Coding has been an educational trend in Africa for many years, and schools and movements have been created in response to a pressing need and necessity in the digital age. It’s still the case today, except entrepreneurs and companies are now beginning to adopt tools to create applications and develop services that don’t require coding. Those who have taken the plunge are trying to maximize the vast potential of these tools by further educating as many people as possible about them in a continent where the familiarization of digital techniques is not advanced.

Some African entrepreneurs have embarked on a mission to universalize these tools since many ICT professionals report that digital illiteracy in Africa is still a concerning reality.

In its 2021 study on the state of low-code/no-code development around the world and how different regions are approaching it, US cloud computing company Rackspace Technology said that in the EMEA region, the use level is below the global average.

The report shows that the biggest barrier to adoption in this region may be skepticism about the benefits, and of all regions, EMEA is the least likely to say that low-code/no-code is a key trend. It’s also the only region where unclear benefits constitute one of the top three reasons for not adopting low-code/no-code.

“It’s possible that organizations in EMEA don’t have as many models for successful low-code/no-code implementation because EMEA organizations that have implemented it may not be seeing its biggest benefit,” the report says. “Forty-four percent say the ability to accelerate the delivery of new software and applications is a benefit — the lowest percentage of any region.”  

Some West African countries, such as Benin, understand that low-code/no-code tools are innovative and disruptive to the CIO community, but not universally trusted. “The general idea is that low-code/no-code is not yet mature enough to be used on a large scale because of its application to specific cases where security needs and constraints are low,” says Maximilien Kpodjedo, president of the CIO Association of Benin and digital adviser to Beninese president Patrice Talon. “These technologies are at the exploratory or low-use stage.”

However, he notices interest in these technologies is growing among CIOs.

“We have commissions working and thinking about innovative concepts, including a commission of CIOs,” says Kpodjedo. “Even if there were projects, they’re marginal at this stage. This could change in the near future, though, thanks to the interest generated.”

But some other entrepreneurs have taken advantage of it and want others to benefit from what they’ve seen in these tools. Actors and leaders of incubators and educational movements are doing what they can for the sake of those in both technological and non-technological sectors.

Many become coaches or consultants of low-code/no-code for companies while others within incubators or movements lead awareness and training on these technologies.

It’s almost child’s play for some entrepreneurs who use it to automate trivial tasks or create internal software for their companies. They don’t need to be experts in coding or even have deep knowledge of ICT. They sometimes come across a technology by chance and end up adopting it because they see its importance and benefits.

This is a reality described by Kenyan Maureen Esther Achieng, CEO of Nocode Apps, Inc., who got into non-coding technologies by following the advice of Mike Williams, otherwise known as Yoroomie, a friend who built and launched online marketplace community for music studio rentals Studiotime in one night using no code.

“Since then, through constant self-study and countless mentorships from some of the best coaches in the global no code space, I’ve helped hundreds of people get started in technology,” she said.

Achieng has now taken up technology as her “divine mission.” Her company specializes in training non-technical entrepreneurs and start-ups, and she teaches people how to leverage no code technology to launch their applications and websites in hours without writing code or hiring developers.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa, software engineer Bigurwa Buhendwa Dom also discovered no code from a relative.

“I had no idea that such technology could exist or at least be so advanced,” he says. “As a software engineer, setting up a working application or even a demo is a real challenge. It takes months or years in some cases. I was fascinated by the speed with which you can build a prototype or a trial version with such a technology, which immediately reduces costs and allows you to test the idea in the market.”

He now offers independent consultations in his country where he has noticed that most people don’t know what it’s about.

A simple environment for companies

Public and private companies also see an opportunity for these services. In Cameroon, for instance, the land credit authority is banking on an agile platform in low code adapted to the needs of application development, as well as the supply of licenses necessary to implement such a platform, how it’s operated, and the production of reports.

In Senegal and Gabon, the French multinational Bolloré Transports and Logistics uses Microsoft’s Power Platform solution to provide employees who use it with a simple environment to create application software without going through traditional computer programming, according to Microsoft, which supported teams with training workshops beforehand, adding that this low-code/no-code approach has enabled Bolloré employees to develop their creativity by appropriating the application creation tools, and move toward faster, more intelligent and optimized processes.

For Jean-Daniel Elbim, director of digital transformation at Bolloré, these tools allow the operational staff to be given more control, but also to bring more agility to the local teams.

“Obviously, the data must be managed,” he says. “We need to define a framework, and there needs to be a group of experts at central level, available to respond to local issues.”

Evangelization and altruistic services

In Chad, ICT expert Salim Alim Assani is co-founder and manager of WenakLabs, a media lab and tech hub incubator described as a niche of Chadian geek talent. According to him, low code is part of daily life of the group’s entrepreneurs.

“We use this tool to set up websites and minimum viable products for our entrepreneurs,” he says. “It’s a real success on projects that don’t require a lot of customization in terms of functionality, from showcase sites to simple mobile applications, for example. We offer a lot of training in this area too. In the framework of certain projects, we’ve initiated 50 young women to the use of low code, particularly the design of websites with WordPress. In the same context, we’re training 25 digital referents, whose daily professional life will be centered on low code. We also regularly organize awareness-raising events on the issue.”

Sesinam Dagadu also makes extensive use of no code at SnooCode, a digital localization solution in Nigeria. Based in London, he’s the founder and CTO of this alphanumeric system that allows addresses to be stored, shared and navigated, even without internet or cellular access.

“I think the biggest place we haven’t used code is on our website,” he says. “We’re creating systems to allow people who build on top of SnooCode to do so using no-code technologies.”

Going ahead without expensive developers

Dagadu appreciates he could do without a developer to use these tools even though he initially used one, which incurred a lot of cost.

“At first we had to employ a web developer who did a lot of work, but it looks horrible using technology like Square Space,” he says. “In Africa, development costs are very high and can only be tackled by companies with a lot of funding. But with the growth of low-code/no-code, more people with bright ideas can bring them to life without the need for expensive developers.”

He noted that because of the popularity problem in Africa of these tools, people believe that every time they have an idea to implement an application or technology, they have to resort to an application developer. But by coding less or not at all, there’s an easier entry into hard code according to WenakLabs’ Assani. “It’s a way to be visible quickly, to offer your services to the world without resorting to the skills of a developer. Above all, you learn through experimentation.”

He sees this as an opportunity to widen the pathway to digital access and entry across Africa. Indeed, entrepreneurs believe these tools will democratize technology and resolve many issues. “This democratization could allow Nocode Apps to be used to solve the most difficult problems not only in Kenya but in Africa in general,” says Achieng. “African problems need technology because the population is young, tech-savvy and uses the internet a lot, so it’s in the interest of Africans to get on board and have more proactive and knowledgeable leadership, especially in IT, to make wise decisions that reflect the speed at which technology and business are changing.”

Africa, Emerging Technology, Innovation, No Code and Low Code

As project-based business practices give way to product-focused cross-functional teams, the product manager role is taking on prominence, increasingly attracting interest from job candidates who might otherwise go into IT. A product manager coordinates technical, marketing, and business functions, taking ownership over a specific product or service over the course of its lifecycle.

It’s an important and challenging career, but for most job seekers, compensation is a key factor when making choices of what to pursue — especially for those whose technical skills open up other lucrative career paths to take. We dove into publicly available information and talked to a number of product managers and those who hire, supervise, and mentor them in order to get a sense of what you can expect in this job market — and how you can improve your prospects and your compensation if you’re working in this field.

Do product managers make good money?

Glassdoor is a great starting point for researching salaries; while the data is mostly self-reported, it does provide an good first approximation of what you can expect. As of this writing, Glassdoor’s estimate of the average salary for a product manager is $127,496 per year, with a reported salary range of $76,000 to $216,000, depending on location, seniority, and experience. As you grow in your career, so will your salary. Senior product managers earn an average salary of $188,001 per year, while principal product managers earn an average salary of $223,534 per year.

When it comes to top tech companies, Glassdoor reports a similar range, as you can see in the table below.

CompanyReported salary rangeAverage salaryCisco$82,000 – $211,000$163,223Google$41,000 – $290,000$157,786Microsoft$50,000 – $231,000$126,068Amazon$42,000 – $256,000$123,502IBM$69,000 – $241,000$131,725Oracle$65,000 – $203,000$118,400Yahoo$110,000 – $206,000$146,029eBay$81,000 – $210,000$126,082Intuit$118,000 – $154,000$135,478Facebook$101,000 – $288,000$194,959Adobe$89,000 – $205,000$140,277

Factors that affect product manager salaries

The experts we talked to in the field came in with figures that weren’t too dissimilar from these, with nuances. Stephanie White, director and head of product, technology, and professional at fintech recruiting company EC1, says that salaries for high-level product management professionals roughly match their tech peers. “Chief product officers are now rewarded on par with CTOs, and likewise, a lead product manager should earn similar to a lead engineer,” she says.

Trisha Price, CPO at software development company Pendo, had a similar take. “Base salary ranges for product managers are typically on par with other technology roles like engineering, security, and design,” she says. “Here at Pendo, the ranges are competitive for our size and industry, and are one part of a compensation package that includes benefits, equity (RSUs), and other rewards.”

Cait Porte, who is chief marketing officer at software development company Digibee and has a background in product management, says that “you’re definitely looking at a six-figures starting salary as a product manager,” but emphasizes that “there are different levels: junior or associate, product manager, senior product manager, director of product management. If you look at the growth in all of those roles, typically the thing that is changing is the scope that they manage.” That can make a big difference in your paycheck.

Holly Hester-Reilly, founder and CEO of H2R Product Science, a product management coaching and consulting firm, is seeing similar numbers in her practice. “I’ve seen product manager salaries range from $100,000 to $250,000, so there’s a wide range depending on skill level, company size and stage, and location. Product leader salaries at top companies can go even higher,” she says.

Shane Quinlan, director of product management at software development firm Kion, says, “Product manager salaries are all over the place. You can look at accounts like Socially Inept Tech Roast for a sampling of memes about $450,000 total comp for Meta PMs who do nothing. In my experience, product managers aren’t making that outside the huge tech companies, and even then we’re talking about more senior folks.”

He too emphasizes that there’s no one-size-fits-all number to expect. “I’ve seen product manager, senior product manager, and/or director of product positions between $80,000 and $220,000. That’s a huge range. Depending on the stage and size of the company you join, you’ll see differences in the admixture between salary, bonuses, equity, and other benefits.”

Overall, Quinlan warns against treating job titles as apples-to-apples comparisons across companies. “There is no universal standard for the responsibilities or compensation for a PM vs. director vs. VP vs. head of product vs. CPO,” he says. “Some companies may only have one PM who acts as the CPO and is well compensated. Some companies have an army of directors of product who perform the role of a PM and get the comp of an associate product manager. PMs (or wannabe PMs) should also be looking at technical program manager and chief of staff roles.”

Mona Ghadiri, director of product management at cybersecurity firm BlueVoyant, says that some of the range of pay simply comes down to what individual companies value. “The company culture plays a role: Some companies prioritize being a product-led organization, while other enterprises see the role of product as more like taking orders from the front of house back to the kitchen,” she says.

How product managers can increase their salaries

Let’s say you’re interested in moving into the field as a product manager. What are the best ways to end up at the top end of the salary ranges we’ve been discussing? Tal Laufer, VP of products at cybersecurity firm Perimeter 81, says that “technical background is highly awarded — the closer you are to the technology, your salary is going to rise.”

EC1 Partners’ White goes further, saying that any domain-specific knowledge is a plus if it applies to the field in which you’re looking to be hired. “The more expert they are in the product domain commercially (e.g., with fixed income trading software, coming either from a competitor, or having worked as a fixed income trader themselves), as well as technologically (e.g., awareness of coding), the higher compensation package they can command,” she says.

That said, product management is itself a skill, and one that also has value in the market, says Seth Dobbs, CTO at IT services and consulting firm Bounteous. “Someone who can truly fulfill the multiskill requirements and navigate the complex scope discussion successfully is very valuable,” he says.

Digibee’s Porte agrees. “If you hire someone who has repeatedly created good product management processes across industries, you may pay a higher price for that person versus someone who knows healthcare billing or IT apps really well,” she says. “The most difficult part is determining what specifically am I hiring you for. If it’s an industry expert, I expect that you will know the space, or the role of product management, and those skills are transferable to another industry. The slam dunk is someone who has both.”

If you’re already a product manager, how do you bag yourself a raise? If you’re going to your boss looking for a salary bump, you need to learn to toot your own horn — strategically and accurately, of course, says EC1 Partners’ White.

“The main thing is to demonstrate why you feel you deserve it,” she says. “Use examples of products which you have rolled out, projects you have completed, where you have saved costs or time and made processes more efficient, where you have gotten client buy-in to a product offering, where you have worked collaboratively in a team, etc. If you give firm (positive) examples of how you are adding value, it gives a company more reason to give this to you.”

BlueVoyant’s Ghadiri agrees. “My best advice for negotiating a salary raise as a PM is to take stock and keep receipts for your accomplishments,” she says. “Big wins like a brand-new product can go far. In addition, being willing to go to bat for an idea you believe in shows commitment.”

Kion’s Quinlan adds that training and certification can help as well, although he doesn’t advocate sinking too many resources into it. “Get (cheap) PM certs, and get your current employer to pay for the expensive ones,” he says. “Doing one-day certs as part of conferences is a good way to build your repertoire and network. Otherwise, LinkedIn Learning is pretty great.”

But several experts we talked to noted that product management is no different from most career tracks in that the easiest way to get a big salary boost may be to look for a job with someone other than your current employer. “In my experience, the easiest time to negotiate a salary is on the way into a new job,” says Dan Ciruli, VP of product management at software services provider D2iQ. “Getting a good salary to start with sets you off on the right foot and has positive effects on the rest of your time employed with the company. My advice is to always negotiate when starting a new job.”

Kion’s Quinlan agrees. “Unfortunately, job-hopping is often the key to moving up in salary and titles. It doesn’t have to be that way, but in many cases it is.” As a result, he advises that you should always be making yourself attractive to the whatever higher paying opportunity that may come along: “Update your LinkedIn. Build a website. Start on Squarespace. Don’t use your college email address or something unprofessional; have a grown-up email. Have a two-page resume that doesn’t get too wacky. Look at examples. Don’t have typos.”

That’s great advice for anyone in any line of work, it turns out, but we hope it helps you in your product management journey.  

Careers, Project Management, Salaries