Decagon Institute is on a mission to make Nigeria a software engineering nation; to serve, first the nation then outsource to other countries.
The Founder, Decagon, Chika Nwobi with about two decades experience in starting up businesses like Jobberman, Cheki and MTech, his dream of using local talents to solve local problems is about to be achieved in this feat which looks to train 5,000 software developers in 5 years.
He shared the big dream at a recent press conference in Lagos where he revealed that many startups in Nigeria are modelled after Silicon Valley patterns, but where Silicon Valley has a surplus of talents, many of these startups use the funding to get developers from other countries and this leads to fast depletion of the funds among other disadvantages.
Considering that Nigeria has a youthful population with 63% of these youth unemployed, he believes that there remains a huge untapped talent pool and this initiative would help develop software engineers who would be trained to be at par with their mates in other countries.
The Head of Strategy, Sterling Bank, Khafil Animashaun, shared that the Decagon Initiative’s vision is in line with the Bank’s H.E.A.R.T. initiative which focuses on Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Transport.
Khafil stated that Sterling Bank believes that the Institute will be solving both educational and unemployment problems in the country and that made it worth having the first student-loan opportunity in Nigeria.
Khafil also revealed that in the course of this training, the students would also be trained in financial literacy and this would help grow the financial system of Nigeria.
The pan-African Investment Firm, African Capital Alliance (ACA) which also focuses on tech grants for Africa also showed its willing support to be a part of the Decagon dream.
The Project Manager, ACA Foundation, Tech Grant, Ibi Cookey, shared that the Decagon initiative comes across to ACA as a different mode of operation contrary to the obvious culture used by some, where they first destroy then try to build back up.
He saw Decagon as trying to build from what exists which is commendable.
The Head of Marketing, MainOne, Tayo Ashiru, reiterated that MainOne is dedicated to growing the tech ecosystem of Nigeria and saw Decagon’s move as one of such ways to do that, hence the unwavering support of the connectivity and datacenter company.
Mr Nwobi revealed that Decagon had initially being a customer of MainOne, buying bandwidth, but after a while made a move to ask for support from them to be a part of the dream.
He shared that MainOne came on board as a supporter of the dream, in an applaudable manner, providing twice the amount of bandwidth Decagon formerly purchased.
Mr Chika believes that setting the right environment and the basics in place, one can produce a world-class software developer in six months which is what the Decagon Institute is doing with these students.
The Institute gives the students, through the students’ loan acquired from Sterling Bank, accommodation, feeding, a laptop, the tutoring and a monthly stipend of N45,000.
While the program might look like a dream come true for some, the admission is the hurdle as it is gotten purely on merit even though there is a dream of having a 50% inclusion of the female gender in the program to increase female participation in tech.
The students, who are called ‘Decadevs’, go through a rigorous training process, similar to what they would face in the real world, revealed the Program Director, Decagon, Mrs Nkem Alozie.
She stated that from the Day 1 of the Bootcamp, the Decadevs are pressed to deliver and gear up.
She believed that it tests them in different ways and so when they graduate, they are excellent software developers.
Mr Nwobi shared that there is a huge need for software engineers globally, and having a huge population of youths, Nigeria should have had a lot of engineers like India who has 3.9 million software developers and work for people outside India, making over $20 billion a year of non-oil revenue, which is four times Nigeria’s 2018 oil revenue.
He emphasised that for Nigeria to get to where it can be, there is a need for deliberate investments in talents.