DEV Community

Cover image for A beginner’s journey into software development in Nigeria.
Opeyemi Stephen
Opeyemi Stephen

Posted on

A beginner’s journey into software development in Nigeria.

No one really writes about the pain involved in learning to code in Nigeria and I don’t know why.

First of all, peep the the cover picture on this post, it represents an art-work for a song by a music artiste in Nigeria titled “Thunder Fire You” by Ric Hassani. Literal meaning...may thunder strike a person dead.

It was sung as a song for a heartbroken man but I put that up there because there’s a lot of forces designed to frustrate the average young Nigerian mind by the Government.

I started my developer journey, no prior computer science degree, delving into a new career because well, there are simply not enough jobs. I said what I said.

And now, it has only gotten worse...

  • Laptop prices have doubled and are now tripling due to the weak strength of the Naira against the dollar. Some developer advocates like Hack Sultan, Prosper Otemuyiwa and Adora Nwodo have been doing their best to help the Nigerian community but for how long? Trust the government to try and take the plaudits when a Nigerian dev builds a world class product tho.

  • Data!!!! A successful developer needs to learn to know how to ask the right questions on Google and StackOverflow yeah?

But you see,in order to use Google, you actually have to be connected to the internet...Now the average Nigerian earns 2000 naira daily and the least internet plans go for half that price!
Funny story? Many people do not even earn that...tell me again how it’s supposed to be easy to just be in the “zone” to code?

The way I see it, to use YouTube and the plenty resources available online for self-study, you’ve got to have access to the internet and how are you supposed to cope with spending at least 12-20 thousand naira on data monthly when you haven’t even started getting paid? And to plunge you into further depression, you’re given an option of “borrowing” data...sighs.

  • Now to the most annoying part...EPILEPTIC...nah scratch that...NO POWER SUPPLY!!! Paint this scenario in your head...

Young and defiant newbie dev who is trying their best to scale through, has been able to get a laptop, buy/borrow data and joined a free boot camp or tried to do some self study. This young developer wants to maximize their time and draws up a study schedule so they can also get their tasks and assignments submitted early enough.
There’s a problem tho...”PHCN”(the corrupt organization in charge of supplying power) only gives them electricity 3 hours(phased irregularly) daily and coupled with that, they still have to “share” light in their street because the transformer is not powerful enough to supply the 12 streets using it.
Their street uses the epileptic power for two days and there’s a total blackout for the third day.
In total they have +/- 6 hours of a possible 72hours to power their devices, get studies in and also do their assignments. Then you find them at Bet9ja shops (sports betting kiosks) trying to charge and learning to code with street kings(agbero and urchins) shouting in the background trying to stake bets on virtual football games.

That is just a peek into the life of most newbie Nigerian developers. I just thought you should know. I deliberately excluded some parts because it gets ugly as you go. Feel free to add your experiences and draw strength from each other. Selah.

Despite all this, we still do our best yeah? But think of the talents being wasted because they do not have the psychological capacity to cope with these kinds of problems...just think about it for a minute?

Top comments (112)

Collapse
 
tracycod3r profile image
Tracy Nuwagaba

All the above happens in Uganda, however on top of that we pay taxes for the internet. If you don't pay internet tax which is going to be increased soon, no internet services 🤦‍♀️.

It takes God's grace to be an African youth.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

Let’s not even get started on the fact that as soon as you make it either on or off the shores of the country, the government comes with pomp and pageantry to say “that’s a product of our nation”

I think it’s very ridiculous to pay internet taxes and worse of all they still want to increase it?!!

Collapse
 
garrett profile image
Garrett / G66 / megabyteGhost

I know Hackers for Charity is trying to help but...it's definitely a struggle.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

Yes they are. There are a host of other people trying to help too but in a country that has over 100 million unemployed youths, the change is not very visible. We can only keep trying Garrett. The African youth wants to thrive but there’s a lot of limitations.

Collapse
 
ssenoga profile image
ssenoga

I hear you tracy.. It sucks to be an african youth in countries like uganda

Collapse
 
brandonwallace profile image
brandon_wallace • Edited

For those that do not know earning 2000 Naira per day is about $5 dollars US.

2,000.00 Nigerian Nairas =

5.25 US Dollars

@resourcefulmind I hope that people in Nigeria know about Freecodecomp.org . That is a great place to learn a great deal about development without the charge of a bootcamp.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

That’s usually one of the first places we start learning from. I am certain Freecodecamp plays a great role in the growth of every young Nigerian developer.

Collapse
 
horlamide_jay profile image
Jubril Olamide

That very true. But we still need the internet to access this free resource freecodecamp.

Thread Thread
 
ribab profile image
Richard Barella Jr.

not necessarily. the entirity of freecodecamp is opensource. I haven't tried to do this, but I believe you can clone the entire repo and host it yourself.

Thread Thread
 
ribab profile image
Richard Barella Jr.
Thread Thread
 
horlamide_jay profile image
Jubril Olamide

Wow I never knew about this. Thanks @richard Barella Jr.

Thread Thread
 
ribab profile image
Richard Barella Jr.

I set this up on my own laptop and made an article on how to do so codingwithricky.com/2021/05/15/fre...

Collapse
 
realsammy profile image
Realsammy

Freecodecamp is actually not free in Nigeria, you need to buy power and data to access the resource.

Collapse
 
Sloan, the sloth mascot
Comment deleted
Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

I can totally resonate. I’ll send some openings your way and if you want I could teach you how to optimize your LinkedIn too

Collapse
 
mzkenna profile image
mzkenna

Hello Opeyemi , so well written and here we are with our minds made up we will keep fighting till it is bright and we reach our goal, yes we are Spartans..... I'd like to learn how to optimize my LinkedIn pleaae

Collapse
 
dammyreginal profile image
dammyreginal

Yes, I will apappreciate

Collapse
 
kwennb profile image
KwennB

Thank you for putting this out there. I sincerely hope that we that are grooming ourselves now, would scale through faster, so we can help newbies who cannot really assist themselves (Financially and otherwise).

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

That’s one of my long-term goals. I want to make sure all we have to do is look for talent. They won’t have to worry about other factors like having electricity or buying data and other things which slowly but surely messes up the mind.

It’s a collective effort though and one person cannot do it all but we can start by touching lives in our own little spaces.

Collapse
 
kwennb profile image
KwennB

Yes we can.

Thread Thread
 
Sloan, the sloth mascot
Comment deleted
 
brainiacm profile image
Fox_Coder508

Sir, kindly refrain from posting your contact details publically. It can be used against you.

Thread Thread
 
kwennb profile image
KwennB

Hey segun. Text me on the slack channel. Sorry for replying this late.
And please remove your contact details here
It’s not too safe.
Cheers

Thread Thread
 
segunbol profile image
segunbol

Great... But I don't know the slack channel. How do. I go about that

Thread Thread
 
segunbol profile image
segunbol

Thank You..

Thread Thread
 
kwennb profile image
KwennB

Okay
Add me on Twitter
@kwennb

Thread Thread
 
segunbol profile image
segunbol

Did that already, Extramortal_segs

Collapse
 
beitist profile image
Sebastian Stüwe

Very good of you to bring this up, Stephen. Please share your successes and challenges more frequently to make people aware!

I lived and worked in Liberia for the last ten years, and I know your struggle first-hand.

Setting up charities is one thing, but I doubt the impact can reach 100 Million Nigerian youth (or West African youth - even more!). Each one help one is a beginning we all can achieve, and then take it from there.

Technologically: try to get hands on a solar panel. Laptops don't consume much. Could be worth the investment. I can help you calculate the right size.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

I really appreciate your kind words. Maybe we can put this into practice. I’m already thinking dev spaces. I’m only but one person but a space powered by solar panels with access to the internet where developers can always come to learn and build stuff looks exciting to me. Now if we have one of such spaces in every town, it could harmonize local developers too. Just a thought in my head

Collapse
 
beitist profile image
Sebastian Stüwe

Let's get in touch about brainstorming ideas! After 10+ years in the NGO-world, I am less a believer in anything free than I was before - but I could imagine combining coder-spaces with some for-profit projects, (free?) classes and maybe a Rachel-pi-like edition of FCC (provided they won't mind) could be something that would work, be resourceful and focused.

Thread Thread
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

I’m open to this. My Twitter is attached to my profile. You can always send me a DM and then we can build a viable plan

Thread Thread
 
beitist profile image
Sebastian Stüwe

I'll do so tomorrow morning!

Collapse
 
justicekazzy profile image
kazzy

I think there's a place like this in Asaba. My sister traveled there sometime in 2019 and she found a space that welcomed programmers and developers.
It was more of a hub where you could sit and charge your devices. Also they had free Wi-Fi which when coupled with the serene environment, made her never want to leave.
Environments like these are hard to come by in Nigeria. A space to learn with some basic amenities provided.
No one would grow from there and not want to give back in the long run.

Thread Thread
 
tijani0826 profile image
Tijani Ibrahim

That's if they don't start calling it yahoo boys spot. And then one day the police will come parading them or worse put them in cell for offenses the didn't commit

Thread Thread
 
justicekazzy profile image
kazzy

Honestly, I can picture that happening.

Collapse
 
colinchidiogo profile image
Colin Chidiogo • Edited

Reading this nearly made me shed tears, because it's what I'm suffering right now, trying to learn to code.
I have about 11 apps to develop, most of them is aimed at fighting poverty, as it's what I've been in all my life.

Around September 2019, I was wondering what one thing to do to improve my life drastically, when a tiny small voice said "LEARN CODING!".

I checked up coding and found out it's what I love doing as I'm very crazy about tech, which also has great potentials for me. In fact, I already have 3 apps ideas then, but I never thought about developing or coding them.

I kept them thinking "if I get rich(which I don't think I will), I will get some Indians to develop them for me".

But after hearing that intuition, I decided to get into software development.

Then comes the challenges. No one in my family believes in my dreams, they call my pursuit, stupid, being lazy, sitting in the village and building useless castles in the air.

Rich men(mostly traders) here in Anambra, I've gone to for support think I'm wasting time, deceiving myself, chasing this white men childish nonsense that is far bigger than me.

The struggle is real and horrible.

I don't know where to get ₦400,000 I need to get;

  1. A table.
  2. A 1KVA Solar Gen
  3. A laptop
  4. A tablet (to study my ebooks)

I have been trying to save it up since 2019 but I have not reached anywhere.

My little phone accessories trading business, I started after 11years of job search and got nothing, can only just feed me.

Everyday time passes and I sit here looking at my app UI designs, I did on my phone and shake my head.

I use to code on my note book while reading ebooks on my phone but it's so cumbersome and tiring, that I got feed up. That's where I got familiar with HTML and CSS.

I have begged so much for support on Twitter but no one gives a fuck. No one cares. I don't blame them, everyone is passing through hell fire in here.

In my area we see power 3 times a month, once overnight, others maybe 1 hour during the day, that's all.

I'm almost 45yrs, my eyesight is gradually failing me just as my enthusiasm is gradually weaning.

The worst is that a new Intel Celeron (I'm not sure Celeron is powerful enough for coding) laptop is around ₦200,000, thanks to our very weakened useless naira.

I wish I wasn't born into this country(Jungle). I wish I was born in USA. Those guys are lucky, I watch their YouTube videos, see their fancy Coding Setups and salivate.

Those guys are really very lucky, but quick to tell us there's nothing like luck, that's it's all hard work. Nonsense!

If they come to Nigeria and see real hard work will they talk?

Imagine sitting on a bench, with your legs itching of mosquitoes bites, trying to force yourself to study, struggling to figure out the concepts and learn coding, in hot humid very uncomfortable tropical weather(heat), with sweat trickling down your face and every few seconds, a mosquito would buzz pass your ears.

Men, the struggle is fucking real. I'm in it right now. "NO RETREAT NO SURRENDER"! I MUST GET IT OR I DIE TRYING!

But not everyone in Nigeria is passing through hell trying to get into software development. Some are lucky and got great supports from their well to do families and friends or from their jobs. Unfortunately, I'm not such.

But we keep pushing.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR GIVING US THE OPPORTUNITY TO VENT OFF OUR FRUSTRATIONS A LIL BIT.

You can reach me on Twitter @colinchidiogo .

Thanks. Remain blessed y'all.

Collapse
 
rishitkhandelwal profile image
Rishit Khandelwal

Now after reading all this, I feel extremely grateful for whatever I have available. I can't imagine my day without accessing the internet or using electricity. I hope the best happens for you. 😀

Collapse
 
colinchidiogo profile image
Colin Chidiogo

Feel grateful! Feel very grateful! Because you people are very lucky.

But we keep pushing, till death.

We ain't got no options.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

We sure hoped so too. Realistically, we know it won’t with the present crop of leaders. It’s left to us to succeed and bring others forth.

Collapse
 
tijani0826 profile image
Tijani Ibrahim

Me I am cut up between trying to feed my family, do some coding. Then I ventured into teaching, ah, I am already tired.

Collapse
 
colinchidiogo profile image
Colin Chidiogo

Hold on bro! Keep moving! No matter how small! We ain't got no where else to go.

Collapse
 
leoloopy profile image
Leoloopy

This is a very short and detailed story of the newbie dev journey here in Nigeria which is really disheartening. The environment is set up to make you fail in whatever endeavors you want to do, still you find determined individual scale through all the hurdles. But in the process of finding the ropes, the issue of data and power is the two biggest hurdle you will face. I started this journey 2020 immediately after I finished my degree last year, it has been frustrating but the "why" is the only energy pushing me not to give up. One of the way I was able to overcome the data challenge was by downloading PDF books. After each chapter, I practice all the syntax and solve the exercise on my PC then I move to the next chapter, bit by bit you'll gain more than you can imagine. PDF books are free and reduces the money you'll spend on data for watching YouTube videos or online courses. I've read about four different textbooks on JavaScript alone which has really helped me along the way. In reading those big books and absorbing at least 70% of the information, it means you've already established for yourself a solid foundation which will help you to grab the application of some syntax when watching YouTube videos or other online courses. For the power, I was lucky to have a system that can hold 5 hours battery power when fully charged, so I practice on it everyday for at least 4 hours, which so far has been so fruitful. Then after I've read all what is to be read. I only need constant practise, with the help of vidmate I will download those YouTube videos so I can watch anytime I feel like going back to it. Fortunately for me, I am a graphic designer, so I have the skills to earn some extra cash, which I later used to sort out some bills. In all, we just have to find a way, that's the Nigerian spirit...the government are not ready to do nothing, they're only interested in your milestone achievement, the shameless idiot will call you for pictures after you've arrived. And that does not mean they won't later enact policies to frustrate new tech start-ups. Coding is hard, but the Nigeria government will make it an hellish journey. Stupid set of old fools.

Collapse
 
oyindamolatomo2 profile image
Oyindamola Tomoye

Very apt description. Its like I am reading about myself. Been learning to code for data science for nearly 6 months now. Progress has been slow because I'm unemployed and have no access to constant electricity or funds for the internet.

Really, the govt can do better in this country

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

You know the truth Oyindamola...the government are not bothered. They only come to claim you when you are “blown”...from Anthony Joshua to Israel Adesanya to Kamaru Usman to Blessing Okagbare...the list is endless and I’m only talking sports ooo. We all just have to find a way. And you know we will because we are fighters.

Collapse
 
james_palermo_bc208e463e4 profile image
James Palermo

What is the freedom of speech situation like on the ground in Nigeria? Are you guys able to try to organize and combine your voices, maybe reach out to some foreign education NGO'S? Is that risky for ya'll? I'm curious about how trying to set up a charity that supplies chromebooks or something to students would be in Nigeria.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

I don’t know how to answer this. Let me put it this way, there is freedom of speech, however, freedom AFTER speech is what isn’t guaranteed over here.

I’ll implore your to do some research about the protests led by the youth back in October 2020. We made our voices heard but look how that turned out? It just might send chills down your spine.

In fairness, a lot of senior developers here in Nigeria and all around Africa are organizing programs and boot camps so there’s that. As for setting up the charity, I am open to working with you on that and setting up a team to make this happen! It would mean a lot.

How soon can we start making this idea a reality?

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

And ohhh yeah, there’s someone who has been doing this for a few years on Twitter now, you can find his handle @hacksultan . He knows about things like aiding aspiring developers with laptops and even has a programme called DevCareers and Laptop for Developers

Collapse
 
alohacodes profile image
AlohaCodes

The issue of having access to the internet and constant electricity is the major issue. I don't think of how much I spend on data anymore! I just wanna learn and move up the ladder!
Thank you Opeyemi for touching that topic nobody wants to talk about.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

You’re welcome anytime. I hope things change for the better though.

Collapse
 
leob profile image
leob

Incredible ... you often see people talking about struggles or challenges, but these are REAL struggles and challenges, you could almost say physical ones ... requires an extraordinary amount of grit, perseverance and resilience in order to not give up and push through!

Collapse
 
tawaliou profile image
Tawaliou

May God help you and Nigeria Dev. I think that my situation at Benin is nothing compare to what you're living. I don't so have a reason to discourage.
Try to be strong, archive you goal and perhaps help next generation on newbies of Nigeria.

Collapse
 
manuelbalogun profile image
Ayodeji Balogun

Just curious, how are the electricity and internet situations in Benin Republic? Thanks.

Collapse
 
tawaliou profile image
Tawaliou

With the new government, the access to electricity is easy and less expensive, even of we have often some interruption in a year. For the network it is not so good, expensive and not good in some area . But with friends we buy data for months so we can use to learn online easily.

Thread Thread
 
manuelbalogun profile image
Ayodeji Balogun

Sounds like progress! 💙

Collapse
 
chie7tain profile image
Ifeanyi Fredrick Okwuobi

Omoooooo you have not suffered until you try to become a software engineer in Nigeria,

  1. family members look at you as though there are evil spirits disturbing you and preventing you from leaving that your wicked computer to go and look for real work,

  2. You spend every penny on data, you don't buy new clothes, you don't drink beer you don't spend money on anything that would not help you become a better Engineer, every 2 - 3 weeks your data is almost finished and you are scheming and plotting how to get money to buy data again.

  3. Some of your former friends think you are wasting your life and they make snide comments and look at you like that person that soon end up a failure.

  4. Almost every morning you hear on Twitter a new success story of a Nigerian that has now made it and got a job in a shiny Tech company and they are super excited to Share with everyone.

  5. Just forget about NEPA/ PHCN power supply that's how you learn time management, you wake at night to use the electricity because you don't know if tomorrow you'd wake up to no electricity again and that your plan of completing Data structure and Algorithms on FreeCodeCamp has to be adjusted again.

  6. What of depression ? What of anxiety ? what of pressure to show that you are not useless, that you maybe you are smart and things are just almost impossible.

  7. But omoooooo we continue to struggle, continue to improve and continue to become better inspire of mad odds.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

The struggle is real. I’m thinking of an idea tho...coders on this thread and other threads can gather together and pool resources for electricity and data...that sort of thing. Stay strong brother, we shall overcome

Collapse
 
chie7tain profile image
Ifeanyi Fredrick Okwuobi

That would be nice ...

Collapse
 
thebookie_six9 profile image
Ajibadde

Mehn dude do you live in my house... Been surviving mainly with night plan and offline site
. And about Nigerians breaking through on Twitter I always look forward to those stories that my daily/monthly sip of motivation @resourcefulmind great ND well detailed article by the way

Collapse
 
abbeymaniak profile image
Abiodun Paul Ogunnaike

I couldn't help but read through when I saw Nigeria in the title. Nice write up, I studied accounting and now I do if & else 😂. It's really hard being a software developer in this country. To make things worst some employers will offer shitty money to Developers, it's all not helping and encouraging. Imagine went for full stack interview and their last offer was 100k 😂 while transportation alone is over 40k for the month. Only God can help us. Nice piece

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

Full stack for 100k?!!!

Mehn that’s a new low...these are the same people that want to pay graphic designers 3k for big jobs so I’m not surprised

Collapse
 
tominekan profile image
Tomi Adenekan

I am also Nigerian. I moved to America and started getting into coding. The "Up NEPA" situation must make consistent coding a huge pain. I feel for you 😬.

Collapse
 
resourcefulmind profile image
Opeyemi Stephen

Lucky you Tomi...good thing you got out when we could talk about “Up NEPA”

Now, NEPA no even Dey to shout to...one time I was in a bootcamp and we had three assignments, managed to do two...the last one was dropped at night and I couldn’t go out to charge

I ended up being unable to submit and it turned out that I was unable to make it to the next stage because of 1 Mark which I would have gotten if there had been light to do the assignment.

Collapse
 
tominekan profile image
Tomi Adenekan

That's so painful, ouch 😥.