On Friday the 10th of November, 2017 we all gathered in Aba for what I may call the biggest tech event in the South South and South Eastern Part of Nigeria. The event was tagged DevFest2017. Hundreds of developers gathered in Aba to explore, share and collaborate with each other. The event had long ended but then, here are some lessons we all learnt while we gathered.
As at 10.00am on Friday 10th November, 2017 the ground floor of the El-Dorado event centre was already filled with over 600 registered attendees. The event saw the entire space later filled to the brim and every seat was occupied both upstairs and the ground floor.
That was DevFest 2017 in Aba. The occupation of the event centre by tech enthusiast, developers, businessmen, etc. is a clear indication of how technology has gained it grounds into the south southern and south eastern part of the country. Most of the attendees came from far away Bayelsa State, Rivers State and neighbouring Akwa Ibom to lodge in Aba so as to attend the event the next day. This shows clearly the enthusiastic spirit exhibited in the region.
It was a moment of encouragement, inspiration, sharing and networking. Google Program Manager, Sub Saharan Africa – Aniedi Udo-Obong was right on ground to encourage techies to build strong communities. “What’s an ecosystem. Communities where everyone depends on each other. From there you will hear success stories.” – Aniedi stressed. He however discouraged competition among tech communities. “There is no need for competition between developer communities for we all have the same aim”
The astute manager also encouraged all participants to strive for excellence. “When you reach excellence in whatever you do, I will look for you to be your friend. Don’t try to be my friend, just be excellent in your area and I’ll come to you.” “Nobody can build your community for you. You have to do it yourself. I may not come here again in the next two years but if something amazing happens I will definitely come” – He encouraged participants.
Ada Nduka Oyom later came on stage to encourage women in technology. She regretted that several factors including the fear of succeeding in the industry has kept women away from practicing in the industry. “Lack of self-confidence keeps women from coming into tech. Ladies rates themselves like ‘I don’t think I can do it’”. Ada however encouraged women to find a platform within the tech world to excel. “”If you can’t write the codes you can be a digital marketer or any other role you can play as a woman.” Ada tutored.
Daniel Chigozie of IGHub later advised techies to build applications that are relevant to the community they find themselves. “”Always ask yourself ‘what I am about to build, does it solve the local problems?'” he queried. “That you can build it is not the reason why you should build it” He instructed that every developer should know who their customers are, what they like and developers should even strive to know their thought pattern. He believed that it was better to think more of the users than just building an app for joy of building same.
Dimgba Kalu advised techies never to stop learning at any point in their lives. He however suggested that for the government to be enthusiastic about investing in technology, the government needs to start using technology effectively to solve problems. “Government should learn how to use technology in order to improve technology.” He also believes that if talent is not effectively managed then there is an issue.
Prosper Otemuyiwa later spoke on how to contribute to open source. According to Prosper, he started contributing to open source about 4 years ago and this has contributed immensely to the development of his career. He laid down simple steps to achieve this feat.
There was a panel session where several issues were discussed including how to form or join a community. Techies were advised to stay hooked to a community as information is easily shared among developers and enthusiasts within a particular community. On how to form a community, the panelists advised “When you start a community remember that you are the least person in the community. Don’t make decisions alone but let the community decide.”
Every community consist of two personalities, the panelists suggested. Therefore, to form a strong community “match two sets of people together, those that can run around and those who have the resources. Once you match them together you can run a community successfully.”
In all, DevFest 2017 has come and gone with Aba playing the host. But we doubt if the lessons learnt in the more than 8hrs gathering at the El-Dorado event centre Aba, will easily be erased in the mind of the techies in a couple of months or years to come. Though techies await when government in this region will find the need to encourage youths who have chosen their career in Information Technology, techforest will appreciate some key players in the ecosystem like Hanson Johnson of Start Innovation Hub, John Nnanna Oji of RAD5 TECH HUB Aba who recently had the story of little Miss Victoria, Gino Osahon of Port Harcourt Community and several others who have been keeping the fire alive despite the challenges.