Monday, December 9, 2013

Watching a success story grow - Setriakor Kobla Nyomi

The first time I heard of +kobla nyomi was when he'd gone to participate in the Google Internship program in Zurich in 2010. For an Ashesi student, it's a regular occurrence for one to do an internship with a top-class company or institution for the summer, but this is Google we are talking about here. Kobla was one to watch. I'm not sure I met him in person until I was at Rancard. So now I've been watching him. Late last month, he won the MTN Apps Challenge in Ghana, picking up a cool GHC 10,000 and a trip to San Francisco. Are you going to have a watch on him now? :-)

Sometime this year, when I was thinking through cool Ghanaian apps and technologies, I remembered that Kobla Nyomi had built an Oware computer game. It was a 3D app and on Android too. I googled for info on it and found very little, apart from this Ashesi.edu post and another. So I asked him, "What happened to the app?" He said something like "Oh, I haven't really touched it that much recently". "Please work on it, I want it to be out there, so people can experience Oware in a great way and the app would be popular", I had a response like that. A couple of weeks passed by, and the app wasn't really ready so I took another decision. "Give me the app as it is so I play with it and play the game some. I'd take screenshots while I do so". Kobla obliged. The screenshots ended up here on the +GhanaThink Foundation Facebook page and I saw the kind of feedback I was expecting.

Months passed and the app was still not on Google Play. Setriakor is a full-time software engineer at Rancard and he's tres busy solving problems of scale. He kept us thinking, "maybe if we rendezvous appropriately, he'd be convinced to finally make it available for the Android market". When Barcamp Cape Coast came around, the +Barcamp Cape Coast team was looking for people to speed mentor as usual. Kobla heard of the event and wanted to attend. Bingo! We'd have him mentor some people and he'd do a short presentation about Oware 3D. He'd prove to the attendees that you could take something local and bring it alive with technology. It would be a great example of solving unemployment by creating work as well. Kobla attended the event, introduced many people to game development and many left impressed with his work. He helped get some Coastal TV coverage for National Volunteer Day activities in Cape Coast too. I had discovered earlier on that his father run the local (private) television station.

Later in the year, I attended my first Mobile Monday (on a Friday) meeting in a long time at AITI-KACE in Accra. Kobla was there to present about his Oware 3D game, as well as (yeah guess who) Eyram Tawia who I've blogged about before. Kobla actually was mentored by Eyram in game development too. I facilitated a discussion about game development in Ghana and brought some of my knowledge of this in the African space to bear. With the help of my first #VimTechList post, we talked about +Matatu Game, Rainbow Racer, Ha! Buggy amongst others. Ha! If you want 4 million people to download a game you've built, you can listen to Abiola Olaniran too.

Kobla was building for and participating in the MTN Apps Challenge then. I was impressed with how seriously MTN Ghana took this challenge and engaging with the developer community. They had prizes that would also interest some of the best developers in Ghana unlike the last time. MTN organized info sessions in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale and involved groups like +GDG Ghana as well. The developer community discussed the competition as well with this and that. It would interest you to know that the top Google result for MTN Apps Challenge Ghana is the Terms & Conditions page for the Challenge. Lol. After seeing how MTN has supported  +Afrinolly, I could see how they'd support the 5 winners of this Challenge as well. Our main character in this story emerged the overall winner. Ashesi alum-Rancarder Setriakor Kobla Nyomi won the MTN Apps Challenge with his Oware 3D app. He took home GH¢10,000.00, Galaxy X4 and a paid trip to the Mobile Apps World Conference in San Francisco.

Setriakor Kobla Nyomi went to Mary Queen of Peace Catholic School and is an Mfantsipim alum. Yes, I don't only talk about Presec alumni, but many of you know that already. Aside being a Botwe boy, he grew up in Cape Coast. He does have an Ewe name but he can speak Fante as well as Kwame Dzokoto of Edziban a, dzi dzi fame. He likes waakye too. No, today is not #WaakyeWednesday, it's #MorevimMonday. A day for more vim as you've gotten out of a long weekend and are looking for more motivation to accomplish more this week and finish the year hard. Kobla's is a winning story. I have every reason to believe it's going to continue as such. I'd have a good seat to watch it as I work with him at Rancard. It shouldn't be difficult for you to follow it. 
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