You too can learn to code


A little over a decade ago I organized my first free computer training program providing access to computer education to over 2000 students in 12 schools in Benin republic for free. I didn't have an end goal, I was just excited to share knowledge with high school students at a time when technology penetration was at its infancy in Africa.

I got sidetracked and went off the grid for a very long time. 2012, I accidentally stumbled on a startup weekend competition, and enrolled. Ended up as third place winner with an idea to start an agritech company building a web and mobile app to connect investors to farmers and buyers to sellers.

Ok, I need to start talking about why you too should learn to code.

I became an active evangelist promoting ICT Education and Coding in May, 2018 when I got the opportunity to train 30 ICT teachers on HTML, CSS, JAVASCRIPT and Scratch programming. The program was organized by GIFEC (The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications) with Afiba consulting as an implementing partner. That was perhaps the best part of my 2018. Three weeks spent teaching people how to code, sparked an interest to continue in that trajectory.

It was fun to see people who didn't believe it was possible to succeed in life, start to believe in not just what is possible in their community, but how they can become globally relevant. In August, 2018 I launched codewit. let us just say codewit is a wannabie Andela.

Codewit is an initiative to teach people how to code for a fraction of the cost or for free, make them sought after software engineers and provide Jobs or funding to successful candidates. The goal is to train 50,000 people in the next five years. Currently trained a total of 1800 since inception last year.

In May 2019 i joined Afiba and the Ministry of Communication on their 'girls in ICT project' This time I didn't go alone, went with 17 software engineers (most of them were trained at codewit). In three weeks we trained 600 girls and 50 ict teachers.

It has been an amazing experience for me personally. 12 hours of my time weekly is devoted to preparing and delivering lectures but I am loving it.

  • If you can dedicate one hour everyday or 5 hours a week of practice, you will be on your way to a high flying career in no time. Coding has no real barrier to entry if you have the discipline to keep trying. Might take you 6 months, one year, five years.
  • There are no programming super stars. We are all work in progress. We still Google everything, read other people's code instructions on, medium, stack overflow, reddit, slack etc.
  • We all make mistakes. We all get depressed sometimes when the code isn't working but then another moment feel like 'gods' when things move smoothly.
  • You don't have to be a guru at mathematics or sciences to start learning to code. I have seen former drivers, waiters, accountants, French majors become software engineers. Really, there is no excuse.
  • Start working on projects as soon as you start to grasp basic coding concepts.

What language should you start learning first ?

I am torn between Python and JavaScript. I have equal love for them. But I would say JavaScript. In reality, learn one programming language well enough, and the other languages are easy to learn.

Don't rush the learning process. Learn how you learn. Learning in itself is a craft. Don't be too quick to understand everything. programming is like learning a new language (French, German, Chineese). You don't become really good at any of these languages overnight and without constant practice.

Shout out to freecodecamp, LinkedIn learning, w3schools, udemy, mosh hamedani, traversy media and other tech evangelists helping people learn to code for free or for a fraction of the cost.