20 November 2018

Rwanda: Andela Begins Training the Next Generation of Software Engineers

Andela has started the process of training and developing the next generation of outstanding software developers in Rwanda where its Pan-African hub will be based, its new Country Director has said.

Clément Uwajeneza, who was appointed a few weeks ago to lead Andela in Rwanda, told the press on Tuesday that the firm had started its Rwanda-based pan-African operations.

"Our goal is to develop a minimum of 500 Rwandan developers in five years," he said.

Uwajeneza added that the firm is already conducting the third phase of its application process with the first two cycles having attracted nearly 2000 applicants.

On the first round, Andela scaled down to 52 applicants who are currently going through a two-week boot camp, after which a certain number of participants will be selected to go through a six-month training programme.

According to Andela, the application and selection process is a continuous exercise until the targeted goal of training over 500 developers is achieved.

Andela, which is a U.S. training and recruitment company, wants to produce between 500 and 1000 world-class software developers in Rwanda within the first five years of their operations.

Rwanda, being Andela's pan-African hub, will attract developers from other countries where the firm does not operate. Some of them include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The world-class developers the firm wants to produce are those with a great deal of knowledge and a broad range of specific programming languages that can solve some of the world's biggest problems.

The company says it selects the best and brightest talents.

"It is really difficult to join our programme. It requires discipline, hard work, intelligence and it requires soft skills like communication. For you to join there is a good number of requirements that give us a certain indication that you will be highly productive and epic software developer," Uwajeneza said.

Participants are equipped with a wide array of skills, including computer science education, programming, and software training. These are skills that they believe are increasingly becoming important.

Uwajeneza highlighted that there is currently a shortage of those skills, giving his own experience while leading RwandaOnline, a technology company behind Irembo.

"One of the greatest challenges we faced during my time while building Irembo platform was the lack of skilled software engineers. We relied on those from India and other countries," he noted, adding that their mission is to now develop future technology leaders by tapping into that gap of software engineers and a pool of available talent.

The people who Andela trains are connected to companies like Microsoft, IBM, KPMG, PwC, MTN, GT Bank, Access Bank, and Guinness, just to mention but a few.

To make sure that the people they train today are more productive in the future, the Country Director indicated that there are about 300 performance indicators that the firm tracks across the learning cycle.

There is also another condition the company sets: All fellows must stay with Andela for a minimum of four years.

To develop world-class software engineers to a level where they become highly-skilled, the country manager said, it requires investment in the tools they use, the infrastructure, learning content, and the technologies that help them provide learning at scale.

Andela claims that it could cost them between $30 million and $50 million in the next five years.

What Andela is doing in Rwanda, however, is not a non-profit exercise. The firm generates revenues through the work its developers do upon completing their initial six-month training.

Though the company does not disclose its revenues, the calibre of investment it has received suggests many see the scale of the opportunity.

The company is backed by leading global companies like Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Google Ventures, and Spark Capital.

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