DjangoCon Europe 2017 - Setting up a Python Community in Zimbabwe

Speaker: Anna Makarudze (Django Girls Harare/Masvingo, PyLadies Harare, PyCon Zimbabwe. DSF CoC member) & Humphrey Butau (Chairperson of PyZim, Organizer of PyConZim, Django Girls Harare/Masvingo & helper at PyLadies Harare)


First meetup: 4 Python developers/students, discussing what to do with Python, and which frameworks to use. Followed by a Whatsapp group. Initially there were many meta discussion: how to make money out of the group, leadership of the group, etc etc. There was neither much experience with Python nor with organizing groups, and which tools to use. This lack of knowledge hindered the growth of the community.

Going to PyCon Namibia was fundamental and helpful to see how tech communities and conferences work, and what Python (and by extension Django) are used for. Two Django Girls event took place in 2016 with some support (from the PSF, and the university), reaching about 27 girls and women.

They raised money for a PyCon Zimbabwe 2016, helped by announcing the crowdfunding at other PyCons. The PSF and DSF and GitHub pitched in to support keynote speakers and the conference in general. PyCon Zimbabwe will repeat in August 2017, and Python/Django activity is on the rise.

There is also the ZimboPy initiative as of this year, teaching underprivileged kids Python after school for free.

Challenges and solutions

The main challenges are with funding, poverty (90% unemployment rate), a lack of mentors and hardware, a lack of Python jobs and a general problem with the weak economy.

Solutions for this include people coming to speak in Zimbabwe, sponsoring of conferences, mentorship, and recruitment, and contribute to OSS growth in Africa in general. Feel free to get in touch with the mailing list, or participate in PyCon Zimbabwe 2017, e.g. by proposing a project for the sprints or submitting a talk.