The future of agility in Africa: challenges and progress


The African continent lags behind in adopting agility compared to other continents as it faces nasty challenges and setbacks. According to Aanu Gopald, the next two decades look promising for the young continent, as tech startups, SMEs and large corporations recognize that a collaborative approach to product development leads to more productive and value-driven results.

Aanu Gopald, business agile coach, spoke about agility in Africa at the Agile Consortium Belgium 2021 conference.

Gopald mentioned that the African continent still lags behind, not only in adoption, but also in adopting the agile mindset compared to other continents in the world. She said:

There is no better illustration of this than the fact that respondents from Africa represented only 2% of respondents for the 14th Annual State of Agile Report.

While this number may not be a good picture on a large scale, we cannot ignore the fact that Agile is steadily creeping into African business and software development spaces.

In recent years, more and more organizations, such as Sterling Bank, MTN, Access Bank, Flying Doctors Nigeria and Interswitch, have embraced agile ways of working and brought in expert agile consultants to lead their transformation. Standard Bank, South Africa’s largest bank, has made a complete makeover from traditional business models to an agile framework at scale.

Tech startups, SMEs and large corporations recognize that a collaborative approach to product development leads to more productive and value-driven results, Gopald said. She cited a few examples:

The rise of technology hubs and startups has been explosive, numbering more than 600 in Africa, with promises of further increases. In Nigeria alone, tech startups like Flutterwave, PiggyVest, Kuda and Paystack, to name a few, have dominated the FinTech space using digital innovation, generating millions of dollars in seed funding. . In the e-health sector, 54Gene and mPharma have innovated and are expanding across the continent. These hubs play a crucial role in community, business incubation and ideation and their growth continues to fuel innovation in Africa and the international community.

With companies making sure their staff receive Agile training, and more educational programs being put in place to involve enterprising individuals in raising awareness and adopting the Agile mindset and methods, I think that the future of Agility is bright, concluded Gopald.

InfoQ interviewed Aanu Gopald on Agility Adoption in Africa.

InfoQ: What are the main challenges facing Africa?

Aanu Gopald: Africa is the second largest and the second most populous continent in the world, but remains the poorest and least developed in the world. Although the continent has made progress in a number of areas, it still faces a large number of challenges and nasty setbacks compared to its counterparts. These challenges include: poor employment structures and mismanagement of human resources, non-strategic decision-making and political instability, lack of access to essential amenities and substandard social and IT infrastructure. mean.

It has become increasingly clear that for Africa to follow the rest of the world in this digital evolution, we must find ways to overcome these obstacles.

Several progressive opinion leaders have considered these issues and reached agreement that solutions to Africa’s development problems can only be found by working from the bottom up. In the wake of this awareness, programs and institutions, such as Africa Agility, Agile 42, Leantor, Agile Advisor Africa, Think Agile, Zhill Systems and Professional Agile Global, dedicated to meticulously equipping future leaders are being put in place. to change our economy. landscape for the better with innovative digital solutions. In recent times, there have been more conferences to raise awareness, train and promote the application of Agile in various sectors.

InfoQ: What is the situation in Africa regarding the adoption of agility?

Gopald: Statistics from IQ Business’s State of Agile Africa 2020 report indicate that the majority of the population applying Agile methods use Scrum. Out of a sample of 260 survey respondents, 68% have completed training on Scrum, 41% on Kanban and 30% on Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and product ownership. The focus is gradually shifting from traditional, hierarchical and demanding project management process methods to Agile’s collaborative, people-centered and accelerated product delivery approach, particularly in the financial services industries.

As in other parts of the world, the landscape in Africa is still filled with traditional business models and leadership communities unprepared for modern challenges. Other critical challenges are traditional organization and political culture, lack of leadership sponsorship and commitment, lack of Agile skills, managerial apathy, and organizational resistance to change. However, with constant efforts, we can build a future focused on ingenious software development solutions from Africa.

InfoQ: You mentioned that there has been an increase in the number of young African innovators and startups. Where does it show and what will be the impact?

Gopald: Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the world’s youngest population, an increasingly educated population brimming with innovative talent and entrepreneurship.

At the turn of the 21st century, Africa has become home to some of the fastest growing economies, spawning several self-made millionaires from Africa to Africa. One way that young people in Africa are solving some of the socio-economic problems such as unemployment is by daring to move away from unavailable white-collar jobs and enter into entrepreneurship. They defy the odds by developing new ways of making money and attracting investment to their respective countries.

South African fintech startup Basalt Technology (formerly known as Black Beard) is one of the startups in Africa that uses the agile approach for intuitive problem solving. YUX, a research and design company located in Ivory Coast and Senegal, combines UX and Human Centered Design methods with agile development teams to create digital products and services.

Young people are Africa’s most valuable resource for economic transformation, and the welcome influx of new ideas is a promising step towards a sustainable economy.

InfoQ: What does the future of agility look like in Africa?

Gopald: The future of agility in Africa looks brighter than ever, and the impact on the global economy will be explosive as Africa is now more important than ever to the global economy, at around 15% + of the world’s energy resources and 60% of the world’s unused agricultural land.

There are still huge socio-economic problems in Africa to overcome. However, the continent is making remarkable progress, and if this pace is maintained / improved, the possibilities are endless.

The next two decades are filled with promise of digital transformation and innovation in Africa as organizations embrace the empathetic, value-driven and people-centered approach of the agile mindset.


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