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Software Engineering in Kenya

As technology continues to improve, its impact is felt in every industry, and even in our personal lives. Africa has not been left out from benefitting from the successes of technological advancement. Microsoft recently launched a new office for the Africa Development Centre (ADC) software engineers in Kenya. In Nigeria, Microsoft invested $100million to also launch an ADC. This is one of the countries where software engineering solutions have been anticipated to be delivered to Africans. This article discusses the question – is software engineering marketable in Kenya? We will also discuss the salary of software developers/software engineers in Kenya, including those who have a diploma in software engineering, and information about getting a job in this role.  

Software engineering is the process of gathering user requirements for designing, building, testing, deploying, and maintaining software applications. Software development refers to the processes involved in creating these software applications. They can both be used interchangeably so in this article we will use the words software engineering and software development interchangeably. 

Is software engineering marketable in Kenya?

In Kenya, software engineering has become extremely marketable. The demand for software developers in Africa has plummeted. This is due to the economic crisis globally, as revealed by a Google report. There has been a year-on-year increase of 3.8% in the number of software engineers. The survey also discloses that there are now 716,000 software developers in Africa. 

More software developers are getting full-time employment due to the high demand for software developers. Kenya contributed 2000 people to the list of the growing number of software developers across the continent. 

The salary range for software developers is between 74,800 KES ($649 or €596.78) and 238,000 KES ($2064.18 or €1898.86), for those who are more experienced in the role. So the answer is yes, it is marketable in Kenya. 

Software Developer Salary in Kenya

The monthly average salary of a software engineer in Kenya is around 153,000 Kenyan Shillings (KES) – approximately $1,327 or €1,221. This figure covers transportation, housing, and other benefits. Higher qualifications contribute to a higher salary. A person with a diploma in software engineering makes an average of 114,000 KES ($989 /€910) monthly. While someone with a bachelor’s degree makes an average of 153,000 KES ($1,327/€1,221) monthly. A master’s degree holder gets an average of 235,000 KES ($2038.16/ €1874.86) monthly. So if you hold a master’s degree in software engineering you make much more than those with a diploma. A master’s degree or post-graduate degree program in Kenya costs between 734,000 KES ($6366 /€5855.96) to 2,200,000 KES ($19080.66/ €17551.34). Many people pursue a master’s or postgraduate program so they can switch to a higher-paying job. If you can afford to pursue a master’s or postgraduate degree in software development, it is a good idea to do so as the role is becoming more marketable as technology continues to improve in Kenya. Software developers in Kenya could observe an 8% increase in salary every 30 months. 

On the 25th of March 2022, Microsoft launched a new home for its software developers in Kenya. The building is located at the Dunhill Towers, along Waiyaki Way, in Nairobi. The office space adapts Microsoft’s modern workplace ultra-modern design. The facility features solutions that reduce or prevent carbon emissions into the atmosphere to aid in targeting net carbon negativity by 2030. It uses self-heating windows, a water treatment facility that recycles and purifies water, and a mini solar plant. The office space is also eco-friendly and the space is effectively optimized with air-conditioning and lighting adjustments. 

The Africa Development Centre in Kenya currently has 570 full-time employees across both organizations. 450 of those employees belong to ADC in Kenya and they plan to add another 50 employees by the end of the year. This surpasses the company’s plan to hire 500 software developers by 2023. This is a reflection of the number of roles across software engineering in Kenya. 

There is a growing market for Africa’s technical talent within the past two years. Findings by google show that four out of ten African software developers work for at least one organization internationally, while five out of ten work for startups locally. 

Factors that contribute to the awareness of software development talent include a 22% rise in internet use by small and medium-sized companies, a series of successful fundraising by local startups, and the increasing demand for remote positions which was enhanced by the global pandemic. The pandemic created more remote jobs opportunities for African software development. The countries that take the lead in software development talent in Africa include Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt. Nigeria added an estimated 5000 new professional software engineers to its pool in 2021 alone.  

Software developer jobs in Kenya

If you are a software developer in Kenya and are looking for a job, you can check on LinkedIn. This section discusses how to land a job in software development in Kenya. If you want to get a job as a software developer, the first step is to obtain academic experience. Usually, a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science, or related is required, but if you have a diploma this is okay. However, it is possible to land a job in software development without a degree. 

Some employers prefer to hire those with a master’s degree and may have this as a requirement. You may also be required to have proven experience in software development in the industry you are seeking employment. For example, if you have experience in the medical or financial industry, then this serves as an added advantage when pursuing similar roles. It is important to remember that there are no specific certificates, licensing, or accreditations for software engineers. As a result, less traditional pathways have emerged. You could also transition into the role using a training route like a boot camp. This type of program prepares students for entry-level roles in software engineering. 

Skills required for a software engineer include: 

  • Problem-solving.
  • Experience building and maintaining IT infrastructures, architectures, and databases. 
  • Design and experience with cloud-based systems.
  • Debugging, troubleshooting, and testing skills. 
  • Knowledge of programming languages like C#, C++, C, Java, Python, etc. 
  • You also need to have great communication skills, listening skills, and the ability to be a strong team player. 

Opportunities for software engineers are many and diverse. Some industries that provide diverse roles include healthcare, manufacturing, business, insurance, IT services, government, defense, research and development, retail, and security. Even though there are many opportunities for software engineers, candidates need to be strategic in their job application process. They need to focus on building the skills required for the job rather than the industry. When you are looking for a job, it is advised to look into the jobs that you have an interest in and then develop the skills needed for the role rather than just learning programming languages. Stay informed at every stage of the journey. 

As software engineering continues to stay marketable in Kenya, steady growth is expected for the roles. A report by BLS says that there is a projected employment growth of 31% for developers. This is due mainly to the large increase in demand for software applications.  

Steps to get a software engineering job:

  • Decide on what kind of industry and role that you want 
  • Create an online portfolio that showcases a few of your unique projects. 
  • Write a compelling resume and cover letter.
  • Search on job portals for the jobs you want.
  • Prepare for a technical interview. 
  • Network.
Jakub Borowiec
Jakub Borowiec
Financial markets enthusiast. I studied management at the University of Economics in Wroclaw.
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