Opinion:How Developers Make A Living In Botswana


There are commonly known things that, at times, seem to only be true in the articles we read online (i.e. in America). Like using a credit card to build up your credit score or in our case, software developers that make USD100,000 a year. Dive into YouTube and you’ll find plenty of videos of business majors, engineerings and other average Joes ;) teaching themselves how to code. Then by the end of the same year, finding themselves in a position to be able to negotiate their first salaries from 60 to 70, or 80 to 90 thousand dollars. It should be made clear that these are massive numbers even in high-priced American cities - well above median wages. So the question is, in the real world (i.e. Botswana) how do developers make money, if they do at all. We’ll answer this question with the one thing our brains find most believable. Not data but anecdotes. Stories of real Batswana who’ve made their way into paying careers as code monkeys.

The first story is not actually of a Motswana but he is ‘local’ enough to count. Having graduated with a Chemistry degree from UB, he is the perfect example of the no barriers, just prove yourself ethos we have in the tech industry. His start in coding did not come from a flash of inspiration or innate passion, but a ruthless assessment of careers and their earning potential. This empirical approach led him to choose ASP.NET as his stack. Like Java/Spring or Drupal in Botswana, ASP.NET seems to be one of the more desired skills in South African companies, and South Africa is where he went looking for a job. Note: he’s not South African and his Visa struggles are similar to ours. 

Today he has 5 years of experience and earns near the roughly R35,000 median wage for programmers in SA. So how did he do this? How did he land his first job and grow to where he is today. In his words, “Getting a job wasn’t so much about how skillful I was as a developer, but how diligently I looked for a job. During the time I was jobless, looking for a job was my job”. He ended up sending 785 applications in that period - LinkedIn (417) and Pnet (368). He got 3 interviews and 1 Job offer for his efforts. This first job paid R12,000.

Once he was over this gauntlet, he had the difficult task of proving himself in this new job. He did this by completing tasks on time, even though initially some were above his skill level. Coming home after a long workday and studying for certifications was also a reality for him at the time. There were some major and terrifying snags early on but he got through them and is well on his way to getting a FAANG/USD100,000 ( i.e. only true in the articles we read online) type of job.

Catch us next week for the next anecdote.

By Kgosi Motlogelwa

Kgosi is a Chemical Engineering graduate from BIUST and a software developer. He is also an aspiring writer who is interesting in talking about and building cool tech.

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