(Co-Written with Corneil du Plessis)
Our economy is relatively well developed compared to the rest of the continent, and we have good access to the internet--though it is overpriced.
Our challenge is two-fold: First, getting enough young people into software development is a problem.
The South African education system is failing to produce enough math and science students.
Those that do get qualified can also easily find work overseas.
The second challenge is that this shortage of skills means that the developers around are relatively well paid and in general don't feel driven to innovate or create new software like our counterparts in East Africa.
So our entrepreneurial or start-up culture is quite weak.
But there is an ongoing, concerted effort to create a creative, innovative tech culture in South Africa.
This has been spurred on by fact that the economy is not growing so much anymore and even those “comfortable developers” are starting to feel the need to be a bit more creative.
Android is a great example of an African Success.
Android’s open source nature means that manufacturers are able to offer cheap, yet feature-rich smart phones at affordable prices, which in turn provides a market for mobile application developers
Android has given Java a shot in the arm in Africa.
In general, PC penetration in Africa is low, but the penetration of cell phones is very high.
In South Africa for example, the mobile phone penetration rate is over 100%.
This provides a mass market for developers to target their applications at; something which is not available for desktop applications.
Currently, most of the phones are feature or grey screen phones but Android allows for the production of a range of phones available, at different price points but with advanced features such as GPS and accelerometers.
In addition the open nature of the platform and its eco-system means that it has appeal for Africans who are weary of being tied to a specific vendor.
As free software Java has the potential to help Africa become a creator and exporter of technology rather than a mere user or importer of technology from the developed world.
Building system on a technology stacks that require repatriation of license fees will mean Africa is always dependent on the developed world for the core building blocks to any solution.
We would always have to wait for innovation to happen in the developed world before we could move forward with any solution.
With Java we can build our own solutions and innovate ourselves without waiting for the rest of the world.
Java User Groups, known affectionately as JUGs, are meeting sites where developers of Java and other technologies can exchange ideas, learn from each other, and find opportunities. The developer community in Africa is diverse and vibrant, and growing fast with more than 30 Java User Groups spread across the continent. The Goal of a JUG is:
1)Showcase the different countries to assist to mutual understanding.
2)Entice International sponsors to invest in Africa.
3)Attract and grow a new generation of developers
4)Identify the current challenges and opportunities facing African developers
So dont delay join a JUG today: