Is Decagon about to put Nigeria on the map?

Nimide Fala
3 min readJan 16, 2019

Decagon wants to transform Nigeria into a global tech hub and they just took their first major step toward achieving that vision. Late last year, they hosted a public event where their inaugural squad of Decagon developers (Decadevs) showcased their creations after a grueling two-week bootcamp.

Grace, a newly minted Decadev, created a money saving platform called Kolo, named after traditional Yoruba piggy bank system, while her colleague, Chibueze, designed an inventory management system that is a highly useful and in-demand tool for any business.

DecaDevs, Decagon team members, and invited guests.

Decagon is a welcome initiative in the country because it promises to transform Nigeria’s massive reserves of talented but underutilized youth into world-class software developers at scale — regardless of their experience or ability to pay. Through a pay-it-forward mentorship model and job placement component, the program will generate 5,000 engineers, 30,000 jobs, and near $1 billion in export revenue over the next five (5) years.

These figures may seem optimistic if not impossible, but in fact, they are conservative. India’s IT industry generated $154 billion last year — that’s 40% of Nigeria’s entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) — and $117 billion of that was from exports! The sector is responsible for 3.9 million jobs in the country. Global demand for tech talent is only going to grow further; the White House Administration’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology projects a 1 million engineer shortfall in the U.S. by 2020. It’s time Nigeria tap into that opportunity at scale.

This fact was echoed by invited guests who represented diverse sectors including media, government, and technology. Many spoke about their own firm’s technical needs:

Deji Balogun, CTO of Terragon Limited (one of Decagon’s hiring partners) emphasized the lack of supply in the country and announced that he could hire the entire class of Decadevs right then if only they had completed the program. The Decadevs promptly ambushed him after the event to learn more!

Ayokunu Ojeniyi, Executive Assistant to the Office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Industry, Trade and Investment, also spoke on the willingness of the government to collaborate. Some pockets of the administration are realizing the massive potential of the sector and are keen to tap into it.

Decagon’s holistic curriculum, mentor matching, payment deferment, and job placement components make it a complete solution to the talent gap. However, what truly distinguishes the program is its ambitious Nigeria-focused vision of an economic and cultural transformation that results in the elevation of the developer/engineer to the level of doctor, tech cities, millions of direct and indirect jobs, thousands of startups with several unicorns, and the emergence of a stable Nigerian middle class.

The program’s Founder, Chika Nwobi closed with a call to stakeholders to partner with the Institute to accelerate the journey to that vision of Nigeria.

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