👑 Boost for SA's R48bn Software Industry…

Plus: Awkward Zucks, OpenAI vids, SA’s hydro-BMs & how to market your startup like Elon.
February 20, 2024

Flights of fancy? Air Canada may have killed off its support chatbot after it made up its own refund policy and cost the airline refunds plus interest and legal fees. Whoops!

In this Open Letter:

  • Just in: Exciting new data on SA’s software devs.
  • Awkward Zucks, 360 KFC-tainment & SA’s hydro-BMs.
  • Tipping point: How to boost your public image (ala Elon).
  • How you like your ads: The results are in.
  • Free business tools: Share this and get cool insights.

A Boost for SA’s R49bn Development Industry

There are roughly 140’000 software developers in SA, making up a total of ±800’000 on the continent. It's dwarfed by a country such as India with 5.8 million. 

Just look at the average salary of a software developer in SA – at R60-R100kpm+, it is 3 times that of the average South African salary

And while we are currently introducing 2’900 new devs into the economy every year, many are finding jobs overseas – the local supply is not enough.

Can AI solve this issue?

When AI became mainstream, one of the first questions was, “Can it write code?”. Well, yes it can, but just how useful is the code written by AI?

Local tech talent recruitment company Offerzen is releasing its State of Developer Nation report today, and it’s always packed with valuable insights and stats (such as the stats above).

But, this year, we found the AI insights particularly interesting.

SA’s glorious software development future, according to AI. 

1. Usage of online code assessment tools

Many development companies use coding challenge platforms to evaluate developer skills before hiring.

But, with AI, there's a growing mistrust in the tools, since developers could potentially use AI to artificially boost their performance on the tests.

This gives us some insights though: if developers are turning to AI to help them with certain challenges, it suggests that they recognise AI can help with at least some coding tasks — pointing to AI being a practical tool in software development.

2. AI as a code-writing assistant 

What’s more, the number of developers using AI to help speed up and streamline their work has doubled since last year. 

More devs are using AI now than those that don’t, meaning even they realise that AI is not a threat but rather a tool to help them work better and faster.

3. Beyond writing code

Asked what they actually use those AI tools for, it's no surprise that it’s for way more than coding. 

AI is pulled in to process large amounts of data and provide insights, but with a quarter of respondents using it for automation and process improvement, it’s a sign of just how integrated AI will soon become in the digital products we use.

4. ChatGPT still leading the way

Finally, ChatGPT made massive waves and most other tools have been playing catchup.

Personally, we think Google’s Gemini (formerly Bard) is the most useful at the moment. But for now, ChatGPT is still the favourite among developers.

Will AI replace developers? 

We believe this isn't likely until the advent of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which could still be years away.

In tasks like writing LinkedIn content, AI is great at creating rough drafts, helping with ideas, expanding vocabulary, varying the tone etc. But it lacks a certain creative flair only we humans can add.

It’s the same in coding. AI is simply not capable of the sparks of brilliance a human hand can deliver.

What AI means for software development

There are still unending problems in the world, and as we’ve seen over the last 30 years, software is really good at either solving them or playing a part in getting them solved.

But with the adoption of AI as a tool to write better code faster, we will likely see the cost of software development go down — not necessarily salaries, but rather an increase in the amount of work that every developer can deliver.

And with more software getting built, we’ll need more product owners, interface designers (or LLM for frontends), analysts, business strategists and even hosting providers.

This is why OfferZen is bullish on the future of developers and so are we. We’re watching this space.


💰 Small to Medium. South African financial services platform iKhoka has distributed over R2 billion in working capital to its small to medium-sized customers in collaboration with Retail Capital, a division of TymeBank.

📱 Text to Video. The end of film as we know it? Over the last couple of days, the internet has been flooded with videos generated by OpenAI’s latest model, Sora, a text-to-video tool that can create incredible photo-realistic video from a single prompt.

🍗 Food to Fashion. KFC has launched a brand new concept store called KFC Play Braam. The store will have everything from new dishes like "cola dunked wings", "chilli lime burgers" and "hot and spicy chachos", to VR gaming, and the latest in music and fashion. And VR gaming makes sense…everyone hates that friend that touches your PS5 remote post eating his Streetwise 2.

🔋 Electric to Hydrogen. A fleet of hydrogen-powered BMWs is set to hit SA shores for testing. This comes after an agreement was signed by BMW, Anglo Platinum and Sasol at last year’s Hydrogen Summit and recently announced at the Hydrogen Council’s regional meeting.

🤖 Zuck to Awks. Mark Zuckerburg was spotted ringside at UFC 298 to support Alex Volkanovski in the main event. Well, our guy from Meta was seen being mega-awkward and of course, the internet responded.


How to Boost Your Public Image

By Nicole Mirkin,  Founder & CEO of Omnia

Once you have your product out there, with some adoption, a working funnel and it looks like you’re gaining traction, it’s time to scale. But then the big one: How exactly do you performance market the pants off this thing?

Sometimes it’s tempting to think, I wish I had Elon’s influence…

Yeah that math makes as much sense as the Nvidia share price right now

OK, that may be shooting a bit high for now, but it’s not impossible to start building your (and your startup’s) public image right from the start – even Elon was a nobody in the early days of Zip2 and PayPal.

Getting your face and message in front of the right people (including investors) is crucial for shaping their perception of you and your company. And you don’t need $44bn to buy out and rebrand Twitter to X to achieve this – a strategic PR campaign offers a simple yet effective solution instead.

3 Rules for Strategic Comms Success

1. Stay on message: Explain it in 5 words or less

You have to be able to distil your service offering, product or value in five simple words for people to understand it. End of story. 

It’s all about using 5 key words to effectively communicate the narrative of the value your service or business provides, its mission, and unique selling points.

At Omnia, our strategic message is “helping brands be seen and heard”.

2. Turn up the volume

Next, you need to amplify and reinforce that message across all channels and platforms – from press statements and social media posts to investor pitches. And don’t think small; founders must strategically diversify channels to reach their target audience in various ways – think socials, LinkedIn, thought-leadership pieces in high-reach mainstream media, podcasts, stakeholder engagement, events, in industry newsletters, everywhere.

Think of it this way: No matter where you are in the world, if you see that golden arch “M”, you know a McDonalds is nearby – that’s what you want to do for your brand. Communicating on message, in volume helps you convince the consumer that your way is the only way, and every time they see your “M” they’ll come running for them fries.

3. Keep it consistent & long-term

Thirdly, it’s all about keeping momentum. Consistency over an extended period of time establishes trust and credibility with investors, customers, and relevant stakeholders. By keeping at it over time, you’re telling the world that you are 1000% sure of yourself and the value that your startup brings to the table. 

If you stay on message, and drive it in high volume, over time, nothing and no one can stop you from kick-starting your public image in a meaningful way that supports your startup’s business development goals.

Got startup PR, brand and comms insights? Hit reply and let us know (and maybe you get featured here, too).

Today’s Builder’s Corner was written by Nicole Mirkin who is an expert in strategic communications and PR in the tech & startup space.

Connect with her on Linkedin or via her company Omnia Strategic Counsel and Communications.


We asked whether you’d like to only see ads for things you’re really interested in, and most of us still wish for an ad-free world…

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 👍 Yeh, beats getting bombarded with random stuff. (22%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 👎 No, that’s so invasive! (0)

🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 😎 As long as I get data access for my business, too. (11%)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🧐 How about no ads at all? (48%)

🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🙃 I dare any algorithm to try figure out what I really want… (19%)

Find more awesome business ideas from South Africa's favourite startup and tech newsletter.


Join 8'000+ professionals who read SA's fastest growing tech 
and startup newsletter twice a week.
And you're in! We will be in your inbox soon!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.


Join 8'000+ professionals who read SA's fastest growing tech 
and startup newsletter twice a week.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.