By Divya Sasidharan in Guides & Tutorials

Reflections on speaking at Concatenate Conf, Nigeria’s first international developer conference

A few months ago, I was frustrated at not being able to attend developer events because of visa challenges. Some really awesome engineers from Microsoft came up with an idea that can help build learning bridges for Africans #thread

@codebeast

It all started with a tweet from Christian Nwamba aka @codebeast putting the spotlight on how difficult acquiring international visas are for Nigerian developers. The tweet spurred a long discussion online about how to best maximize opportunity while also working within the bureaucratic constraints that many developers in Nigeria and other countries have to face. Concatenate Conference, a free virtual conference was the happy result of that conversation. Since Nigerians faced difficulties traveling to and sometimes affording the cost of attending an international conference, the idea behind Concatenate Conference was to bring developers from all around the world together to Nigeria, albeit virtually, in order to keep costs down.

Remote conferences are an incredible way of reaching an audience as cheaply and efficiently as possible. For one, they allow you to test the waters and gauge audience participation without breaking the bank. Even so, remote conferences can also seem a little well, remote, in the sense that there isn’t as much opportunity for speakers and attendees to interact as intimately as they would an in person conference. Moreover as a speaker, maintaining professional composure while speaking to an otherwise silent laptop screen is a daunting, and incredibly intimidating feat. Thankfully, the organizers had taken all of this into consideration and planned the event such that it was a healthy blend of in-person and remote interactions. Conference attendees tuned in in-person from Lagos, Nigeria and speakers participated remotely via a conference call. Speakers also had a live feed of the audience as they spoke such that audience engagement was not compromised. The blend of in-person and remote proved to be incredibly successful. In addition to giving Nigerian developers access to top-notch content, it also had the camaraderie of a tech conference and provided ample opportunity to meet like-minded developers in the area.

In spite of the fact that Concatenate was an experiment at hosting an international developer conference—the first of its kind—in Nigeria and was organized with less than a months notice, the event was an immense success. (2019 is already in the works!) I was honored to have had the privilege of speaking, alongside the likes of Sarah Drasner, Jeremy Keith and Mina Markham, just to name a few. And to top that this was my first international and virtual conference! The talk I gave was one that I’d given previously at Vue Conf on making a smooth transition from React to Vue, though I localized it by updating the examples, and analogies (I used Jollof Rice, a popular west african dish, instead of Tea) to resonate better with the crowd. You can check out the talk I gave and many of the 23 other amazing talks on the youtube channel here.