ANGLE: Silicon Valley has a competitor: Africa. We highlight the pioneers who are driving the growth spurt of Africa’s tech growth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
Yannique Benitez is the Editorial Assistant at Africa Daily Groupe and is a journalist in New York. Follow her on Twitter @yanniqueTweet.