Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Major developments in the Ghanaian Tech Scene in 2013 - Part 1

Today at the #MomoAccra end-of-year party at +233 Jazz Bar & Grill, +Nana Fosu directed me, the host, to talk through some major developments that happened on the tech scene in Ghana. Lovely idea. A chance to celebrate accolades chalked, accomplishments met and good news lived. I haven't been as present on the tech scene in Ghana due to work commitments at +Rancard but I've followed many of what has happened. I led the discussion to bring out many things that happened in Ghana's tech industry this year. There's more to come, with an eye on the over-subscribed +Barcamp Accra happening on December 23rd at the World Bank office, but let's recap some of what has happened in this year.

The Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Ghana (WASPAG) was formed to unify the voices of players in the tech (especially mobile) industry and help shape policy and regulate the industry. It's also to support local tech innovation. Companies that are part of WASPAG include +Rancard, SMS GH, +DreamOval Limited, Mobile Content, TXT Ghana, etc. The Rancard-built Intel Explore & Learn Education App was launched in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. Rancard (where I work now - news flash) also received some funding from Intel Capital, Peninsula Capital and Adlevo Capital. Fast Cashier, another banking/finance app, in Ghana, made some strides as it receives $500K worth of funding.

The MTN Apps Challenge in Ghana was bigger this year, given the requisite support by the nation's biggest mobile network operator. I love that they had info sessions in Kumasi and Tamale in addition to Accra. The prize money attracted some great developers and as you may know from my blog+kobla nyomi, won the grand prize for his Oware 3D game. Talking about awards, SMS GH won the app company of the year at the Top Apps Awards with its mPowerPayments product winning app of the year. +maximus ametorgoh who organized the awards was on hand to talk about it. SMS GH also organized the first Ghana e-commerce hackathon at the +iSpace Foundation+Alex Adjei Bram - [SMSGH] spoke more about it at the meetup, mPowerPayments has become the most popular payment gateway in Ghana taking MTN Mobile Money, Airtel Money, Visa & Mastercard payments.

The +Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology played host to various tech events including Startup Weekend Accra. ClaimSync became the first Meltwater Incubator company to exit, as it was acquired by Genkey.  +Dropifi, another MInc company and winner of Startup Weekend Accra 2011, was accepted into the 500 Startups accelerator program in the Silicon Valley. The very first MInc company, +Leti Games now +Leti Arts, launched its Leti Center Android app which introduced the +The True Ananse to the world, to be followed by multiple African-themed mobile games and comics. Leti Games run by +Eyram Tawia was honored as one of the Innovation Heroes in Ghana, alongside +Ghana Decides (#GhanaDecides run by +Kwabena Akuamoah-Boateng, +Kinna Likimani and co), +FashionistaGH (#FashionistaGH run by +Ob Abenser), Roots by Naa (run by +Naa Oyoo Quartey) and DreamOval (run by +Derrydean Dadzie). The Innovation Heroes program was made possible by Google and the Ministry of Trade & Industry.

Another of the MInc startups, Nandimobile, won the World Summit Awards Business category for their Infoline service. It also won SMS company of the year at the Top Apps Awards. 2 of Nandimobile's current employees +P.K. Opoku & +Achere Buxton won the Africa Android Challenge for Ghana with their Vuvuzela app and also placed at the MTN Apps Challenge. Its CEO +Anne Amuzu was selected the US State Department's Global Women Mentoring Programme. Its Business Development lead, +Edward Amartey-Tagoe also won the Ghana-UK Based Awards (GUBA) Development Award. 2 of the people Edward beat out to that award are tech community members who won other awards. +regina agyare became an Aspen New Voice Fellow and won the Tigo Social Impact award with $75K in funding for 3 years. +Raindolf Owusu of Oasis WebSoft and +GDG Methodist University College Ghana fame won the IDEAS award by Legacy & Legacy.

Zished, another startup in Ghana - running a platform for gifting, was funded by the Savannah Fund and spent 3 months in its Nairobi accelerator. Its main tech guy was +Truston Ailende, a Nigerian friend who spent 18 months in Ghana. BoxBuzz, an SMS alert app built by Maximus' PopOut, was one of the top 40 startups invited to Demo Africa. We need to have a +Demo Africa or +Pivot East type event in Ghana in 2014. We've seen many pitch type events but we need a more grand startup competition that will get even more mileage.

This is only part 1 of what happened in the Tech scene in Ghana. I mostly covered what we covered at the Mobile Monday meetup earlier. Stay tuned for Part 2. "It is happening in Accra!"
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