Opinion: How Developers Make A Living In Botswana (Part 2)

This is the second article in a series about how developers and techies in Botswana make a living. We hope to make each edition unique to show you all the viable paths that you can go down. Last week, we talked about a UB Chemistry graduate's path to full-time, visa-sponsored work in SA. This week is the inspirational (i.e. envy/shame-inducing) story of a university overachiever who parlayed his extracurriculars into a tech graduate development program. We’ll call our anecdotal protagonist - Tumi.

Tumi currently works for a large financial institution in Botswana as a graduate trainee. He “performs business analytics and project management for projects in the digital banking space while also engaging with [various technical teams] to build and enhance projects”. He gets paid around 200K (P200,000) a year, or P16,000 per month. Note that, that was his starting salary right out of university. He was hired within months of graduating. This high starting salary is appealing not only because Tumi is making 16K in his early twenties but also because of the realities of long-term earnings growth. The chart below helps us see the importance of a high starting salary:

Understanding lifetime income growth (Guvenen et al., 2019)

Above is a sample of people based on earning’s growth from 0th percentile to 99th percentile (i.e. top one percent). The median or middle of the sample size person (i.e. probably you :| ). Will see their earnings grow by only 60% from the age of 25 to 55. There is also a correlation between the top 1% of people, who see their incomes increase by 2700% from 25 to 55, and early high wages. It’s also been found that most of our lifetime earnings growth happens within the first 10 years of employment. Enough complication, what does this mean for Tumi and us.

If we assume Tumi is better than average and will see his income grow by ~400% over the course of his career he can expect to be earning P80,000 per month when he’s 55. Note: Inflation would adjust this amount to ~P345,000 per month in the year 2052. 

I think the main takeaway for all of us is the importance of early success. So how did he set himself up to allow the realities of the working world to favor him like this? In his words, “I believe I was able to get this job because of my participation in multiple real-world projects like research projects, hackathons/makeathons, and all the other well-documented solo projects I worked on during university. That went a long way to distinguish me from all the other candidates I applied with.” I and anyone who knows him can vouch for his precocious building and tech-event participation while at university. He was a good student, having studied Engineering at BIUST but not the best in his class. So talk to your lecturers, do projects and research work. It may just work for you.

See you in the next edition of our anecdote series. 


Guvenen, F., Karahan, F., Ozkan, S., & Song, J. (2019). What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Reveal about Life-Cycle Earnings Dynamics? https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff_reports/sr710.pdf

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.

PS: If you know anyone or are someone (a Motswana/Local) who has made it in the tech industries please get in touch - [WhatsApp: 7564 9990]. Note the figures and studies mentioned in the article should not be taken literally or as a source of career advice but as an entertaining guide.

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