What is it like to be a programmer in Kampala? (Part 2)

Young Programmer

Young Programmer

Why study ICTs?

Some of the programmers wanted to join another program, like engineering or law, but didn’t qualify for the government scholarship program. It seems easier to secure money needed to study ICT. Many of the programmers explained that they are intrigued by electronics. One programmer explained that he, ‘Likes the way it works. It makes life easier. A microwave, a coffee maker, tv, the I-phone. They make life simple and interesting.’ He goes on to say that one of his dreams is to have an I-phone. He will feel, ‘on top of the world.’ Asked if technology is partly status symbol, he responds, ‘If you have an I-phone you are the winner against someone with a Nokia. It reflects knowledge, wealth and status.’ He goes on to say, ‘black people like to spend, anything fancy and flashy is good. Someone who has an expensive car is likely to be more wealthy than someone who doesn’t. People want to show they can spend and that they have wealth.’ He mentions he is saving now to buy a Macbook and that he loves Apple because they just make nice stuff.

Another programmer told me a story about not having a computer or access to the Internet. He made friends with some wealthy students and used to do their homework and other chores. In exchange he could get time on the computer (without Internet connection) and started learning how they worked. He also bought books and started teaching himself programming languages. At a certain point he went from ‘borrowing’ time to getting ‘paid.’ Curious enough, most of the programmers I have spoken to say the money you can make with programming is quite good. It was even mentioned that starting salary as a programmer is better than starting salary for a lawyer.

From all of the interviews it’s clear that there is a sincere interest in technology and that this is the main reason they get involved in programming. This is the primary attraction to the profession.

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