Monthly Archives: September 2015

Andela Alumni “Tech-Effect” on Africa’s Youth

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Andela wall art

Andela is on a mission to revolutionize Africa through technology spearheaded by Africans. This is a big challenge due to the inadequate supply of highly skilled tech talent in Africa. History informs us that successful revolutions require critical thinking, preparation, cultivation, and execution. So for Andela’s Africa tech revolution to materialize, there needs to be supply of local talent and the infrastructure to develop these talent to execute flawlessly.

Even Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is struggling with an adult literacy rate of just over 50% according to UNICEF. Although Nigeria allocates N392B ($1.9B) of the Federal budget to Education, assuming most of the money isn’t siphoned off to enrich corrupt officials, this is still disproportionately low for a country with a population size of over 170M. Moreover, (teacher) strikes at government-owned universities and colleges have become routine that many schools are forced to close for months while the students idle away. The students end up suffering the most from these strikes. And yet, these same students are supposed to be prepared to lead us into and in the future. Do you see the conundrum here?

A typical office at the Andela campus.

Some of Andela’s offices are set up like your personalized living rooms

According to a report by the UN, Africa boasts the youngest population in the world, a figure estimated at 200M aged between 15 and 24. In the same UN report titled: ‘Africa’s youth: a “ticking time bomb” or an opportunity?’ the authors point to the staggering youth unemployment rate as one of the major concerns of Economists. I don’t think you have to be an Economist to be concerned about the potential economic impact of this issue. In Nigeria alone, youth unemployment is well over 50% according to a report by McKinsey. This figure is alarming and does warrant asking if it is in fact a “ticking time bomb”. Remember Egypt?

Lunch time at the Andela campus...jollof rice, fried plantain, fried fish, and chicken was served.

Lunch time at the Andela campus (jollof rice, fried plantain, fried fish, and chicken was served that day)

Andela sees this degree of unemployment as an opportunity which is why the founders are placing big bets on Africa’s youth with their bold approach. The company’s business model, perks, and culture have been detailed in prominent publications such as Inc., Forbes, and Wired. They make for a good read. Read all of them.

Recent Andela Fellows

These fellows are taking advantage of one of the many open-work spaces

 

A cubicle free lounging room

During my last trip to Lagos earlier this month, I spent some time exploring the Andela Lagos campus with Iyinoluwa Aboyeji  Co-founder of Andela, Ebun Omoni – Director at Andela, and a group of recent fellows (Andrew, Oscar, Blessing, and Adebayo) to experience this revolution unfold firsthand.

 

 

With Ebun Omoni, Director at AndelaI left the campus feeling excited about the potential impact that current fellows could have once they leave Andela to start or join a new tech venture.

 

 

 

 

 

Andela recruits some of the brightest minds in Africa with their very selective process and puts them through an intense boot-camp that teaches a combination of computer programming and interpersonal skills before staffing these fellows on projects with clients abroad. The fellows get paid from day one of acceptance, no gimmicks. At Andela, it is much more than being just an amazing programmer, you also have to believe fully in their audacious future of Africa and take a lead role in shaping that future. Five to twenty years from now, many of these fellows will credit their time at Andela as the springboard to their successful venture. As Andela fellow’s technical expertise, business acumen, and confidence continue to accelerate, it will only be a matter of time before these fellows become tech job creators, not only for talent in Africa but talent across the world. I call this the Andela Alumni “Tech-Effect” on Africa’s youth (and the world).

With Iyi, co-founder of Andela

With Iyi, co-founder of Andela

Update as of June 16, 2016: Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, and Priscilla Chan, his wife, through their joint venture (Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC) invested $25M into Andela. This is just another validation that Andela is heading in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

Rooftop ping pong is one of the many perks at the campus

Rooftop ping pong is one of the many perks at the campus

Andela is hiring. Apply at  www.andela.co

Andela currently has locations in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya; with plans to expand across Africa in the near future.

Follow and join their discussions on Twitter: @andela

 




25 Tips To Review Before Driving In Lagos

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Lagos is the heartbeat of the economy in Nigeria which means life is fast there. It is not a place for the weak-minded. So, it’s no surprise that the driving condition in Lagos is a reflection of the city’s unique culture. As a driver and a passenger, the experience is scary but can be quite thrilling at the same time.  One thing is for sure, if you can successfully drive on the crazy streets and highways of Lagos, driving anywhere else will be effortless.

Night traffic in Lagos

Night traffic in Lagos

I consider myself a decent and polite driver; however, when I got behind the wheels in Lagos, I felt my driving style completely mutate into something I couldn’t recognize…but I knew I needed it to survive. Here are some tips I picked up as a driver and passenger.

    1. The lines demarcating the lanes are recommendations; at best suggestions. Actually they are opinions. It’s acceptable to ignore them. Just ignore them. If you see an opening, go for it, that’s your lane. In Lagos, you can create your own lane.
    2. The roads are so bad in many areas that the sight of good roads could make you want to accelerate. Go ahead and accelerate. Enjoy it while it last.
    3. Traffic lights are also suggestions. Red means go. Green means go. Yellow means go. Basically, just go. It’s always a pleasant surprise when a driver adheres to the traffic light.
    4. Try not to make awkwardly long eye contact with any of the street vendors unless your intention is to purchase something. By the way, you can buy just about anything from those vendors…even a new car!
    5. Signaling with your hand is more effective than using your signal light.
    6. The majority of traffic jams are caused by drivers slowing down to avoid multiple potholes on busy roads. #fixthebadroads
    7. Everyone is always in a hurry and impatient because their time is apparently more important than yours. Deal with it.
    8. When you cut someone off just stare them down as you do it. They will respect your audacity. And it will also make you feel like the “OGA ON TOP” of the road.
    9. It’s safe to assume other drivers do not have insurance. In the words of one of the taxi drivers that gave me a lift: “Wetin be insurance?”
    10. Be advised that the yellow taxi buses can stop anytime and anywhere so don’t follow too closely, unless you have brand new brake pads and comprehensive auto insurance.
    11. Expect pedestrians to cross the busy highways and freeways. Watch out for them.
    12. It doesn’t matter where you are going just know that there will be traffic.
    13. If you’re involved in a fender bender with a yellow bus taxi driver he would more than likely beg you to forgive him by lying flat on the ground. Forgive him and move on, it’s not worth the argument back and forth.
    14. Keep one hand on the steering wheel and the other hand next to the horn.
    15. Honking your horn is part of the driving culture in Lagos. It’s just a convenient way to let other drivers know that you do not trust their decision-making skills.
    16. The only person to trust on the road is you. Remind other drivers and pedestrians you don’t trust them by honking your horn loud and proud.
    17. Expect to get into screaming battles with pedestrians trying to cross the busy roads. Be careful because they may put juju on you.
    18. If you have any paraphernalia related to the Nigerian Police, Army, Air Force, or Military, then make sure it is displayed visibly for others to see. It will help you bypass those random police checkpoints.
    19. There is nothing random about a random check by the police. The police officers are skilled at sizing you up as you pull up. If you do get pulled over, make sure you have some lose cash (you know why) or a lot of time to spend arguing back and forth with them about random things like showing your permit for tinted windows.
    20. Non-injury accidents are taken care of at the scene of the accident. In essence, there is no veering off the road. Both drivers would more than likely step out of their vehicles and engage in a screaming match in the middle of traffic.
    21. Okada drivers always feel they have the right of way even when it’s obvious they don’t.
    22. Always lock your doors and wind up your windows as you drive, especially when stuck in stop-and-go traffic at night.
    23. One-ways are more like two or three ways. If the road can fit three cars why restrict it to just one car when three cars can go multiple directions? The unapologetic perpetrators are the Okada and Keke drivers.
    24. Okadas are like water. They find voids in traffic, unassigned lanes, sidewalks, and just flow through. Watch out for them.
    25. Many drivers liter. Watch out for trash flying out of vehicles in front of you.

 


An Okada driver transporting 2 passengers on a cloudy day in Lagos

An Okada driver transporting 2 passengers on a cloudy day in Lagos

What other tips would you add to the list above?

3 Months is a “Short-Long” Time

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My heart is heavy with mixed emotions. I can’t believe three months have come and gone by so fast. I remember when I arrived in Joburg three months ago and thought three months was such a long time, only to get to the end and realize it’s such a short time. Basically, it’s a “short-long” time.

Deep thinking at the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, SA

Deep thinking at the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town

Living and working in South Africa for the past three months has been one of the best experiences of my life. From meeting with senior executives at South Africa’s biggest companies, to writing case studies till the wee morning hours, to facilitating in front of some of the brightest professionals in Kenya, to tracking lion prides on safari trips, to driving along the coast in Cape Town, to petting cheetahs, to jamming house music at some of the liveliest clubs in Jozi, to dancing in restaurants in Nairobi and the beaches in Maputo…so many special memories.  This is one of those experiences that I will continue to draw inspiration from, years from now.

As I reflect on the many lasting and memorable moments, my heart is filled with joy, thanks and satisfaction. In just three months, colleagues have become close friends; handshakes have turned into strategic partnerships; ideas have turned into workshops; and ‘hellos’ have turned into ‘you will be missed dearly’.

Chilling with a Cheetah at a Farm in Pretoria

Chilling with a Cheetah at a Farm in Pretoria

Special thanks and a big HOWZIT! to the BTS Africa team, you all were integral in making this experience what it is. You welcomed me with open arms and made me feel right at home. This is not goodbye but see you all soon.

I highly encourage every young professional to do a rotation program in Africa. If the company you work for currently do not offer it, create it and volunteer to be part of the pilot program.

Next stop: Lagos, Nigeria! #lasgidi

Next next stop: San Francisco, California.

I can’t wait to reunite with family, friends, co-workers, and my one.

Dancing Down Memory Lane at Freshlyground’s Concert

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Freshlyground was one of the many talented African bands that I really enjoyed sharing with the world during my college years as the host of African Extravaganza, the premier African radio show at the University of Texas at Austin, on KVRX 91.7 FM. The first song I heard from them was titled “Doo Be Doo” and I was immediately hooked to their unique sound and the lead singer’s voice. Their music is an experience that takes you on a journey from the rough streets of Soweto to the fancy orchestra halls in Cape Town. It’s very difficult to find a South African who doesn’t enjoy or can relate to their music. The reason being they bring more than great tunes to the airwaves, they also represent the evolved history of South Africa. During the South Africa 2010 world cup, they teamed up with Shakira to sing the very popular world cup theme song, “This Time for Africa“. The lead singer, Zolani, has such a unique and sophisticated voice that can quickly get you to dance without care in one minute, and in the next minute, make you cry as you slow dance with your love.

When I was getting ready to move to South Africa from the US, I made a wish list of things I would like to accomplish during my three months in Joburg (aka Johannesburg lol) and it should be of no surprise that going to a Freshlyground concert was one of the top things on the list. On August 30th 2015, I was fortunate to check it off my list.

I knew they would perform most of their newer songs. But as I waited for them to get on stage at Carnival City, I hoped they would perform “Doo Be Doo” so I could dance down memory lane. When the song finally came on, I was elated. The live performance of the song quickly turned into a party on stage as you can see from the video above. If you’re passionate about music, then you know that a true indication of a great band is their live performance. Freshlyground owned the stage and received a dancing ovation from the audience throughout their set.

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I highly recommend their music and if you can, go to their concerts; you will not be disappointed. Their music is available on all the popular music platforms like iTunes, Spotify and Pandora; look them up and enjoy the party.