There has been much talk about diversifying the Nigerian economy especially since the fall in oil prices that plunged the country into a recession. The tech industry is regarded by many as the future of the Nigerian economy, after all, tech is said to be the new oil, right?
Yet even during the oil boom, we didn't reap maximum returns because we exported the same oil we produced only to import refined oil. Today there is a similar trend in the tech sector. Despite the dearth of quality tech talent in the Nigerian ecosystem, a good portion of our talented developers are employed by foreign companies while many companies and organisations in Nigeria still give preference to foreign software and technical talent.
While it certainly feels good to know that some of our local developers excel abroad, it undoubtedly hinders the much-needed growth of our budding tech industry which is still struggling to build its talent base.
According to a CcHub report, companies struggle to fill tech vacancies due to lack of skilled technical talent. Despite a large pool of human capital, our inability to process adequate skilled talent and retain them is a big problem.
Andela, one of the notable solutions, that is bridging the tech talent gap in the country is not a Nigerian company. Also, it's no news that Andela developers work mainly for foreign clients remotely. There is no reason Nigeria cannot replicate proven solutions like Andela even in other areas of technology apart from software engineering.
Billions of looted funds in the news daily has proven that monetary resources exist to do this if we want. Just the same way we could have built or fixed our own refineries long ago if we only had the vision.
Mr. Aderemi Adejumo, an IT professional who has had vast experience working at home and abroad said this in an interview with Techpoint. “We work so hard in Nigeria but in England, you don't have to work as hard as you work here, yet your reward is bigger and people appreciate you better”.
This is not unique to England, it is general knowledge that tech workers work under unfavourable conditions in Nigeria compared to their peers around the world. Despite low earnings, many of these developers are also expected to be “Jack of all trades” as some employers expect them to be proficient in many diverse areas to cut costs even further. So is it surprising that professionals seek better opportunities outside Nigeria?
However, If we must catch up with the pace of technological advancements in the world, we will need more top tech talent creating useful solutions to solve our own problems.
Speaking to Techpoint during a briefing, Acting National Coordinator of the Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE), Dr. Amina Sambo-Magaji says that the agency is currently working on an ICT innovation policy that will include the regulation of the migration of tech talent abroad.
While we wait to see how this policy will pan out, it has become pertinent to figure out more ways to build more talent and make the tech industry in Nigeria more attractive.