in Tech

It is no longer a doubt that there is a growing technology community in Abuja. Abuja just hosted Aso Villa Demo Day finale and Mark Zuckerberg, YCombinator will be in Abuja later in September and lots of other great things. I have also written a bit about the past, present and prospect of the Abuja Technology Community. One of the activities of the community that is close to my heart is the Abuja Developers Meet-up (now known as #WeCode). #WeCode is a year old and I thought I should write about the benefits and all that I and my folks have learned from the meet-ups.

Who is #WeCode

#WeCode is a set of some weird fellows who write and discuss codes for most part of their day. They bring people together, teach developers how to use various technologies and serve as the foot soldiers for technical products. They don’t wear ties and suits; they prefer t-shirts and jeans and are night crawlers.

OK…let’s get serious: #WeCode is a community of software engineers, coders and programmers who are based or sometimes visit Abuja. They are a subset of the larger community that focuses on creating connections among programmers and tools that help them do their work better. The biggest value is in the relationship that we have built.

How we convened?

Before August 2015 when #WeCode started, there was #TheHive hangout at RomFlex. We usually convene every Friday to learn Ruby on Rails from Daser David (He is now the CEO/Co-Founder of nHub Nigeria in Jos). However, one thing led to the other and the sit out wasn’t sustained or let’s say it was pivoted.

On this good day on radar, amidst plans to revive the developers’ meet-up I saw David’s post for a Designers and Developers meet-up in Abuja.

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So @ibukunakins and David are planning to organize a developer meet-up in FCT Abuja. It would be an avenue for us to hack, share ideas and discuss about various topics of interest. We think Abuja really needs something like this.

The quickest and ideal thing to do was to connect with them. So I responded, promising to connect them to Enspire Incubator who will and is always willing to partner.

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“Overtime, we had had similar events at the hub but the question we have always asked is “Where are the developers in Abuja?”. Because, we were all in our silos

I will be interested and am sure you will love to contact/connect with Enspire Incubator, they will love to be a part of this.”

We finally connected, fixed a date and secured Enspire Incubator as partners for #AbujaDevMeetup.

Our first Meet-up

We held the first meet-up on 14th of August, 2015. It was fun and famous for the automation and language superiority arguments (What do you expect when you have senior developers like Abdulhakim in the room).  Never mind, it was our first meet-up, we needed all of that to get acquitted and then plan. We had a largely fair crowd of over 50 people.

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One year after

We may not have achieved all of our written goals but over the course of one year, we have made significant impacts. So grab a cup of coffee (If you don’t have one, you can ask the folks at chowhub.com.ng where you can find one), let me show you what we have been up to.

We have learnt new things:

The biggest benefit of our meet-ups is that it has helped each of us connect with folks who know their home-work well. By connecting with other developers from far and wide, not only are we making new friends but also acquiring a whole spectrum of knowledge. Such interactive knowledge is based on experiences and can hardly, if at all, be substituted by text-books and classrooms. There have been little debates on Java and Scala, PHP and Python, JavaScript and the rest on our whatsapp group page. Each of this debates have afforded us the opportunity to learn new things

With over 12 meet-ups so far, we have had the opportunity of friends and experts coming to share thoughts on specific subject matter like Running with an Idea/Restful Web Services with Node and Express, Innovative Design Patterns: Web API, Data Simplicity With NoSQL, SDLC in Enterprise Applications / Pursuing the right IT career path in a connected Age, An Evening with Meteor JS, Rapid Web Application Development: MVC Frameworks, Automating Routine Tasks Within Your Application etc

You can find excerpts of our April 2016 meetup on Hayatu’s blog.

What else are we asking for? I quote my friend Shuaib Personally, sometimes the Java vs Others argument sef, I don learn a lot.”

We’ve built more networks and collaborations:

Since we are meeting new people who share same interest and everything related to it, it goes without saying that our networking prospects improved. Let us assume for a moment that you are a front-end developer who is looking for a back-end coder to start your next awesome project (not startup), WeCode is the ideal place for this purpose. Similarly, you can make new contacts that can help you get a better standing in the industry. Again, my guy said “The connections unkor… me for no sabi Kalu sef.”

On the level of connecting it has been great. “Personally the community has been awesome and I have met and worked with solid people in the community” – Ozo

It has helped us stay updated with trends and new technologies

Attending our meet-up has more or less served as a license to unravel the collective knowledge of all that is happening in the software engineering hemisphere. Since you interact with fellow developers and experts and get to learn about their experiences and thoughts, you are automatically baptized into learning about newer technologies and happenings. This knowledge and experience has helped many of us to enhance our skills and expertise as well as to boost the profitability prospects of our businesses.

Our traction

It is amazing what we have achieved in the first year of meeting and hanging out together. If your coffee is still there, please take another sip and read on

  • We have grown a vibrant community if you ask me. Going back before #WeCode, what existed was itch or so little. Today we boast of over 35 active members and developers in the community.
  • We have hosted 15 meet-ups: Just like the famous NYSC anthem, “Under the sun or in the rain” #WeCode have been consistent with its meetup and I give the committee a thumbs up for this
  • FakerNG: A time came when too many of us were looking for fake Nigerian names and data to use as test and dummy data for our apps, it  became so much of a need that we sat out one Saturday at Salamander to hack #FakerNG (See the repo here). Thanks to Kabir, Ozo, Hakim, Shuaib for their efforts. Hakim has even shown how to consume it using MeteroJS.
  • With the support of ProJaro and other big boys, we hosted the first #ForLoopAbuja. The friendship and synergy is growing and it is turning out great
  • .. there are other things, once they alert me, I will update

Way forward

Remember that I have said, we have not achieve all that we penned down. However, there is a clear road map and things we must do in order to grow and sustain this community. At the long run, we need to engage more. Otherwise this Nairalander’s wouldn’t be asking of a developer’s meetup in Abuja in 2016.

All said and done, if you are a developer and you live in Abuja or visit Abuja like Ozo (I don’t mean it, it’s just a joke), attending the #WeCode meet-up is a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. The knowledge that is gained and the friends that you make in such events can be with you for the rest of your life, even if you ever decide to retire from coding.

Have a great time!

  • Don Jajo

    This is very nice!
    I love it. We will get there! 🙂

    • @donjajo:disqus you know what? Just pack your loads and come work for http://projaro.com. Abuja needs your talent and skills. We will get there and you have a role to play

      • Don Jajo

        Thank you, boss for your belief in me. Sure! Remaining few months, just months! 😀

  • Dave Kalu

    Nice one senior programmer Dimgba.

    • Hello Oga @Dave Kalu:disqus thanks for that post that started all of this. You and AY ignited the fire and the amazing result is the fruit of the seed each of us have sown. The sacrifice, the money you used to buy the first refreshment we had, driving some of us home and all other contributions you have helped shape the community. Thank you boss.

      • Dave Kalu

        Thanks boss. We might have started the fire but you guys kept it burning. And with your continued support and energy, we could affect more lives(probably bring Bill Gates to speak at one of our meetups)?. I still remain your boy. Regards to everyone in Abuja.

  • Adim Ofunne

    Nice write up! I think I came for one of the meetups once ( found a post about it on radar last year) and gave my email but I have not received any updates since then. Will love to attend your meetups, how can I stay in the loop of when they are happening?

  • Charles Omofomwan

    Nice write up. I enjoyed reading it even as a non developer. Keep it up guys!

  • ozo

    Nice writeup! It’s great to see the community is striving strong. We need to up the ante, with more engaging events and more collaborative sessions. We need to see how the tech community can really grow to be one which supports people interested in solving real problems Nigerians (And Africans) face. Good stuff.

    • Recommendations off the top of my head are Hackathons, Webinars and Hangouts. There is a huge job to be done in building capacity for the next economy. Hopefully Abuja recognizes and supports that.

  • Habeeb

    Awesome and well articulated write up. A lot of events and individuals have played a very important role in the development of the tech sector here in Abuja and it will only get better especially with ‘high key’ individuals like you who not only contribute massively but also tell our stories. Well done sir, more grease to your elbow.

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