PyCon Namibia 2018

The annual Python programming conference for professionals, entrepreneurs, scientists, academics and students.

Looking back at PyCon Namibia 2018

PyCon Namibia 2018 was held at NIPAM in Windhoek from 20th-22nd February.

If you'd like more photographs of the event, see our selection of Noah Alorwu's pictures.

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PyCon Namibia 2018 in numbers

  • the fourth edition of Namibia's annual Python conference
  • 3 days of talks and workshops
  • 82 attendees, including experienced software professionals and complete newcomers to programming
    • ...who travelled from at least 12 different countries
    • ...including 15 PyNam Scholars (school-age students)
  • 13 workshops
    • ...including a Django Girls workshop with 30 additional attendees
  • 21 talks
    • ...including dozens of lightning talks
  • 16 sponsors
    • ...including 5 Namibian sponsors
  • about one half of our attendees and one third of our speakers were women

Notable moments from PyCon NA 2018

Each PyCon Namibia has built on the previous year's efforts (you can also read about what we achieved in 2017).

This year, our PyCon took a number of steps forward and also provided a showcase of achievements in the Namibian Python community in the past year. Below are a few stand-out moments from this year's event, that help convey its flavour.

PyNam Scholars working as Django Girls coaches

Last year Queen Namene came to her first PyCon; this year she helped lead the Django Girls workshop as a coach, sharing the skills and knowledge she has developed since then.

Berhane Wheeler's workshop

Berhane is 13, and has just started his first year at high school. There was standing-room only at his workshop, Build a guessing game in Python, which he devised and ran with flair and to great impact.

Talks by the PyNam Scholars

Several talks - which included live coding demonstrations, such as Godwin Nekongo's (above) - were presented by PyNam Scholars, school pupils who have been studying Python under the tutelage of Jessica Upani, the president of PyNam.

Spontaneous meetings and gatherings

Several impromptu workshops were held following talks or other workshops, to explore some question or problem in more detail. Here, Hasan Masood discusses Python environment and package management.

More Python code from Namibia

This year from Namibian programmers we saw more code demonstrations, in a wider range of applications, than ever before, turning Python to their own concerns and interests.

Above, Ngatatue Mate in his talk on Python in Music.

Expanding the African Python community

This year Python programmers from two new African nations came to Namibia. Noah Alorwu is one of the organisers of the first PyCon Ghana, coming later this year, and we also met Pythonistas from Botswana, including Candy Tricia Khohliwe (above).

The lightning talks

Lightning talks are always a PyCon highlight, but the sheer quantity of people wanting to give lightning talks was remarkable (the picture above shows a small fraction of Thursday's queue).

As in previous years, many of these expressed enthusiasm for carrying on the work achieved at this event and ambitions for future projects. We saw many of last year's hopes and ambitions turn into reality this year, and expect the same for those described this time.

Plans for a PyCon Africa

We held a meeting (instigated and chaired by Marlene Mhangami, above) to discuss the prospects of a pan-African PyCon in 2019 or 2020. The meeting was attended by representatives of several African nations. 

The challenges of such an event are considerable, but with new PyCons appearing in Africa each year, the momentum keeps growing. The group will continue working together to explore the project.

Talks and workshops

Both absolute newcomers to programming and highly experienced software professionals come to PyCon Namibia, and our talks and workshops reflected this. 

We held a packed programme of sessions over three days.


Topics included:

  • Python's application in different research contexts (mathematical, clinical and others)
  • Python for data analysis and visualisation
  • using Python to create music
  • Python theory, technique and skills
  • mapping with Python and Django
  • the accelerating growth of Python in Namibia and across Africa
  • practical Python application to everyday local needs


Our workshops shared expertise at all levels of experience.

As well as several highly-technical sessions for people already familiar with Python, we held interactive workshops aimed at beginners. They included the third edition of Django Girls Windhoek.

As part of the effort to keep Python growing across Africa, organisers of several established and new African PyCons took part in a Take your PyCon to the next level workshop.

Our aims

The first Python conference in Namibia had two key aims: to introduce Python to a new audience, and to establish a local community.

The Namibian Python community has since gone from strength to strength, growing in skills, confidence and ambition.

Our PyCon now aims to reflect and encourage the growth of Python in several different aspects, and we measure our success by assessing progress in each of them: community, skills, education, application, creation, business.


Self-organisation, based on a common interest in Python

With PyNam in Namibia, and newer PyCons that our conference has inspired in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana, PyCon NA has had a substantial influence.

In Namibia itself there is no other comparable open-source software community.


Core software development knowledge, abilities and capacity

The skills of Namibian Python programmers have grown enormously over the past three years, with the use of Python growing all the time, and growing more ambitious. Programmers who were new to Python in 2015 are now not only teaching others with confidence, their students are also coaching in workshops and running tutorials.


Teaching and encouraging the adoption of Python in schools and universities

Despite the challenges faced by Namibian educators, including a lack of suitable equipment, Python is now a language of choice in higher education and schools. PyCon NA has also spawned an annual Computer Day conference for school learners in Windhoek.


Applying Python to solve real-world problems, particularly in a local or African context

Python is steadily displacing other languages as a real-world tool in Africa. The use of Python/Django at the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute (featured at this year's event) is a prime example. As skills develop, we want to see their fruits make a difference in practical applications.


Creating or contributing to software, tools and initiatives

PyCon NA has been a showcase for various African projects, including Reahl.

We are yet to see new software emerging from Namibia, but encouraging this is one of our two key aims to be fulfilled in the future.


Creating prosperity with Python, in entrepreneurship and industry

Our greatest challenge. Namibian software development and implementation is dominated by Java, .NET and PHP. It's crucial for us to bring Python to the attention of Namibian industry; a sustainable, healthy Python community requires business's support. We attracted more local sponsors this year - a positive sign.


We are enormously grateful to all of our supporters.

PyCon Namibia relies on the support of sponsors. One of the most encouraging developments this year was the growth in the number of local sponsors, because the support and engagement of Namibian companies and organisations is crucial to the sustainability not just of PyCon Namibia, but of the Namibian Python community.

We also received a number of private donations from individuals, and we're thankful for their generosity.