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Free (or affordable) Ways to Learn How to Code in South Africa

It can be a battle trying to get into the tech industry in South Africa as a non-traditional candidate (no Computer Science/IT related degree). Many people cannot afford bootcamp fees so I tried to compile a list of training initiatives that aim to lessen these barriers.

Remember that learning how to code can be a long and difficult process. Don't get discouraged, many people share the same sentiment and that is why it is important to connect with others who are on this journey. I highly recommend connecting with "Tech Twitter". I wrote a separate article to share a list of South African based developers. You can find them here.

Online Resources

If you are not in the big cities, don't despair, there are amazing free online resources. I would recommend choosing one of the following resources and committing to it, don't fall in the trap of tutorial hell.

If you do use online resources, it would be great if you "learn in public", especially if you do not have a traditional degree. Many South African companies place an emphasis on degrees, you can get ahead with a company by connecting with others and creating a platform.


  • WeThinkCode

    • Campuses in JHB and Cape Town
    • WeThinkCode is a Non-Profit Organisation that operates commercially and has Corporate Sponsors that cover their students' tuition and provide two paid four-month internships in their first and second years
    • Requirements: anyone between the ages of 17 and 35, able to study full-time for two years, no prior coding experience needed, if you are not South African, you are responsible for obtaining a valid work visa / permit valid for 2 years.
    • If you do not have a computer, they host regular Testing Days at both campuses. Email to book a time-slot when you can complete the two application tests.
  • AfricaTeenGeeks

    • Based in JHB
    • Africa Teen Geeks exists to eliminating the barriers faced by disadvantaged communities in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)
    • Their programmes include: Saturday coding classes, Girl Geek Summit, and STEM Digital school
  • GirlCodeZA

    • GirlCode is a registered Non-Profit Organisation aimed at empowering women through technology. They have multiple programmes available such as:
    • GirlCoder Workshops which are 6-month weekend, in-person trainings that teaches participants how to become a developer
    • GirlCoder Club is a nationwide network of volunteer-led, weekend coding clubs for high school girls who want to have a strong foundation in basic programming skills
    • Digital Literacy classes that teach basic computer literacy skills to unemployed women
  • ColorCode

    • Based in Cape Town
    • A consistent, inclusive community for learning to solve problems with code
    • Every second Saturday, from about 9h30 to 13h00
  • CodeYourFuture

    • Based in Cape Town
    • A community of students and volunteers, passionate about tech and creating opportunities
    • Different courses:
      • Intro to Coding
      • Programming Fundamentals
      • 8-month Full Stack Web Development Bootcamp
    • Requirements: 18+, No Matric Required, Annual Household Income less than R350k
  • Datacentrix

    • Based in Midrand
    • Datacentrix annually selects learners from previously disadvantaged backgrounds who have completed Grade 12 with potential and interest in various aspects of IT. Selected individuals receive a sponsorship from Datacentrix to complete their qualification. Upon completion of their NQF, interns are appointed, either for a temporary period to acquire practical, on-the-job experience, or even permanently at Datacentrix.
  • Umuzi Academy

    • Campus in JHB
    • Umuzi Academy works with leading employers to equip talented young people with the scarce digital skills they need to access high-value careers and thrive in the fourth industrial revolution. They offer a one-year learnership in many fields in the digital space including web development, UI/UX design, Data Science and many others.
    • If you are not from JHB, they offer an affordable housing program
  • Quirky30

    • Campus in Langa, Cape Town
    • Non-Profit Organisation that offers marketable skills using technology to empower, advance and create sustainable communities, tackling youth unemployment, crime and poverty. They offer various programs such as:
    • Web and Mobile Development (HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Firebase and Nodejs)
    • AWS Cloud Platform
    • Automation Testing

    • Western Cape Province
    • An initiative of the Western Cape Government’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, in partnership with IBM and Google, that provides free digital skills courses to the public at selected Libraries and Youth Cafés across the province
    • I-CAN Learn is free if you use it at government sites such as Libraries and Youth Cafes
  • Tshimologong

    • Based in Jhb
    • Established by Wits University, Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct aims to commercialize world class African digital innovation.
    • They teach entry level ICT skills and various programming languages

Pay-it-forward model

  • CITI - Cape Innovation & Technology Initiative
    • Based in Cape Town
    • Candidates receive blended training at their Tech Campuses via an online learning platform that promotes self-learning and group work as part of a holistic programme designed to develop digitally confident candidates.
    • Industry mentors provide teams with a business challenge and ask them to investigate a solution and present back to their mentor weekly. These activities enhance team work, communication and create a culture of solution-driven design thinking.
    • CapaCiTi Programmes work on a Pay It Forward model. You do not pay anything during your programme; instead, only once you receive a full-time job/employment, will you be required to pay back your training costs in affordable instalments, every month. Your contributions will be used to give another, young South African the chance to participate in a CapaCiTi Programme.

Learnerships / Internships

A learnership is a work based learning programme that leads to an NQF registered qualification. Learnerships require you to complete a theoretical course as well as practical training, which is done at a workplace, in order to graduate. You must be older than 16 and younger than 35 to be eligible for a learnership.

Examples of IT related learnerships:

  • Indeed Listings can vary, some offer full training, some require a computer science degree
  • JDM Placements is a structured Software programming learnership during which the learner spends some time learning theory & some time learning practical skills in the workplace. It is a 12-month programme where you study and gain workplace experience.

  • Younglings

    • Campus in Cape Town
    • 1 year Internship to hone your skills and try your hand at making a digital product work
    • Requirement: Matric Certificate with a Bachelors Pass, above 50% Pass in Pure Maths & IT, and interest in coding
  • The Coding Ground

    • 2 Campuses, one at The Riversands Incubation Hub which is located close to Diepsloot and the other at Olievenhoutbosch
    • Intensive 18-month program focusing on Computer Science Fundamentals, Javascript, Python, Java & C#
    • Students are sponsored and have a requirement to work for their clients as part of your tuition
    • Requirements: Individuals between the ages of 16 (guardian permission for minors required) and 25 can apply
  • DVT’s Learnership programme

    • Offices in Cape Town, Centurion, Johanneburg and Durban
    • Two types of programmes, IT Systems Development and Finance Bookkeeping.
    • Requirements: Matric Certificate with Mathematics, No tertiary qualification, A passion for IT/Finance
  • DynaminDNA

    • Based in Jhb
    • Focuses on the upskilling of learners and facilitate the placement of each student into a workplace environment within the Technology sector.
    • They offer various courses such as: Systems Development, CompTIA courses and various Microsoft’s certifications
    • All Dynamic DNA courses are mict SETA, Microsoft and Pearson accredited.
    • Requirements: Ideal candidate will have completed Matric, with an average of 60% in Mathematics and Science
  • MIP Holdings

    • Internship starts in Bryanston, Sandton where interns will complete three months of training
    • During this time, interns will be taught how to program and write code
    • Learners are then placed in teams where they begin writing programmes. Compulsory working hours are Monday to Friday, from 8.00 - 16.30. MIP has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
    • Requirements: South African citizenship, Matric certificate, keen interest in coding, no previous experience needed
  • The Digital Academy

    • Based in JHB
    • Interns learn practical, hands-on development skills that are needed in the real world whilst building commercial facing products via a rapid internship programme.

Meetup groups

Meetup is a service used to organize online groups that host in-person events for people with similar interests. I recommend going to meetup events, many of them host free coding workshops, talks and provide mentors too.

  • GDG Johannesburg
    GDG Johannesburg is a local community run Google Developer Group (GDG). Google Developer Groups are for developers who are interested in Google's developer technology; everything from the Android, Chrome, Drive, and Google Cloud platforms, to product APIs like the Cast API, Maps API, and YouTube API. At the core, GDGs are focused on developers and technical content, and the core audience is developers. GDG Johannesburg aims to meet once a month, the first Wednesday evening every month.

  • GDG Pretoria

  • Jozi.JS is a meetup group dedicated to all things JavaScript! They have recordings of their previous events here

  • Ladies That Code - Johannesburg is a meetup that focuses on teaching you the basics of coding. They usually have monthly events covering topics such as Javascript and CSS

  • R-Ladies Johannesburg welcomes members of all R proficiency levels, whether you're a new or aspiring R user, or an experienced R programmer interested in mentoring, networking & expert upskilling. Their non-profit, civil society community is designed to develop our members' R skills & knowledge through social, collaborative learning & sharing.

  • Front-end Development South Africa (FEDSA)
    is a group of Cape Town-based web developers and designers passionate about the technologies and are keen to share what they've learnt.

  • Facebook Developer Circles :

Flexible payments and bursaries

  • CodeSpace

    • Based in Cape Town
    • Offers Coding & Robotics courses
    • Bursaries allow talented individuals to study free of charge. Aside from removing financial constraints, bursary recipients also receive mentoring and support once they start working
    • CodeSpace’s also offers a Financial Assistance Programme which allows you to repay your course fees only when you start working.
    • Requirements: Students must be computer literate and have good digital literacy. You do not need any prior coding knowledge.
  • LifeChoices

    • Based in Cape Town
    • A 12-month Coding course that is valued at R35,000 per student. You pay for your fees retroactively through work placement fees and once you begin your internship (5-10% of monthly salary).
    • Requirements : Matric with a minimum English pass of 60% (a good mark in Maths or Math Lit preferable). You do not need any prior coding knowledge. Someone that can fully commit for 12 months - Monday to Friday [09.00 to 17.00]
  • Codex

    • Based in East City, Cape Town
    • codeX is a full time coding program that runs over two terms of four and half months each.
    • The curriculum focuses on full-stack web development. They don’t teach specific frameworks, but expose you to the building blocks so that you can make your own technical choices
    • Eligible coders with demonstrated financial need qualify for Stipend Sponsorship for transport & living costs as well as Tuition Sponsorship covering some or all of the tuition cost.
    • The cost for 2020 is R65,000 (ex VAT). They have various flexible payment plans for our customers.
  • Explore

    • Based in Cape Town
    • A 12 month bootcamp that offers different courses such as Data Science/Web Development
    • They have a limited number of scholarships offered by corporate South African companies
    • Courses start at R36,000, you can pay once a month (e.g. R4000 p/m)

Interesting notes

  • 2019 State of South Africa’s Software Developer Nation : 3389 developers working in South Africa shared details about what it’s like to work in South Africa, their most-widely used programming languages and what they are looking to do in the next five years.
  • International Scholarships : Technically not in South Africa, but many people don't know about this gem. There are many scholarships offered to study abroad ranging from short courses to PHD opportunities.
  • 4irskills : Keep an eye out for this program. The initial program already started, hopefully they will continue the program. Led by the South African Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, the 4IR Skills Programme provides courses such as: Data Science, Digital Content Production, Software Development, Cyber Security,3D Printing and Drone Piloting.
  • Code4CT : Code for Cape Town is a community of young women tech leaders. Members of the Code for Cape Town community have access to a variety of opportunities that support your development as a young tech leader.
  • I have a list of South Africa based people working in tech you should follow on Twitter, find them here.

For the most up-to-date information, it’s always best to contact the organisations themselves. If you have any resources/thoughts to share, please comment below.

Top comments (1)

bholz97 profile image

Fantastic! I am a developer in South Africa and I really think we need more content like this. Thank you for sharing!