Benjamin: Seeing the Future of Cross-Platform Frameworks Adoption in Nigeria

Benjamin: Seeing the Future of Cross-Platform Frameworks Adoption in Nigeria

Daniel Benjamin, a Senior Software Engineer at SovTech and former lead mobile developer at Risevest, shares insights into his mobile app development journey, experiences in the Nigerian market, and thoughts on emerging trends. Nosa Alekhuogie presents the excerpts:

Can you describe your role as a mobile developer at Risevest? What projects have you been involved in recently?

At Risevest, I began by focusing on mobile app development and enhancing user interaction with our product. As time progressed, I advanced to the role of Mobile Lead. In this capacity, my duties expanded to not only managing the development of Risevest’s mobile apps but also overseeing the mobile team. As a manager, I prioritised equipping the team with essential resources, ensuring efficient task execution, and actively nurturing our engineers’ professional development.

I would say I played a key role in fostering the professional growth of our engineers. 

What significant contributions have you made that demonstrate your technical expertise and leadership abilities?

I facilitated critical technical discussions that significantly propelled the Risevest app from its state two years ago to its current advanced state. My role encompassed implementing substantial changes, including the introduction of a comprehensive design system, a major overhaul of the app’s codebase, and the successful integration of a more efficient product development process. Moreover, I assumed leadership of the team when our engineering lead transitioned. These efforts combined resulted in an impressive 30% acceleration in our team’s ability to deploy new features.

What emerging technologies or trends do you think will impact mobile app development in Nigeria and the world at large?

I foresee a growing trend in Nigeria towards the adoption of cross-platform frameworks such as React Native and Flutter. These frameworks are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to save time and expedite the development process, and I anticipate this trend will continue to gain traction across the country.

Moreover, in Nigeria, there is a promising rise in AI-based apps and chatbots. As our economy expands, these applications have the potential to position Nigeria prominently in the tech landscape by providing innovative solutions and enhancing overall user experiences.

On a global scale, I anticipate a surge in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) development. These technologies offer immersive experiences and find applications across diverse industries, including gaming, healthcare, and beyond.

Additionally, the rise of low-code and no-code development platforms is expected to continue globally. These platforms empower individuals with limited coding experience to create applications more easily and quickly, simplifying the development process and lowering the barrier to entry for aspiring developers.

The Internet of Things (IoT) technology is also set to expand on a global scale, connecting devices and enabling data-driven solutions across various sectors, such as smart cities, healthcare, agriculture, and more.

These emerging trends underscore the ever-evolving nature of the tech industry, presenting ample opportunities for innovation and growth, both within Nigeria and on the global stage.

Could you provide an example of a time you suggested or put into practice a novel technology or approach that enhanced a mobile application’s efficiency or quality?

The incorporation of a design system into our application not only quickened the development pace but also notably diminished instances of UI glitches and hurdles. Consequently, our app development process felt highly efficient, resembling the seamless assembly of Lego blocks, where each component effortlessly fell into position.

During a challenging period marked by numerous bugs and issues, I advocated for a comprehensive app rewrite. Although met with initial resistance, we eventually reached a compromise. We initiated a systematic approach: firstly, addressing and rectifying all existing bugs in the app, integrating robust bug monitoring systems like Sentry, and establishing a uniform coding style. Concurrently, we began the gradual process of rewriting the app.

This strategic approach yielded outstanding outcomes, leading to a remarkable reduction in our crash rate from 5.57% to an impressive 0.39%. It serves as a testament to how meticulous planning and phased implementation can drive substantial enhancements in app stability and performance.

Could you provide a brief summary of your current position at SovTech?

Currently, I hold the position of a Senior Software Engineer at SovTech. My focus revolves around contributing to Lissen, a music application based in the UK. I find the dynamic, fast-paced work environment highly engaging. My role demands flexibility, often switching between backend engineering one day and mobile engineering the next. This constant challenge has motivated me to consistently broaden my knowledge and skill set, turning each day into a valuable learning experience.

Could you share your insights and experiences regarding mobile app development in Nigerian?

My venture into the Nigerian market has encompassed a mix of challenges and gratifying moments. Each experience has been a valuable lesson, propelling me to overcome hurdles and progress in my professional expedition.

In my earlier years as a junior developer, I faced diverse scenarios. One notable incident involved a brief stint where the CTO requested pro-bono work. Upon declining, citing my status as a student, I was promptly let go. Additionally, tight and demanding deadlines were not uncommon. Yet, I have also been fortunate to work in nurturing environments that invested in my growth, providing courses, and fostering an atmosphere for excelling.

Overall, my journey in mobile app development has largely been positive. My advice to newcomers in the tech industry is to stand up for themselves and resist exploitation. Asserting your worth and setting boundaries is crucial. Always remember it does improve, and you possess the ability to carve your own path in this dynamic field.

How do you strategically prioritise and plan the integration of new technologies to align with the evolving needs of a business?

Operating in a startup environment necessitates achieving a delicate equilibrium. Despite an ideal approach for implementing a feature, finding the balance between perfection and practicality is key. Devoting three months to building a feature that users do not utilise can be a substantial drain on resources. Hence, the challenge lies in striking that middle ground where valuable functionality is efficiently delivered without excessive time spent on perfection. This approach enables startups to embody agility, promptly respond to user feedback, and maintain resource efficiency.

How do you optimise mobile apps for performance and responsiveness, especially in regions with varying internet connectivity, like Nigeria?

Consistently, my development methodology revolves around a “cache-first, network-after” approach. This involves prioritising the storage and retrieval of data from local cache or storage as the initial step, reserving network requests to fetch data from the server as a secondary option. This strategy effectively mitigates potential challenges arising from unreliable internet connectivity, enhancing the overall user experience.

Furthermore, I integrate network quality detection mechanisms. Depending on the detected network quality, I dynamically adjust the content loaded by the app. For instance, during poor network conditions, I opt for smaller media files, while in optimal network scenarios, I load larger media files. This adaptive approach ensures that users can access essential content even when faced with less-than-ideal network circumstances.

Additionally, a significant aspect of optimising app performance involves caching media files. Proactive downloading and caching of images, songs, and other media files help minimise repetitive downloads, leading to enhanced content load times and a smoother user experience.

What are the key security considerations when developing a mobile app, and how do you address them?

When developing an app, it is crucial to prioritise backend security since it forms the application’s core, managing vital business logic and data storage. If the backend is compromised, regardless of the strong measures taken on the mobile or frontend, the entire system is at risk. Engage a security expert, conduct regular audits, implement robust user input validation, utilise data encryption, enforce strong authentication and authorisation, and adhere to data privacy and compliance regulations to bolster backend security.

Additionally, user education is essential. Many users unknowingly share sensitive information like birthdates, BVN (Bank Verification Number), ATM PINs, etc., with unauthorised individuals. Continually educating users about these risks is critical, as it directly compromises their accounts. Advocate for best security practices, including creating strong passwords, activating two-factor authentication, and staying vigilant against phishing attempts.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in the technology space?

Remaining dedicated to continuous learning and knowledge sharing is integral to my professional journey. Actively seeking opportunities to enhance my understanding of the rapidly evolving tech landscape is a priority, achieved through diverse avenues, whether virtual or in-person.

One significant aspect of staying informed is my active involvement in online discussions and forums. These digital platforms provide an excellent arena to connect with fellow professionals, exchange insights, and tap into a wealth of collective knowledge. Whether engaging in tech-focused communities, social media groups, or specialised forums, I contribute to and learn from these vibrant conversations. This dynamic exchange keeps me updated on emerging trends, innovative solutions, and the latest best practices in the field.

Moreover, I highly value face-to-face interactions within the tech community. Participating in meetups and tech conferences offers a unique chance to delve deeper into discussions, network with industry peers, and gain firsthand exposure to groundbreaking developments. These events are not only about acquiring knowledge but also about fostering a sense of camaraderie, sharing experiences, and collectively envisioning the future of technology.

Through these interactions, I gain invaluable insights into the latest innovations and developments shaping the tech world. Additionally, I am privileged to learn from the experiences of other companies and professionals. Real-world stories of challenges and successes inspire me to approach my work with fresh perspectives and a continuous thirst for improvement.

My commitment to staying informed and inspired by the ever-changing tech landscape is not just a professional obligation—it’s a genuine passion. It signifies a dedication to growth, adaptability, and the pursuit of excellence in an industry that thrives on innovation and collaboration.

Can you describe a complex project you led or were a key part of? What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

The Lissen app stands as one of the most significant projects I have had the privilege to work on, primarily due to our deep involvement in the realm of music. Our app necessitates intricate interaction with users’ smartphone hardware, presenting a host of complex challenges.

Interacting with the hardware layer of mobile devices is a demanding endeavour. It involves navigating diverse operating systems and device-specific APIs and ensuring seamless compatibility across a broad spectrum of devices. It is not uncommon for our development team to grapple with hurdles and complexities that lead to late nights and intense problem-solving.

In this demanding environment, continuous education has become a fundamental aspect of our journey. Staying at the forefront of technology and consistently updating our knowledge base is not just a choice—it is a necessity. We are dedicated to comprehending the nuances of mobile hardware, striving for flawless functionality across various devices and operating systems.

Despite the challenging road filled with complexities, it is precisely this challenge that keeps us motivated and driven. Our commitment to providing a seamless music experience fuels our persistence and encourages us to see these challenges as opportunities for growth. Every obstacle we overcome every lesson we learn, brings us closer to achieving excellence in serving the music-loving community.

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