Report on PyCon Africa 2019
The first-ever pan-African PyCon • University of Ghana, Accra • 6th-10th August 2019
Total number of attendees: 323
This included 181 tickets issued at the special lower rate for students and those of limited financial means, and 48 free tickets.
35 of the free tickets were funded through the generosity of members of the international Python community, who bought tickets to be allocated to others.
29 of these tickets were allocated to Django Girls attendees and coaches.
Pricing and affordability
Tickets for the five-day conference were priced in line with local expectations and means.
- Business: US$123
- Individual: US$53
- Student: US$23
On most days this included breakfast, lunch, dinner and refreshments for attendees.
Though these rates are a fraction of those that would be charged for a similar conference in the west, they remained beyond the financial means of many who wanted to attend.
Finding a way to price tickets that is financially viable for the organisers and affordable for all who should be able to attend remains a problem without an obvious solution.
Women at PyCon Africa
Approximately one-third of our speakers and attendees were women.
Three of the eight members of the organising committee were women.
A Django Girls workshop helped 21 women make their start in Python web programming.
A PyLadies meeting established common purpose and plans for support female programmers in Africa, including the creation of a dedicated PyLadies Africa channel in the PyLadies Slack group.
Attendees came to PyCon Africa from across the world - from at least 26 different countries.
Most attendees came from Ghana. Around 70 travelled from other African nations:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- South Africa
In addition, the conference welcomed 14 visitors from:
- United Kingdom
- United States
Sponsorship and support
The event was generously supported by sponsors from around the world. As well as organisations like the Python Software Foundation, Django Software Foundation and Django Society UK, we had support from commercial sponsors.
Britecore and Andela deserve special mention, for contributing to the event with a large team presence as well.
Individuals in the Python community contributed to our GoFundMe campaign, specifically aimed at raising funds to help travellers attend from other African countries.
The campaign raised €3586.09 after fees (total contributions, €3703), amounting to a little under US$4000. This included an unexpected €500 donation from GoFundMe. We raised sufficient funds to support the long-distance travel of 12 African attendees.
Special thanks are also due to: Umba Hub, for supporting the participation of Marlene Manghami as conference chair; Divio for providing web services and support to the project since its inception, and lending expertise.
We received an overwhelming 182 applications to our financial assistance programme, and were able to provide assistance to only a relatively small number of attendees.
- free accommodation for 58 attendees
- 48 wholly free tickets
- numerous discounted tickets
- the cost of travel by long-distance bus (journeys of over 15 hours in each direction, in some cases) for 16 regional travellers, from Nigeria, Benin and Togo
- the cost travel by air for 12 other travellers from Cameroon, Kenya, Ethiopa, Namibia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe (this was made possible through a GoFundMe campaign).
Priorities for the financial assistance programme were to support speakers, coaches and conference volunteers, and to ensure that as many as possible African Python communities from different nations were represented.
We received 180 proposals for talks and workshops; from these we selected 33 talks and 8 workshops for our programme.
Topics included: data science, machine learning, web, robotics, security, GIS, core Python, careers, community building, testing, medicine, accessibility, GIS, payment systems, education, frontend technologies and more.
Sprints and collaborative activities focused on Python projects including PyTest and CookieCutter, and plans to build and maintain community initiatives across Africa, including future Python community conferences.
Our keynote speakers were Anna Makarudze, Ewa Jodlowska, Moustapha Cisse and Kojo Idrissa.
Code of conduct report
The conference and social activities were covered by a formal code of conduct.
During the event, one instance of an impolite joke of a sexual nature was reported. The matter was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved.
Committee and volunteers
The event was organised by a committee composed of: Marlene Mhangami (Chair), Aaron Yankey, Aisha Bello, Michael Young (Treasurer), Abigail Mesrenyame Dogbe, Noah Alorwu (Talks committee lead), Mannie Young, Daniele Procida.
Many people also contributed to the organising efforts, including Chukwudi Nwachukwu, Edison Abahurire, Jessica Upani, Michael Perry and others.
During the event itself, numerous volunteers took on a wide range of tasks. Special thanks are due to Abuanor Joseph, Daniele Joey Darko, Francis Billa, Jacob Mensah Zigli and Kafui Alordo for commitment beyond the call of duty, and our medical team, Precious Yankey and Atutonu Crystabell Sefakor.
PyCon Africa 2020
The organising committee have agreed to run PyCon Africa 2020 in Accra, with a 2021 edition to be held in another African capital. This will allow the team to build on the lessons learned from 2019.
We would like to bring prospective hosts of a future PyCon Africa to be part of the team for 2020, to provide continuity and vital first-hand experience.