems comprehensively.
While working for a Pan-African company that she deems to be one of the few that saw the true value of investing in developers, she acknowledges this has gone a long way into the evolution of products and consequently the entire ecosystem. “The realization that developers can be behind business and actualization of this belief through our founders has gone a long way into investments in the tech ecosystems,” she observes.
So far, the greatest technology transformation in her career is the fact that the line between mathematical science and computer science is fading as results of both of them being exposed to a paranormal amount of data that the world is generating through connectivity. The task at hand now is building models, very complex ones to make sure that technology is able to adapt to these data.
“Support is support, many would argue but the results of the intents vary very much”
It is highly commendable that so many parties are investing in growing and supporting the tech community. However, the support is very two-sided; On one hand, the intentions could be corporates supporting to build skills and to uplift the members of the community, while on the other hand, the intent may be very superficial in that they support to solely sell and make more sales. However, support is support, many would argue but the results of the intents vary very much.
Communities fueled by the former intent are most likely to be more scalable and very objective in their solutions and actually pay it forward whilst the latter results could translate in a community full of shallow knowledge, flooded with brand logos but with no real or scalable impacts. The community becomes drowned in the facade of numbers and not actual skills and impact.
Unfortunately yet, fortunately, the tech community in Kenya is walking that fine line between the two. This means a lot of added pressure for community leaders and organizers. It is, however, a chance to learn how to move on from the former way of hyped evangelism to equipping more people with skills through the community and bringing more ideas to life.
The biggest shift that needs to happen is a change in higher institutes of learning where actual tech skills like coding, data science and machine learning are practically taught as opposed to theoretical learning. “The makers of the curriculum are so abstracted from industry requirements and the practicality of skills required to thrive in the industry that often a four-year degree means nearly nothing in the job market,” Remarks Roina.