Studying computer science/software engineering or computer programming/software development or simply becoming a Technology expert has grown so demanding in Cameroon as the country strives to go digital in all spheres of the national economy.
There are 922 Industries in Cameroon employing 8,800 professionals (GICAM 2013). The National Institute of Statistics listed in its 2014 Business Directory 18,597 modern companies exiting in Cameroon. The number of companies grew to 23,427 in 2015 and 28,872 in 2016.
As everybody wants to go digital from individuals, sole proprietors, to companies, organizations, and government agencies the million questions are:
The US which is the powerhouse of the world's technology is fast preparing digital products according to the local demand from Third world countries with Africa being the main Target. How prepared are Africans in meeting up with worlds trending technologies?.
These questions and more can only be answered by those who have the continent at heart, those who ponder-about every day in enhancing the standards of living and in resolving basic local problems using the power and leverage of digital technology.
Seven Academy is one of those professional schools in Cameroon whose founders with seasoned experience at the Silicon Valley have understood the secret behind succeeding in the domain of digital technology.
Seven Academy believes in making a positive difference.
They, therefore, thought it wise to come back home and transform the continent with innovative Digital solutions. In the course of implementing their solutions, they discovered a very big problem: the lack of real and skilled technological labor force to push and make happen the innovative solutions to the continent's numerous problems.
The founders of Seven Advanced Academy later discovered that the existing institutions/Professional schools in Cameroon in charge of training the computer engineers/software developers had some common problems.
First, their teaching techniques are 80% lopsided meaning 90% of the training institutions focus on dispensing theoretical lessons in the place of hands-on training. The first problem according to the actors in the field is caused by the second which is:
Poor learning environment: Training people in computer engineering goes with a technologically set up environment that stimulates students to think, feel, touch and do technology. This is the major force of the West because they got it figured out.
Nonetheless, the founders of Seven Academy equally discovered that even when some professional schools or universities got the learning environment, they will be faced with the problem of outdated teaching curriculum and techniques.
Maybe because they are unaware that technology changes dramatically with time or they just don’t care about improving on their tools and content; after all to many it is just about business first.
The last but not the least crucial problem is that of limited expert instructors in computer engineering/computer science or software development.
The excellent skilled Engineers from the state universities or Professional schools in Cameroon end up traveling abroad or employed by big companies locally living behind the training centers and institutions to select among the average skilled or even the none skilled engineers to instruct passionate Africans.
So, haven gotten first-hand knowledge of these problems, how have Seven Academy’s founders overcome these problems to establish the Academy in all standards?.
Seven Academy Lily training lab
This is a very interesting question but before we meet the Founder and CEO of Seven Academy to get the answer from the horse's mouth, it will be very important for you to know what Digital Technology is all about:
Who are the various actors behind the computer and the internet, how much do they make as money to survive, can you also be one of them, if yes! How?. These worries and more will be well analyzed in the ensuing paragraphs.
Digital technologies consist of electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store or process data. Well, known examples include social media, online and computer games, multimedia and mobile phones. When people get training using technology they are engaged in Digital learning. This means that an institution needs to be Digital before being qualified to train experts in technology.
Being a Digital Technology expert encompasses being a tech-savvy, enthusiasts, script kiddies, and other types of people without technical skills but who still use digital tools efficiently.
One mustn't be a developer or engineer to be a digital technology expert since it involves other domains like digital marketing, for example.
In this article, therefore, we will use Digital technology experts to refer to IT professionals including computer Scientists, Computer engineers, Software engineers, Software programmers or developers. These are all experts behind the invention and running of what we call digital technologies.
To better understand the career paths to follow amongst these four fields, Seven communications decided to steal some time out of the busy schedules of the institution’s IT Engineers.
The first person we met was Mr. Akah (larry) Harvey Nkeng, Director of Engineering at Seven Academy. He is an Udacity certified Android Developer, 25Under25 Internet Society winner, and an Open-Classrooms Android Mentor just to name a few. We first wanted to know:
Larry Akah: This is a frequently asked question that comes up in the tech community. Some people use these terms interchangeably. However, I will say in simple terms that Computer Science (CS) is a discipline that studies the principles and operations of computer systems, algorithms design and implementation in solving problems efficiently as possible.
Computer science involves the study of how computers work, mostly from the theoretical and mathematical perspective. Examples of Computer Scientists are: James Gosling, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Yan Lecun, Prof Andrew Ng, Bjarne Stroustrup, and Linus Torvalds.
It entails learning about circuits, logic gates, physics, but also programming. Example of Computer engineers include: Paul T. Buchheit, Thomas Harold Flowers, Bill Atkinson, Steve Wozniack
It deals with building and maintaining software systems and programs. Example of software engineers include:
John Carmack, Niklaus Wirth, Jeff Dean. In fact, most ranking senior engineers working with giant multinationals like Google, Microsoft, eBay, Facebook, Oracle, Udacity and others fall in this category and of course our CEO Mrs. Estelle Yomba is among the very few Africans in this respect.
The next person we caught up with was Mr. Fon Noel Nfebe, the Director of E-learning at Seven Academy and a Web Application instructor. He is a Google Summer of Code Veteran, a Digital Nomad expert and an Open Source contributor. Our question to him was:
Fon Nfebe: That is a very challenging question for most tech enthusiasts. As a young Cameroonian who had the opportunity to have the right mentorship before choosing my field of study and I am excelling in it today, I would like to make this very succinct.
To pull through in the field of digital technology you have to first master your inborn abilities and combine them with determination + passion. When you assess yourself in these three denominators you can then easily make your choice of what you can become in the field of IT.
First, if after self-examination you find out that you are good at, love and will like to have advanced skills in problem-solving using technology by way of theoretical analyses, Mathematics and logic then computer science will be a great specialty for you. So, be ready to study from Four to Seven years in the university.
If you discover that you have the dexterity in handling electronics, manipulating the functionalities that go with them, then tighten your belt for you are a good candidate for computer engineering.
In the same token, if you find out that you are good at and love technology systems designs, building software architectures, identifying societal problems and designing digital solutions to them and in addition you have some managerial and analytical skills, then studying Software engineering will make a great career for you.
Now, being a programmer/developer or simply a coder is a basic requirement for every IT expert. You cannot be a computer engineer without knowing how to code, you can't develop theories and algorithms for computers without coding.
What I mean is programming is the basic requirement for every IT expert to possess before moving to other advanced technology adventures. In fact, to me I would have loved that the government imposed programming as a compulsory subject in primary and secondary school because every sector in the society uses digital technology.
Now you have been clarified on which career path to take after reading this article to this level. We know what is going on in your mind right now. You have another question right? Don’t bother Seven Communications got you covered. Now that you have chosen what you want to study and assuming that you have successfully completed your training and you are now looking for a job, how much will you earn as salary in Cameroon?
To get the right answer we caught up with Mr. Kamdjou Temfack Duplex, Training Supervisor and Director of Full-Stack Web Development at Seven Academy. He is a certified Google For Education expert, an Udacity Google Africa challenge winner and a Microsoft Regional Imagine Cup winner.
Kamdjou Temfack: Well, determining the salaries of IT professionals in Cameroon will be based on certain considerations such as level of experience in the field, what caliber of projects can the expert execute efficiently and also as an African factor especially in Cameroon your academic qualification may determine your pay.
So I will say basically in Cameroon
Junior developers earn a monthly salary range as from 200,000frs to 500,000frs
Senior developers earn as from 500.000frs to 1000,000frs per month
Senior engineers or project managers earn as from 1000,000frs to 2000,000frs per month
It all depends on which company you work with. However, most developers in Cameroon make more money by working on projects abroad as freelancers. In all, I will say that the field is a good one to get into because it is profitable especially to smart people.
Excellent! you now know what is involved in this field in terms of cash and I am sure you have made up your mind to study IT engineering. Let’s now talk with the CEO.
Estelle Yomba: (on a video call direct from San Francisco, California). Thank you for that question. I will start by underlining that with the leverage of digital technologies, education is no longer limited to a classroom or to an institution. One can learn and become a real IT engineer by simply studying on their own anywhere they may be comfortable.
However, research has proven that to succeed in this learning method, you will need 100% passion, self-motivation and worst still you will need to be very smart. So, to be on the safe side I always advise tech enthusiasts to make research and identify that training center or institution that offers hands-on practical technical training in IT to enroll if they want to study and see the benefit.
Let me quickly say that I have made 10 years working as an IT engineer here in the Silicon Valley and got the opportunity to have projects where I thought of getting some young engineers back home to handle them. Some did their best but the majority performed below standards.
That is the paramount reason I and my partners thought of setting up a State of the Art higher institution of learning that will be called Seven University of Technology.
In line with the implementation of the big vision, we decided to start with a World-class professional training center to train software developers with hands-on skills in digital technology which is the Seven Advanced Academy. Here, we train real software developers with a curriculum following standard industry rules from Silicon Valley and big corporations in Africa and Cameroon.
Seven Advanced Academy head office.
Though we do not offer degrees at the level of the academy for that will be done by the Seven University of Technology, we are poised to and are already transforming theoretical knowledge of some IT engineers who come for accelerated training.
Our training for two years is well structured in a way that permits our graduates to work on and deliver any IT project at the level of software development which is what most complained of as being a deficiency on the part of our home engineers.
That is why at the level of the academy, we do not focus much on giving you certificates but we emphasize on “what can you do after training?” And in barely one year and some months of our operations in Cameroon, the works of some of our students are so amazing.
Full-stack web development students in class