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.
Looking back over the years at how much the tech ecosystem in Africa has grown in just 4 years. I am filled with nothing but immense gratitude to have played a part no matter how small (as part of the Emerging Markets Outreach team and then the Developer Ecosystems team) in working with people of all ages who decided to take their futures in their own hands and create the products and services that would enable more than a billion people leverage the internet as a platform for growth and enlightenment in Africa and other growth markets.
It has been an amazing ride. I have had the privilege of working in the company of some of the brightest and most passionate minds in the business both within and outside the company as they toiled day and night to better themselves, better their worlds and better the world.
In the last 4-6 years, we have seen the significant growth in the region and one can see evidence in so many forms e.g:
- The increase in the number of companies of all sizes focused on B2C tech solutions / services across Africa without relying on collaboration with some big bank or government institution
- The increase in the quality of the products and services that these companies are creating
- The increased investment in these companies
- The increase in the number of regional experts in various technologies that are now known to the larger community and the improved transfer of knowledge between these experts and the community and vice versa. Most of today's tech events in the region are now powered by local talent
- The increased personal collaboration between developers and other players in the tech space, not just across regions in the same country but across various countries in the continent
- The number of tech events of all sizes that are happening not just at a continental scale but also in tier two and tier 3 cities across the continent e.g. from the Demo Africa event in Lagos with 500+ attendees, to the 10 person Google Developer group Udacity study group in Kisumu
- More Africans beginning to take their place and make their voices heard on the global stage purely on the merit of what they have achieved
Even though things are nowhere near where they should be, I feel really grateful to be alive at a time when so much is happening and to just be able to witness it all.
Huge thanks go out to the developer community for all the support that you all continue to give me. Working with you remains the highest of many highlights of the last four years. As I move on to the next stage in my career , I move with the full confidence that the future of the developer community in the region is getting brighter by the day with continued collaboration from Google and other tech giants.
To Larry, Sergey, Sundar and my soon to be ex colleagues at Google, I can only say “Thank you” (the most under valued phrase in the English language). Google took a bet on Africa at a time when many similar silicon valley internet companies could not locate Nairobi or Lagos on a map (without Google), a lot of the growth signals I highlighted above can be linked directly or indirectly to this bet.
Not a month goes by that I do not get asked the following question :
“I saw that movie, ‘The Interns’, is Google really that awesome?”
to which my reply is something along the lines of:
“Lets just say that a lot of it is inspired by true events “
So whats next…?
First : Spending more time with family (my CEO and Chairman of the board)….
Then: Trying to catch up with the big masquerade but this time from another vantage point, there is still a lot to be done with regards the tech ecosystem and I am just grateful to be alive and part of it all
Until my next transmission:
Enjoy this short one from Sound Sultan