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The world’s future workforce is African 🌍

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Welcome to Tech Safari!

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Happy Wednesday!

On Saturday I have some very exciting events to announce.

But before that, I have an ask. Do you know where I can find a venue for 50-60 people in Washington DC? An office, co-working space even someone’s backyard would do 😆

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Alright, into today’s edition!

A few weeks ago I promised more collaboration and here it is.

Today’s edition is a collaboration with Justin Norman, founder of The Flip, which (in my opinion) is the most in-depth and engaging podcast on tech in Africa.

Justin just released a podcast season on the Future of Work, the topic of today.

If you enjoy the edition you can get a deeper look at the Future of Work in Africa with The Flip.

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Africa’s population is growing really fast. In the next 80 years, the global population will grow by 3 billion people.

87% of that growth will come from Sub-Saharan Africa.

And over the next ten years, Africa is projected to expand its workforce by more than the rest of the world combined.

So with all this population growth - where will the jobs come from?

Paul Breloff, CEO of African recruitment firm, Shortlist, and a future of work expert breaks it down for us.

Since 2000, 9 million jobs have been added to the economy each year in Africa - but over 20 million people join the workforce each year.

Paul thinks that if Africa can’t make those jobs, we need to turn to the global economy - particularly digital and remote work.

As populations across the world start to shrink and COVID has made organisations more comfortable with remote work, it is fair to ask: could a remote African workforce power the digital economy for the rest of the world?

And with the barrier to entry even lower to get into tech roles, Africa’s workforce can be ‘on the map’ to be employed - all they need is internet access, sufficient education and skills.

A concept we explored with Nexford University, is ‘virtual migration’ - where Africa’s workforce virtually migrates into jobs across the world because of their skills.

Earlier this month we explored how talent in Africa islanding roles at global companies. Onyinye is based in Nigeria, and landed a job as a Business Analyst at Microsoft.

And there are a few compelling reasons why employers should hire from Africa, like:

  • A wide talent pool. Talent pipeline is a key consideration for global organisations looking to set up shop in a new market.

  • English Speaking. English is the business language of the world, and Anglophone African countries have a competitive advantage in the global economy.

  • Time zone benefits. With US Markets, employers can get better timezone coverage with employees in Africa eg., 8:00 am in Nairobi is 1:00 am in New York.

  • ‘Cheaper’ talent. Companies are happier to hire globally for the same roles at a lower rate, which is usually well above the market rate on the continent.

And let’s not forget to mention that Africa’s young population are entrepreneurial in nature (with the highest percentage of entrepreneurs among adults) and hungry for opportunities.

From Consumer to Producer Market

Africa is often seen as the ‘next billion’ consumer market.

But it should be seen as a producer market.

Rwanda is a good example of this - with a clear objective of growing its ICT sector and moving away from agricultural and material exports.

Rwanda aims to grow its BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) and ITO (Information Technology Outsourcing) sectors by attracting BPO and ITO companies to the continent.

In 2021 alone more than 8 BPO/ITO companies were registered in Rwanda with a plan to employ 3600 Rwandans.

Rwanda is moving away from raw materials and agriculture towards services - with a focus on ICT.

Justin spoke with Nitin Gajria, Google’s Managing Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, who explained Google’s commitment to investing in the continent’s talent.

In 2021, Google committed to investing $1 billion over the next 5 years to support Africa’s digital transformation.

With that commitment, they announced South Africa as a ‘cloud region’ with data centres being set up in the country, which will support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs by 2030.

They also launched an African product development centre in Nairobi - their second research and development investment in Africa, following their AI research centre in Ghana which started in 2019.

And they announced a Google Africa Developer Scholarship - training to become an Android Developers or Cloud Engineer.

In 2019, Microsoft launched its Africa Development Centre in Nairobi, Kenya - a hub with 500 engineers.

In 2021, Amazon announced its $280 million investment in a South Africa office, and now employs a workforce of 7,000.

It’s a point that global companies see Africa’s tech talent as the workforce of the future and are making moves to be at the centre of it.

But while job demand outstrips supply, there is still a shortage of well-trained tech talent on the continent.

This is where a category of startups are betting on the future workforce coming from Africa, and are seizing the opportunity with a model called Hire-Train-Deploy.


The Hire-Train-Deploy is a model that flips higher education on its head.

Instead of training for training’s sake, employers are taking a demand-led approach to training.

The Hire-Train-Deploy starts with the jobs first, then recruits and trains talent to fill the demand.

Andela is one of Africa’s first unicorns, and emphasised Africa’s workforce playing a role in the global stage of tech work.

Andela started by using the Hire-Train-Deploy model - taking inexperienced, high-potential talent and training them to become software engineers, paying them and training them on the job.

But in 2019, Andela cut 500 of its junior development team, announcing a pivot to becoming a global talent marketplace, with a focus on mid and senior talent.

While this might make us question whether the Hire-Train-Deploy model can actually create opportunities for early talent, it’s worth pointing out that the Hire-Train-Deploy model is demand-led.

It’s not just a skills issue, it’s a bridging issue - connecting supply to demand.

In the developer market, the most demand for experienced talent.

And senior talent is where the money is. In Andela’s announcement, they also shared that they had doubled revenue to $50 million. (Maybe missing a cue here but okay 🤷🏾‍♂️).

But not all career fields need mid to senior talent, and there is still a lot of opportunity with the Hire-Train-Deploy model.

Paul comments on the Hire-Train-Deploy model opportunity: what if we reviewed jobs with labor shortages that can be filled remotely, then determined what it would take to prepare a young African for that role?

Using an ‘Andela for X’ strategy, we could bridge talent to global roles.

A few African startups have already moved on this, like:

And there’s even more opportunity. In the US, there is a shortage of recruiters and accountants. Who is building the ‘Andela’ for these verticals?

10x outcomes

While all the data and recent movements point towards Africa becoming the future workforce of the world, it’s easy to skip over the impact.

If you’re living in Africa, transitioning from a local, non-tech role into a global remote role (or virtually migrating) is more than a nice salary bump.

It can be more than 10 times what you’re earning.

Jeremiah Ajayi, Senior Content Marketer at Stears, explores how being a ‘tech bro’ has changed young people’s lives in Nigeria.

One of the subjects is Dolapo - a 28-year-old Lawyer-turned-Product manager.

When Dolapo worked as a Lawyer, they earned ₦35,000 ($116 USD) a month.

After transitioning to become a product manager at an Agritech startup, they have 10x’ed their salary, earning ₦350,000 ($1164 USD) a month - letting them pay off their debt and start investing.

Getting a role in tech can be a golden ticket. It’s not just startups that have recognised that.

Non-profits like Ingressive For Good believe in the potential of technology for change.

Ingressive is on a mission to increase the earning power of one million African youths by teaching them tech skills and giving them laptops to get into tech.

Their documentary, Against All Odds, tells true stories of young people sharing how their lives changed after landing tech roles. It’s a bit of a tear-jerker, so be warned.

Africa’s future workforce will be remote, it will migrate ‘virtually,’ and tech giants and governments have noticed that.

And over the next decade, it’s going to change earning power and outcomes on the continent for the better.

What do you think of Africa’s future workforce potential?

Another thanks to Justin from The Flip, it was great to collaborate on this one!

Justin goes deep into the Future of Work in his latest season of The Flip. If you enjoyed this and want to go deep into the rabbit hole, listen to The Flip here.

And that's a wrap! If you're missing our Tech Round Up today hold on tight for Saturday for all the news in African tech this week.

PS - tomorrow I’m hosting a workshop with Raise called Fundraising 101 - a specialised workshop on fundraising in Africa. If you’re a founder this is for you, register here.

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Catch you soon!

👋🏾 Caleb