However, with the exception of a few talks and drinkups in Cape Town, we’ve not yet had much of a chance to see what’s going on in the burgeoning sub-Saharan tech scene.
We had heard that several African countries were rapidly growing new and innovative tech communities, but very little is being said about how they operate. So last month @nrrrdcore, @luckiestmonkey and I decided to check it out for ourselves.
It just so happened that a group of like-minded developers and designers from Europe called The AfricaHackTrip, were also planning a very similar trip. So we reached out to them to see if we could tag along and help out in any way. We ended up sponsoring the Hackathons and BarCamps they had organised in 4 African cities and participating in a couple of them as well.
Our first stop was Kigali, Rwanda. Here we joined the AfricaHackTrip halfway into their adventures and took part in their BarCamp and Hackathon at the Office co-working space.
We met a ton of awesome techies and had great discussions about topics ranging from Open Source Software schools to time travel. On the hackathon day we discovered how some Rwandan hardware hackers are using Arduinos to solve rural farming problems and that reliance on decent internet connectivity is a big problem for developers there. Big enough that one group created a hack project that would monitor different Rwandan wifi networks at the same time:
In Dar es Salaam the BarCamp and Hackathon events were held at the awesome Buni co-working space. Across the trip we noticed how technology hubs are working together to create vibrant communities. It wasn’t uncommon to see the manager of one hub helping out at events at another.
Dar es Salaam was just as exciting as Kigali. People discussed local online payment systems and hacked on mapping solutions for Tanzanian health initiates. At a Git & GitHub workshop that we held at the Kinu co-working space 50 people suddenly turned up – excited and ready to learn.
Once the AfricaHackTrips in Kigali and Dar es Salaam had finished, I then travelled on to Nairobi to check out the DEMO Africa conference and meet some of the inspiring startups coming out of Africa.
I also spent a day at the iHub, Nairobi’s centre for everything tech. Here I met teams from Ushahidi and BRCK, as well as Akirachix – who are taking underprivileged women from Nairobi, teaching them how to code, and mentoring them into programming jobs.
We’d like to continue supporting developer communities throughout Africa and the developing world. If you’re putting on a conference, hackathon or meet-up and you’re in search of a sponsor, please get in touch through our community page. Or, if you’re running an innovative tech space or developer-community project, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!