The Ordeals Of A Self-taught Developer In Nigeria
The difficulties developers face in Nigeria
When you pray for the rain, you gotta prepare for the mud
– Denzel Washington
If you want to read about the ordeals of a self-taught developer in Nigeria, then you gotta be prepared for a long read. But I will try my best to keep this as short as possible.
I will be discussing the ordeals based on two major headings: electricity and employment.
"Epileptic" is an understatement in describing the power situation in Nigeria. No one would say there's no power supply, but the situation is worse than epileptic.
When I started coding, I and the CS graduate I was learning from would always go to the next compound to peep whether "light" (that's what we call electricity in Nigeria) is in the other street so we could go to an open pavilion there to charge our gadgets. That was because they only did give us "light" during midnight then. And between 6:00 - 7:00 a.m., it's gone. Presently, there has been a week we get electricity access for 1 hour every day. At times, we see none in 72 hours, and some other times, we use it for 12 consecutive hours, and then it's gone for another 72 hours.
How do we get around this?
Some are rich enough to get inverters or large power banks, but a lot of us charge our gadgets from the Aboki men (journeymen from the North). They charge ₦200 ($0.49) for a laptop and ₦50 ($0.12) for a phone. At times, they don't allow charging of laptops at all because they believe it consumes a lot of power.
There are places where there is steady access to electricity. I was once in such a place. But believe me, most of the residents have prepaid meters installed. In my current location, there's no prepaid meter, so the discos come every month and would deny one a total access to electricity on refusal to pay for a power not consumed in the right amount.
Nigeria is a certificate-based society. Not only that, no one would employ you in the tech space unless you have 2-4 years of working experience, only to be paid between ₦30,000 ($72) and ₦130,000 ($315) as a starter.
The average self-taught developer has no CS degree or Bootcamp certificate, hence the difficulty in getting a developer job.
I have an experience with a firm I won't name which I will share.
I saw an opening for a Fullstack Developer. Immediately, I applied and was invited for an interview. The "interviewers" were impressed with my portfolio and at a time, they told me to stop sharing my live projects as I was just throwing all I have in. I know how to use the tools and also the platforms. We started negotiating salary. When they kept asking what I would like to take, I told them they surely have a structure and a package for such a role. In addition, I told them they should be paying what's fair and equitable judging by the standard of living in such a big city – my way of knowing whether I would work with them or not.
When they got back to me, all they could offer was ₦30,000 (that's $72.5) and a single-room apartment for a full-stack developer. It was then I knew that's the end of me with them.
It doesn't end there. They know I have the skills and capability, because they didn't just see my projects, we had a lot of talking too. So they have to have a hard copy of my CV with them. When I gave them my CV, they discovered my degree is not in CS or any other related course, I never attended any Bootcamp too. And then they said, "we hope you didn't learn from all these online courses and all". They want a full-stack developer who must not learn from Udemy and YouTube. "You should resume immediately though". I said "Okay". Again, it was confirmed that's the start and the end of me with them. I waved bye and never returned.
The Nigerian freelance developer who is not on Fiverr or Upwork experiences a lot of difficulties receiving money from clients. Paypal only takes our money but won't let us receive money and buy with the accounts unless we consult some workarounds. Payoneer as an alternative doesn't have a solid base here yet.
Laptops are becoming unaffordable in Nigeria. Believe me a lot code on phones. Code editors, terminal, and API tester apps all on a smartphone. At the beginning of the year, I recovered from a serious kidney condition and was in need of a laptop. My family raised a considerable amount, but all I could still get was a 4GB RAM laptop. I thought
npm start would not take 6-10 minutes anymore but it remains like that.
Despite all these challenges, the Nigerian developers, self-taught or college-taught remain resilient and are making exploits all around the world. Look out for us. We'll get things done because we always find a way out of difficulties. It's like George Weah asking for a chance out of the ghetto to prove himself to the world. Arsene Wenger gave him that chance and he became the best footballer in the world.
I didn't come up with this to draw pity from anyone but to let you know there are Nigerians who don't believe in politics or "yahoo yahoo" (scamming over the internet) to succeed. There are lots of us channeling our smartness to the right course the world needs to look out for.
If you're a Nigerian seeing this, I know you have much more to say. Let the world know your situation in the comments.
Thank you for reading. You can follow me on Twitter, where I tweet and engage in topics related to web development.
This article was initially published on dev.