Investing in the Future of Tech
I got my first mobile phone — an Ericsson 628 — in 1999. It was a hand-me-down from my cousin after he upgraded to a newer model. I had grown up in a home that had a landline and thought that a mobile phone had nothing new to offer. When I started using one, I realised just how wrong I was and soon the convenience of communicating anytime anywhere became a necessity. At the time, I thought my life was made with the call, text, calculator, and alarm functions of the phone. Then along came the smartphone, and I was blown away by the power of information it brought to my fingertips, in real time. I was also fascinated by the technology and wondered how we could have possibly lived before the era of mobile communications.
The ICT revolution in Uganda was sparked in the mid-‘90s by the introduction of the country’s first mobile phone operator. For mobile data, this started the arduous journey towards digital access technologies we now enjoy including 4G and WiFi. The path has been marked by milestones that came with a lot of scepticism, ranging from Y2K and face recognition, to the threat of internet insecurity and data loss and, most recently, the 4IR technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain ‘replacing’ human beings. It has, however, been a journey that has eased communication and improved livelihoods across numerous sectors such as transportation, health, agriculture, education, and finance. From having to line up in a banking hall with a bank book tied to strict hours of operation to now being able to carry out online transactions anytime and from anywhere; or the diminishing need to travel thousands of miles in order to hold a meeting thanks to innovations like Skype, Zoom, and Whatsapp.
Uganda initially struggled with the push to embrace advances in technology, with only a few individuals who could comprehend the change that was coming. As more people have come to appreciate and depend on technology in the day to day activities of their lives, more professionals have emerged to provide the technical support and guidance needed to write policies to protect Ugandans as they use technology.
Technology companies such as Andela are therefore changing the tech ecosystem by hiring this young talent — with or without previous experience — and facilitating their learning to acquire skills to enable them to become players and contributors in the global tech market. We believe that software will power the future. As a leader, I am fully sold to this mission and I smile for every small win knowing fully well that the work that needs to get done is immense but more than optimistic that it can be done. And every day presents numerous opportunities for me to make my contribution to building a better world.
Uganda has the second youngest population in the world, with 55% of its population under 18 years, after Nigeria at 56%. Uganda is also challenged with high levels of unemployment and poverty. Andela’s mission is to advance human potential by powering today’s teams and investing in tomorrow’s leaders. We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We hire individuals who are enthusiastic about tech regardless of gender, socioeconomic or education background. We not only hire developers, we turn them into world class software engineers.
I am a scientist at heart and believe that the role of science is to present faster, easier, greater and more efficient ways to get things done. When I close my eyes and imagine a day when modern technology is applied to agriculture, transportation, communication, regulation, registration, entertainment, payment, education, and health in Uganda, I get super excited. Andela is committed to equipping the next generation of technologists and innovators in Uganda who will accelerate the advancement of their communities through technology. We believe we are on the right path, and our recent announcement of raising our fourth and largest series of funding — USD 100 million — is a testament that investors think so too. In 10 years, the key stakeholders and decision makers in the tech sector in Africa will be Andelans. With the kind of mentoring and exposure that they get during their time at Andela, they will be best placed to make decisions for Africa.