African computer programming school attracting strong interest

By Seth Onyango, bird story agency

As demand for top tech talent booms worldwide, AltSchool, which describes itself as a premier online academy, is attracting wannabee software engineers and coding mavens not only from across the continent but also from beyond Africa’s shores.

Africans seeking to kick-start a career in software engineering can now enrol at AltSchool Africa, a digital campus offering an elaborate curriculum in computer programming.

Already, AltSchool has received more than 8,000 applications for its software engineering programme which starts in April – from 19 countries.

As an indication of the marketability of online education, many of those applications have come from five countries outside Africa.

While the tuition is offered free of up-front payments (payment is made later), the foreign applications also serve to highlight the growing quality of education offered by Africa’s learning institutions.

The Nigerian-based firm employs an income-sharing agreement (ISA), so when students complete the programme and get hired, they’re expected to pay $500, which can be paid in full, or in instalments.

Payment is broken down into payments of $50 a month over 10 months or $100 over a period of five months.

“Because we are big believers in not letting cost stand in the way of knowledge, you can enrol for our diploma programme at no initial cost. We however have an income sharing agreement where you will be required to pay a percentage of your post-AltSchool salary over an agreed period of time,” AltSchool posted on its website.

AltSchool was founded by Adewale Yusuf, Akintunde Sultan, and Opeyemi Awoyemi in October 2021 and has hauled in $1 million to sponsor students, from tech and music stars, including Flutterwave co-founder and CEO, Olugbenga “GB” Agboola; Paystack co-founder and CEO Shola Akinlade; and music stars Falz and Ajebutter22.

The AltSchool Africa programme employs a blended learning approach consisting of virtual instructor-led sessions as well as self-paced learning modules.

Learners can attain a certificate or diploma, the latter running for one year.

“There will be classes for the first nine months and you will be placed in a company for the last three months (internship) to gain experience,” the website explains.

Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Botswana top the list of applicants seeking knowledge in computer programming.

According to its founders, AltSchool is a “school that is not fully a school” hence the prefix ‘alt’ for an alternative school.

The institution’s launch in April comes on the back of growing pandemic-induced demand for internet and tech solutions for a variety of sectors in Africa, which is experiencing fast-paced growth in its internet economy.

According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Africa’s internet economy is tipped to reach $180 billion by 2025, accounting for 5.2% of the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP). By 2050, the projected potential contribution could reach $712 billion, 8.5% of the continent’s GDP.

Driving this growth is a combination of increased access to faster and better quality internet connectivity, a rapidly expanding urban population, a growing tech talent pool, a vibrant start-up ecosystem, and Africa’s commitment to creating the world’s largest single market under the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Figures from e-Conomy Africa 2020 report by Google and IFC show Africa currently has nearly 700,000 professional developers.

“Tech talent in Africa is at a historical peak and continues to rise annually. There are 690,000 professional developers across Africa with more than 50% concentrated in five key African countries: Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa,” reads the report in part.

/bird story agency