Friday, October 2, 2015

The Masquerade : On Evolution and Gratitude

There is a saying among the Igbos of Southeastern Nigeria that:

Anaghi ano ofu ebe ekiri Mmonwu

Which roughly translates into :

One does not stand at the same spot while watching the dance of a great masquerade

The great masquerade in this context refers to Sub Saharan African tech ecosystem.

After an amazing four years at Google, it appears that the time has come to observe this great masquerade from yet another vantage point.

Today is my last day at Google.

I will be moving on to commence other adventures that will hopefully position the ecosystem in Sub Saharan Africa to move on to the next stage in its evolution.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Codelabs and Hackathons and Contests.... Oh my! Part 2

Hello there!

Glad you stopped by. It's been a bit slow over here for the past few months.I wonder why... I am sure it has nothing to do with the fact that I have not posted anything in that time :-).
Ok...i guess it does have something to do with it.
I know that you have gotten used to hearing (or rather reading) this by now but you have to believe me when I tell you that the past few months have been hectic and action packed.
Towards the end of 2014 I spent some time in Lagos, Nairobi and Cape Town hanging out with some of the best and brightest in the Sub Saharan Africa user experience (UX) design community (I did it again this year). I then spent the rest of year working to see what could be done to ease the pain of being an internet challenged software developer in today's world.
And also in that time i commenced lesson 2 in a course I am currently taking called "How to work under a new boss" as like I told you the chairman of the board (my now 16 month old son) of our startup (my wife and I) has simply been running things with an iron fist as he guides our company from start phase to growth phase. The young man has made it very clear that he does not take kindly to open laptops anywhere around the house and so you will understand why it has been a bit tough to hack out a post all this while. In fact the only reason I was able to get started on this post was because I was on a plane heading again to East Africa to hang out with some of the top community leaders in Sub Saharan Africa who were coming from far and wide (and that was in March … :-D)

So enough of the gossip....what are we talking about today ?

I remember that during our last chat , I talked about Codelabs, Hackathons and Developer Contests which we looked at from the perspective of the audience that these initiatives are meant for (i.e. developers / techies) and I promised that in my next post I would revisit this topic but this time from the perspective of the individuals, organizations or communities that make these initiatives happen.

This is next post so let's get to it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Codelabs and Hackathons and Contests.... Oh my!

Hackathon at the iHub in Nairobi

Hey there!
How is it going?
How have you all been?
Thank you for stopping by.
Its been a while since we last hung out, hopefully not too long though.
The last few months have been very very interesting to say the least.
To start with I was at my third Google I/O , arguably one of their biggest developer events in the world. It is always quite an experience to see how the future of tech is shaping up.
Also my wife (I called her my C.E.O) and I joyously welcomed our first child to our family (our little startup). The boy promptly declared that he was not satisfied with the position of director on the board and after subjecting us to a couple of sleepless nights made a case at an extraordinary board meeting to be made chairman of the board.  The motion was quickly passed and now he appears to be settled and happy in his new role of having the final word on all aspects of the company (family) affairs. In fact I had to take advantage of the fact that he is currently napping to start drafting this post. Its been an awesome and interesting experience. One thing I can relate it to is having a new smartphone that gets automatic OS updates every 12 hours. So you are constantly discovering new features….simply amazing!

So….back to the matter!
Like the title of the post suggests I want to invest this stolen time in talking about 3 event types that contribute to the lifeblood of any tech community. If you have been involved in anything tech in Africa in the last 4-5 years, you must at worst have heard these words mentioned at least once or at best attended or participated in at least one of them.  I want to talk a bit about them today because every time I mention them or I hear people refer to them I find that everyone has a very different understanding not necessarily of what they are, but of what they can (or are meant to) achieve. I would like to put down a few of my own thoughts on the subject, they may be right, they may be wrong...they may also change but what the hell….here goes. I will be leveraging on my experience (limited I might add) of participating in, facilitating and organizing a number of codelab events, hackathons and contests.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Abyss of the Great Outdoors ....and the Spider Generation

I am slowly getting used to the fact that I will be lucky if get to write to this blog more than twice a year.
I had been meaning to put down a few thoughts for the past few months, but never got round to it. There a lot of reasons why I could not do it...but I will be honest today and tell you it was procrastination ...there ...i said it!

Cele’s Article

I was however jolted out my happy state of work filled bliss by an article on LinkedIn by my friend Celestine Ezeokoye which I think is well worth a read (its not a very long go the link). To give you a summary of what Celestine is saying: Nigeria already has a thriving tech industry. He goes on to list a number of heavy hitting Nigerian tech firms that were started locally by locals and have grown to become giants on the tech landscape and are doing quite the extent that some of them have received up to 90M USD in funding and so on. Celestine encourages the current generation of tech entrepreneurs to do more to stand on the shoulders of the now established tech entrepreneurship giants who have done so much and learnt so much to achieve success in this rough socio-economic landscape that is Nigeria. He says that we should also do more to promote the successes of these guys who have silently gone about their business in building great tech companies that are looking to stand the test of time ( the article, its not as long as this one).

Monday, April 1, 2013

No Techies on the front page

I remember sometime in September 2009 when news filtered out that the London Stock Exchange had concluded arrangements to acquire Millennium IT, a Sri Lankan software firm that had just developed and deployed what was at the time the world's fastest financial trading platform with the ability to process about 1 million orders per second for about 18 million pounds ....Sterling.

My excitement knew no bounds. For the next few days it was practically all I could talk about.
So much so that it prompted my then colleague Sogo to ask me:
" O boy why this thing de trip you like this? , in fact....wetin de power you ?"
Which in plain English roughly translates to:
"My friend, why is this news exciting you so much? In fact...what drives you? What are you passionate about?"
At the time I really could not give him a straight answer. I just knew that I was very excited. At the time I told him that the reason for my excitement was manyfold.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I de find developers (Boiling The Ocean)

Forgive me reader for I have sinned, it's been like 10 months since my last blog post.
As usual so much water has passed under the bridge since we last had a chat. The tech ecosystem in Africa continues to make steady progress. While things are still a loooooooooong way from where they could be , there have been a number of positives to gloat about . For example more and more people are beginning to realize the value that tech hubs (or innovation spaces or shared spaces or whatever name you choose to give them) can bring to the ecosystem and have started to support them more. It is also heartening to see more events and competitions in the community ...organized by the community for the community such as the Africa Android Challenge and the Innovation Open Ideas event in Douala Cameroon. Interesting times ahead!!!

Anyways, now to today’s gist. I came across this this article some days back. Its a well written article with a lot of useful insights. I do feel however that it is not telling us anything new, that is unless of course you have been living under the proverbial rock for the past 2 years or so. Pretty much everyone has heard at sometime or the other that Africa is new frontier with the greatest growth prospects and all that jazz. The bit that caught my eye was a single sentence, that i know also caught the eyes of a couple of people.
Though skills are in short supply, they are becoming more abundant

Monday, April 9, 2012

No Old, Bold Developers....

So its been a long time!
So long that i had to use a search engine (guess which one!) to find the URL for my own blog!
My last post was like more than 5 months ago and i apologize….sincerely. 
Rest assured that the reason i have not posted anything in a while is not because nothing has been happening…..rather it is because too much has been happening.
In the past 5 months i have:
  • Had lunch on the roof of the Co Creation Hub in downtown Yaba with a host of enthusiastic Naija coders and 4 other people almost as crazy as i am
  • Met some awesome developers across the continent , one of whom i have christened "The Black DJ" after a remarkable product he built on the West coast of Africa to another who developed an Android keyboard for Amharic on the east side
  • Carried out some eye opening cross-continent-research with my man Ato 
  • Watched two Ethiopian girls put Willow Smith to shame :-)
  • Twice bumped into ladies rushing out of the same men's room (yes men's room) i was walking into….in two different countries!!! (it is not a small something!)
As i am sure you would agree each of these items is worth a full blog post …or two but i would crave your indulgence to let me postpone all the gist to a later date.

The issue i would like to broach today if you have a few minutes is something that has come up in a few discussions i have been privileged to be part of in the last few weeks, an issue that even yours truly could be guilty of.