May 2nd, 2022
The story of Africa in recent decades has often been one of unmet potential. However, after long years of investment, development, and growth, the continent is now poised to become a major hub of IT Outsourcing (ITO).
The combination of the right talent, languages, infrastructure, investment, and imagination is already beginning to transform cities like Lagos, Nairobi, and Kigali into international technology centers. Today, companies are already building successful ITO centers around the continent, showing why Africa’s future is going to be driven by technology.
1. Qualified talent pools continue to grow
Africa already has a famously young population, and that population is getting educated. Nigeria and Egypt alone produce well over a million university graduates every year. But both universities and private companies are training young Africans for the IT market at an ever-increasing rate. Combine that with the well over 200 million Africans who speak English and it’s clear that there’s a vast talent pool in cities like Lagos and Kigali waiting for the right training to work in ITO.
Of course, the other element compounding these advantages is population growth. As populations in Europe, Japan, and North America begin to age, Africa’s population is set to nearly double in the next 30 years. That translates into talent pipelines capable of sustaining and scaling over time.
2. Time Zones are well-placed
Sharing the exact same time zones as Europe means that companies in African tech capitals are well placed to work with European, North American, and even Asian partners. Kigali is in the same time zone as Athens. Lagos shares its zone with Paris and Berlin. The IT workers of Accra get up at the same time as their colleagues in London. It’s one major factor that makes building an ITO center easier and more efficient.
3. Enterprise grade IT infrastructure
All but one of Africa’s 38 coastal countries is connected by one or more undersea network cables. That translates into increasingly fast network connection speeds from Morocco to South Africa. IT infrastructure in many African countries is enterprise grade with further investments being made across the continent, due to governments acknowledging how critical IT infrastructure is for future economic development.
Overall, from roads to airports, undersea cables to railways lines, African infrastructure is developing quickly. This means that today it is easier than ever to travel to and around various African tech hubs.
4. Unsaturated market provides more access to strong technical talent
Although major tech brands like Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft all have a presence in Africa, that presence is still a drop in the ocean relative to the young talent on the continent. The availability of that talent means that finding the right workforce and scaling it when you’re ready is easier and more affordable relative to many more established ITO locations.
Governments across the continent are also investing heavily in developing policies to encourage investment and further IT-driven development. For companies looking to open an office, this often means finding a favorable environment driven by local and national governments interested in helping.
5. Companies like Tek Experts are showing what’s possible
It’s easy to point to the talent, infrastructure, and other positive trends, but trends alone don’t always translate into business reality. We opened our first African office in Lagos in 2018 with around 200 staff. Today, Tek Experts runs two locations in Lagos and Kigali employing hundreds of people at each location.
Another key thing to address is that, far from being a “race to the bottom” search for low costs, our African offices provide support at the quality level we expect from any other office. Olugbolahan Olusanya, Country Manager for Tek Experts Nigeria, puts it quite simply: “What will make you thrive or fail is all about performance – delivering consistent high-quality service to our customers.’’
Another key lesson from our work in Africa is the importance of upskilling. The presence of many university and IT graduates doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to find the exact skills you need. For Tek Experts, this meant a close partnership with our sister company Elev8 to help upskill our African workforce to be ready for our client’s rigorous standards.
Learn more about the exciting future of African Tech Outsourcing
We’ve recently written an entire eBook diving deep into all of the data and trends behind the growth of ITO in Africa. Check it out to view charts, interviews, and insights from our years of working on the ground in major African tech hubs.