FROM HESSE TO EKEZIE: AFRICA’S TECH TITANS

ANGLE: Silicon Valley has a competitor: Africa. We highlight the pioneers who are driving the growth spurt of Africa’s tech growth.

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WORDS BY: Yannique Benitez

[The Continent] Multinational companies like IBM and Microsoft have already recognized the continent as a growing market for technology and now many Africans are adding to the development through ingenuity and hard work.  According to tech industry bigwigs, now is the time to build and develop technology in Africa.  ”If Africa misses the current global IT boat, there may never again be an opportunity for rapid wealth creation on the continent, ” said SOFTtribe founder Herman Chinery-Hesse.

 

Herman Chinery-Hesse

Image Source: CNN

Image Source: CNN

Since founding SOFTtribe, the largest tech company in Ghana providing advisory services and technology solutions to other businesses, Hesse had been deemed the Bill Gates of Africa. Educated in industrial technology at Texas State University, the Ghanian founder began his company in his parent’s bedroom and has since expanded the company to have 70 employees and 250 clients including Microsoft, the Ford Foundation and Nestle.

 

 

 Gbenga Sesan

Gbenga-1

Image Source: Ynaija.com

Through his organization Paradigm Initiative Nigeria Gbenga Sesan is using information technology to empower underrepresented youth to create employment opportunities. Educated as an electronic & electrical engineer, Sesan served as a member of the United Nations Committee of eLeaders on Youth and ICT,  is an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow and became Nigeria’s first Information Technology Youth Ambassador. In 2006 he was also appointed as the youngest member of the Nigerian Presidential Task Force on the Restructuring of the Nigerian Information Technology and Telecommunications Sectors.

 

 

Ory Okolloh 

Image Source: Telegrah.co.uk

Image Source: Telegrah.co.uk

The Harvard trained Kenyan activist, lawyer, and blogger co-founded the parliamentary watchdog site Mzalendo to increase government accountability in 2006. Because of the success of her site she currently holds the position of Policy Manager for all of Africa at Google.

 

 

 Jason Njoku

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Image Source: african.howzit.msn.com

At 31 Jason Njoku is the founder and CEO of the largest online medium for digital distribution of African film. Through iROKOtv Njoku has revolutionized access to Nollywood film making the world just a click away from a vast library of African cinema. The success of iROKOTV can be compared to popularity of the American owned Netflix.

 

 

Jon Gosier

Image Source: JonGosier.com

Image Source: JonGosier.com

In 2008 African-American Jon Gosier created  Appfrica while  living in Kampala, Uganda and from 2009-2011 he served as a Director at Ushahidi, a non-profit organization that makes software to help with global disaster response. The software was used to help during the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti. Gosier has since gone on to create a variety of initiatives to aid the continent including AfriLabs, Appfrica, Abayima and SeedCapitalAfrica.  In 2012 he created Abayima, a non-profit organization that provides technology solutions to protect free speech and human rights throughout the world.

 

  Will Mutua

Image Source:CNN

Image Source:CNN

Will Mutua is an author, consultant and founder of Afrinovator, the internationally renown blog dedicated to African entrepreneurs and start-ups developing in technology in Africa. “Increasing Internet (access has) opened up the continent like never before, giving Africans a level platform to compete with others across the globe on the knowledge economy,” says Mutua.

 

Nmachi Jidenma

Image Source: Nmachi Jidenma

Image Source: Nmachi Jidenma

Nmachi Jidenma created Celebrating Progress America to bring to light the technological progress in Africa. She was previously  the Africa editor of The Next Web, a technology news website based in the Netherlands, and she is currently the program coordinator of a Google initiative focused on improving technology and internet usage in universities in Africa.

 

 

 Obinna Ekezie

Image Source: African Tech Leaders

Image Source: African Tech Leaders

The former NBA player Ekeie traded his basketball jersey for a business suit when he founded the African travel and reservation site Wakanow.com under his parent company ZeepTravel. The Nigerian based company has relationships with more than 45,000 hotels and was a 2010 World Cup authorized ticker seller but Ekeie plans to continue to gain new users and expand throughout Africa.

Judith Owigar

Owigar_Judith
A native of Kenya, Judith Owigar is a graduate of  University of Nairobi with a degree in computer science and is the co-founder and president of Akirachix, an online network of women in technology.  Her site’s mission to empower and give women a voice has earned her recognition as one of the top 50 SMEs in the Infodev Global forum. She is also the founder of  the job listings site Juakali.

Muoyo Okome

Image Source: Black Enterprise

Who says work can’t be fun? Okome is a game developer that  previously worked for Microsoft and later developed more than 30 phone applications including the popular Bike Race of Ninja Temple. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York to Nigerian parents and was educated at Wharton and Princeton.  At 29 years old Okome has already made a name for himself in the technology field and he plans to use his experience to eventually help develop the mobile gaming market in Africa.
 

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Yannique Benitez is the Editorial Assistant at Africa Daily Groupe and is a journalist in New York. Follow her on Twitter @yanniqueTweet.

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