Some of us would love to be able to code someday, in fact almost everyone of us fantasize about it, we have an inner longing to be among those intelligent pros out there who seem to know every single ins and outs of a computer. We love to be able to type those magical combinations of words and tags and then all of a sudden our computer springs into action doing the unimaginable. We are really passionate about information technology but somehow find it difficult to read a programming manual and grasp the message. It all seems to be too incomprehensible for mortals like us and to top it all, you discover finding a skilled and qualified instructors who can break it down for you proving abortive. It seems even the instructors themselves are having trouble figuring things out too. Let’s face it, it is true there are big I.T training schools out there; NIIT, New Horizon, Aptech etc. but what can we say have been their input so far? With huge wads of cash paid for training, how many quality programmers have really come out of these centers?
From what we hear, most students often end up leaving frustrated, bored and quitting their once cute dream in pursuit of something else easier to follow with a low bar to entry. And this often has nothing to do with the seriousness of these students but that they lacked true mentors and proper training- they couldn’t get the right motivation, course structure, comprehensive training they were looking for.
Now this is a serious issue for a country like Nigeria interested in catching up with their counterparts abroad in I.T, who have a working population of versatile individuals proficient in different programming practice and software development techniques. These countries are able to come out with great applications daily, awesome websites and solving unique problems with innovative solutions.
Countries like Belarus, Estonia etc. (which one would consider as small countries and not among the big leagues of the world) produce top quality programmers and start enviable IT companies. For example BitDefender, one of the top and highly rated among PC Antivirus Softwares, is a product of programmers from Estonia.
Sometime ago, stories of an app named Popcorn Time began circulating around the internet, described as the NetFlix for pirates. It is able to stream latest movies in real time on your computer, phones and tablets, all in HD without any need to download the whole file into your system like it’s done on Bittorrent, another piracy based app.
With the app, which is a lot like NetFlix (but far sexier in User interface and technology) you are able to choose the movies you want to watch, click play, give it a minute or two to load and you are watching your movie right away with virtually no hitches, provided you have a working internet connection. Argentinian hobbyists developed this app, and it was not for profit.
While this is not to promote piracy, it sure demonstrates an example of creative work and perfectly highlights the level of skill prevalent in these other nations. Today, if for example our country should experience a cyber-attack from an enemy country or an unknown state actor, we wouldn’t know how to respond because we lack the technical know-how, such talent and trained personnel are not groomed in our shores.
As a nation interested in tackling issues of employment among of her youths, perhaps it’s best if we engage more on empowerment programs. And we do this by increasing the standard and quality of our institutions, schools, vocational centers etc. For example teachers who are to teach technology should first be able to build technology and not just have vague theoretical knowledge or idea about technology but able to translate it into workable solutions, comprehensible form for his students to understand- the best way to learn something is by actively practicing it.
As far as we know, there are still no hard core developer in the country yet, except perhaps they are unknown to the programming community in Nigeria or simply non-practicing professionals. In the African continent, we know South Africa can boast of a good number of top-level developers who can take on advanced software projects besides the usual custom software services. And the quality of their professionals and startups is recognized beyond the continent too. Oracle said to have acquired an enterprise cloud startup, Nimbula from South Africa. India is good too, they already have a robust history in I.T practice and a decent software industry. Israel is exceptional (and on par with US in innovation and most times even better). Israel is currently number one in cyberwarfare technologies and Startups, their R&D work is second to none.
These are all examples of small nations doing big things in I.T, creating jobs and building their economy through her workforce. It is a refreshing to know that in the world of I.T or software, you don’t really need much to be able to start building something. Lots of things are free, open source and doesn’t require the use and acquisition of hard/raw materials like you do in the physical world. All you basically need is a laptop, an internet connection, and a development software e.g IDEs (visual studio, Netbeans), database servers etc. and you are set to create that miracle app that you can pitch to a company or the public.
Now after having all these basic things to your arsenal, you are left with one challenge and the most important of all- do you know how to code? or you hope to outsource it to developers outside the country, well it’s cool if you have the capital to do so else, as a developer it’s up to you to build your dreams, just like Facebook started out. This is why Nigeria needs better training services in information technology so that any individual with a dream can start bring it to reality. Finding our own solutions by ourselves, coding our own applications and technologies by our local programmers can change things in a very big way. For example we can safely assume that web apps like Konga.com, Iroko tv, Nairabet, etc were likely not developed by Nigerian programmers. Now this is not because we don’t value our own developers very much but rather because Nigerians haven’t yet proved to be highly competent in such critical projects.
I mean it’s easy for anyone to put an app together and get things running but having a truly rock solid web app requires the expertise of coders with thorough knowledge, beyond rudimentary level who can anticipate problems and create new solutions. As an entrepreneur, you do not want to have yourself waking up everyday to one issue or the other or eventually having to shut down your venture because nothing works anymore. You hear of cases where apps fail because the whole architecture of the program is flawed, it isn’t scaling to bigger demands, can’t handle much stress or failing basic security tests and threats.
On a final note, we end by saying Nigeria is capable of having its own army of thoroughbred developers but first we need to start from the necessary basics and know our tools as much as we know the back of our hands. This is the big secret! So as a person interested in becoming an advanced coder or software guru, the advice is don’t quit your love for programming just yet, you just need the right mentor or as a self-taught person, the right mindset. Buy online videos, go to codecademy.com, code.org, visit netbeans.org and run their tutorials, read code magazines and newsletters, follow tweets and start trying your hands at something- you just might never know how far you’ll go.
Seek true knowledge. Avoid shortcuts.
Yes you can code!
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