As entrepreneurs and philanthropists recognize the need for a more skilled technology workforce in Africa, several organizations have formed in response. New training schools in the Horn of Africa seek to provide Africans with vital technology skills that will enable them to secure good jobs.
However, the motivations and outcomes of Africa’s technology training schools can vary widely. The schools’ founders have approached their training institutes’ structures and impacts very differently, and students should be aware of the underlying vision and practices of the institutions before applying or committing to study there.
The Gebeya Institute and Andela are two of the most-talked-about technology training schools in Africa. Each operates in northern Africa, focusing on countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. While there’s no question that there’s a worldwide demand for software developers as companies such as Facebook, Google, and Netflix continue to grow in users and influence, potential technology workers should make a wise decision on how they choose where to obtain their training. The training institute developers attend will determine what kind of career they will have long after they graduate from school.
For the following reasons, Gebeya is the better option for both students and Africa’s budding technology sector:
Africans run the show.
Although both companies were founded by entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, only Gebeya is guided by an almost entirely African team. The majority of executives at Andela are American.
Gebeya, which is based in Addis Ababa, was co-founded by Hiruy Amanuel, an American venture capitalist and investor whose parents emigrated from Ethiopia. The idea for the institute grew from a conversation that Amanuel had with Amadou Daffe, an African technology leader who was visiting California in hopes of finding investors. Their conversation turned to building schools in Ethiopia, and Daffe quickly sold Amanuel on the idea of building a software training academy that would match graduates with potential clients.
While Gebeya maintains an American office for its administrative and legal staff, its marketing headquarters are in Kenya, where many Fortune 500 companies have African headquarters, and its academies are now open in Ethiopia.
Andela was co-founded by Jeremy Johnson, an education technology entrepreneur who works in Silicon Valley, in conjunction with Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Ian Carnevale, and Christina Sass. The organization partners with a number of American-based companies, including Microsoft and 2U, a company that Johnson founded. Johnson has said that he was inspired to start Andela after visiting Nairobi to talk to industry leaders and donors about the state of online education.
Students maintain control of their intellectual property.
Andela offers its standard four-month training program for free. While this can amount to thousands of dollars in free education, students must then commit all intellectual property that they create in the next four years to Andela.
The Gebeya Institute does not require students to sign over any intellectual property rights in return for its training, which operates on a tuition-based program. In addition, students may be eligible for scholarships or referral discounts, and the school offers a tuition payment plan.
Gebeya aims to build up Africa’s technology sector.
At Andela, trainees are recruited to study at the school and then must make a four-year commitment to work remotely for a technology company that partners with Andela. Most of those companies are based in the United States, which effectively creates an outsourced developer workforce for America.
In stark contrast, the Gebeya Institute’s vision has always been to train workers who would contribute to a growing technology industry in Africa. Keenly aware of the high demand for programmers in Africa, Gebeya has strategically located staff in Nairobi, Kenya, to connect with some of the biggest technology employers on the continent. Gebeya also is creating on online, global IT service marketplace, where African IT professional can connect with potential employers in Africa and all over the world.
The platform offers Gebeya graduates the opportunity to learn how to operate as a professional in a large marketplace, where they must promote their competitively priced technology skills along with a sense of professionalism and confidence. They must research potential clients and determine how their skills could match with a client’s needs. As Gebeya graduates secure work and build a professional network, they will develop long-term job stability and a steady income.
As Gebeya continues to train hundreds of Africans and sends them out to compete in the global IT marketplace, Africans will benefit both personally and professionally. More Africans will have better jobs with better income, and Africa’s growing technology industry will find more and more qualified software engineers, application developers, and other IT professionals in its own backyard.