Making TYPO3 Global—CMS Africa Summit 2019

Categories: Community, Association Created by Daniel Homorodean
Groups of people in conversation with TYPO3-branded roll-up in the background.
TYPO3 community members in conversation with CMS Africa Summit attendees. Photo: Daniel Homorodean
The TYPO3 Association was among the sponsors of the CMS Africa Summit 2019. We came away inspired with new ideas and direct connections to one of the fastest-growing tech communities in the world.

Creating Opportunities by Increasing Access to Open Source

CMS Africa Summit 2019 founder and journalist Oduor Jagero said this annual event was “first of all, about bringing people together.” Oduor been spearheading this annual event since 2014, bringing it to a new country in Africa each year.

“For every edition, our core team relocates to a new country for several months to help prepare the Summit. Half the year we work on our jobs, then the other half of the year we prepare for the event. I am not doing it for the money. I am doing it because the Summit helps people.”

“Attendees come together from all over Africa to get to know each other, to learn together, and connect. Connections are the most important goal and we are open to everyone.”

Bringing the event to different places throughout Africa is one way to make the event accessible and increase the reach of open source. The organizers aim to make the event as affordable as possible through the help of sponsors. “If someone wants to come but cannot afford it, we try to help. Students, for example, might be interested but not have the means. So it happens that we give most of the tickets for free. But that’s all right. We help as we can. We are a family.”

Over a continent of 54 countries and 5,000 plus ethnicities, Oduor, David, Fred and the rest of the team behind CMS Africa Summit bring people together. They use their combined passion for programming to work towards a better future. By involving young people, they increase their chances of improved job opportunities available in the open source CMS world.

The CMS Africa Summit Showcases Opportunity

Looking back at the African history of social struggle, upheavals and segregation, it’s inspiring to see this pan-African conference gaining traction year after year. As it grows, it gathers attendees from many countries, not only Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, but also from Europe. This event is a great opportunity to support the African tech community. It showcases the talent, skills, motivation, enthusiasm of the attendees and speakers: all united by a drive to learn more about the latest CMS technology.

The CMS Africa Summit also provides opportunities for European digital agencies to seek out partnerships and to build bridges with African digital agencies. The growth of African economies has been outpacing European economies for some time. A net GDP growth of over 5% per year is not a rarity, with champions like Ethiopia at 7.5% or Rwanda at 7.2%. To put this into perspective, the net growth of Germany is 1.9%.

In the last 30 years in Ethiopia and Rwanda, the population rose by almost 80% (Ethiopia from 62 to 108 million, Rwanda from 7 to 12.5 million). Across Africa, there was a 20% growth in internet users in 2017 alone. This signifies a growing, increasingly connected workforce, which creates great opportunity for outsourcing and partnership.

“The world has a scarcity of software developers. Meanwhile, Africa has a growing young population. Training software developers in Africa, who US and European firms can hire, taps into that human capital.” BBC, Jan 2018.

Africa is leap-frogging in terms of tech innovation. Several key African innovations in mobile technology, sustainability, off-grid energy, and digital payment systems are leading the way. In contrast, economies like the US, UK, and Japan deal with legacy systems that delay progress. Free and open source software is an important part of that progress in Africa.

When Open Source Communities Reach out, Their Adoption Grows

If you look across the markets and the communities of programmers in Africa, we see many of them embracing WordPress and Joomla. This may have stemmed from two factors. Firstly, the easy learning curve of these CMSs have made it easy for young developers to set up websites for local businesses and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the Joomla Foundation and Automattic have taken an active role in sponsoring tech events in Africa like the CMS Africa Summit.

With such huge opportunity ahead, it was time for the TYPO3 Association to get involved.

The TYPO3 community had representation at the event in 2014 and again in 2018 at the Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda. The presentation Daniel Homorodean gave sparked a lot of interest. Follow up meetings and in-depth discussions with the Rwandan government followed, which lead to the TYPO3 Association sending another delegation to visit in December. The Rwandan government became convinced that TYPO3 was the right choice for a critical project for government institutions. One again, it was proven to be the best solution for serving multiple websites using one powerful CMS. What’s more, they wanted to create capacity locally, training both developers and content managers to support the project. The TYPO3 Association remains a strong ally for the Rwandans to continue into this direction.

In 2019 TYPO3 got involved on a larger scale, as one of the main sponsors of the CMS Africa Summit held in Cape Town, South Africa between 15-16 March. The Association sent four attendees, including the President of the Association, Olivier Dobberkau, and the CEO of TYPO3 Gmbh, Mathias Schreiber. We had a full-stacked stand, and plenty of brochures and giveaways. We got to meet many people from across the continent.

In Cape Town, the TYPO3 delegation engaged in discussions with people from South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Congo, Uganda and Nigeria. Talks by Mathias and Jurian Janssen were received with great interest. They showcased TYPO3 as the CMS of choice for projects requiring scalability, security, performance and extensibility. TYPO3 was also shown to be a great fit for large projects for corporations or institutions requiring multi-language support, complex editorial workflows, multidomain instances, such as universities, ministries, or city halls.

We were proud to emphasize these complex features, which make TYPO3 unique compared to other CMSs well-represented at the summit.

Growing TYPO3 in Africa with Stronger Connections and Education

As you have read, the interest generated around TYPO3 during the summit among attendees, programmers and management is already converting into ongoing conversations that show TYPO3 has potential to grow. We look forward to seeing more local agencies learning about TYPO3, testing it in pilot projects, and using it more and more in their local markets.

As we saw in Rwanda, we see potential for connecting to larger institutions and building a long-term plan to build capacity and grow local support. The result would be a lasting impact on the market and long-term partnerships.

At the current pace of growth, Africa needs more programmers, much more than even the local universities can generate. To meet the needs, many alternative education initiatives that help young people to learn programming are gaining traction.

In Cape Town, we visited some of the local initiatives and discussed ideas with others during the Summit. This was inspiring. We considered: what if we had TYPO3 Schools, providing training for young programmers and developers? We came back with contacts and ideas that could help create awareness and build TYPO3 skills in a totally new community.  

It’s an exciting time in Africa. The next generation of developers and entrepreneurs in leadership positions in Africa have a fresh vision. They have innovative ideas, better access to funding, and new potential in their local economies. Startup communities are forming in cities like Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, Accra, Kigali or Cape Town, and the IT industry to support them is flourishing.

The technology to support those businesses, along with improving skills and knowledge, will help these businesses grow. Giving new developers the knowledge and experience to use TYPO3 not only helps them earn more money and get jobs locally, it also connects them and the businesses they work for to virtually any market in the world.

Content management systems like TYPO3 are an important part of many businesses. Whether it’s the public face of a company that spans across multiple languages and locations in Africa,or  a business-critical application that offers integration with new systems, a tool like TYPO3 CMS gives these creative communities the flexibility to get the job done. As a tool that excels at multisite, multilingual projects and integrates so well with other platforms, TYPO3 can help entrepreneurs in Africa connect across borders, languages, and traditions.

What’s next? Come to CMS Africa Summit 2020 in Accra, Ghana

TYPO3’s relationship with Africa is only just beginning. We see a fantastic opportunity ahead of us. Africa will continue to see strong growth, and the tech community is eager to embrace the best technologies. TYPO3 CMS should be there in the front row.

Next year the CMS Africa Summit will take place in Accra, Ghana. And the TYPO3 community will be in strong attendance. Meanwhile, all the connections that have been made so far are the beginnings of bridges. We can help enable local projects and agencies to adopt TYPO3, and at the same time help TYPO3 grow globally.

Advice and Copyediting: Heather McNamee • Proofreading: Amy Hunt