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General News Mon, 7 Jun 2010

Ghanaian developers excite Google

Senior Google executives are enthused about the level of training and education of Ghanaian web developers, which they say makes the country an icon in the technology world.

Google’s Vice President of Engineering for Europe, Middle East and Africa region, Dr. Nelson Mattos, told B&FT in an interview in Accra that the decision of the company to set up a local office was largely informed by the abundance of skilled workforce in the technology sector as well as the commitment of government to the development of the sector.

“Ghana has a large population of highly qualified individuals and Ghanaians are pioneers and technology savvy. The country was the first to connect to the world (internet) in Africa so we see Ghana as a role model for the adoption of internet in Africa,” he said.

Last week more than a dozen Google senior executives, engineers and product developers were in the country for a two day developer and technology entrepreneur outreach in Sub Saharan Africa.

The outreach programme dubbed G-Ghana brought together developers, technology entrepreneurs and marketers to focus a day on Google's technical programming tools for developers with the second day being dedicated to building, optimizing and promoting businesses online.

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The event also served as a platform to discuss the future of web application development and learn technologies to aid in creating them locally.

Dr. Mattos explained that the outreach programme was geared towards educating application developers to use technology and open source to create new web solutions that will be beneficial to local businesses.

And from what transpired at the G-Ghana show, Dr. Mattos said: “The level of training and education in Ghana is very good.”

He said Google office in the country, which is led by Estelle Akofio-Sowah, was working on three dimensions: making the internet relevant to Ghanaians, make internet affordable and also bring new products that will better serve Africans.

He said though Google products developed internationally is still very relevant to people here on the continent, they want products that wills specifically address challenges on the continent.

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In a related development, a 12-year old pupil of the Morning Star School in Accra, Kwabena Asumadu has been crowned the national winner of the Doodle 4 Google ‘Love Football’ competition.

He is now one step closer to being a global winner as he emerged top winner in the doodle for Google National championships. He will have his logo design on the Google Ghana homepage for a day - www.google.co.gh-, which will be seen by millions of people. He will also receive a laptop, Dongle, Printer and a framed copy of his winning doodle.

Kwabena beat off strong competition from over 300 other children from around the country who entered the competition to design a Google Doodle around the theme ‘Love Football’. Entrants also provided a supporting statement outlining their passion for football in line with the theme.

The Google Ghana team chose Kwabena’s doodle, with the supporting statement “the pivot of the game!” as the overall winner after thoroughly vetting and evaluating all entries that were submitted last month.

To celebrate his success, Kwabena was invited alongside 39 other finalists to attend an exclusive event at the planetarium in Accra where they engaged in exciting activities in the arts as well as fun and games.

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All the finalists had a chance to interact with the Google Ghana team before attending a prize giving event where Kwabena was crowned winner.

He commented: “I am so excited that I have won this year’s competition and I can’t believe that my design is going to be on the Google Ghana homepage for millions of people to see. All my friends and family are so happy that I have done so well and I’m excited that my doodle will be among those competing globally.”

The Google Country Lead, Estelle Akofio-Sowah said: “The standard of entries in the Doodle 4 Google: Love Football were outstanding and mostly because most of our kids are excited and proud to have the world cup come to Africa. This exercise has shown great wealth of talent of our kids today. Kwabena's doodle shows true artistic ability and creativity that needs to be harnessed in many more kids like him in our schools.

Source: B&FT