The technology space in Africa is growing at an exponential rate. Naturally, the African continent is booming with potential in this sector.
Over the past few months, we have seen a great number of influential technology leaders as well as entrepreneurs greet the technology scene with innovative concepts and inspirational ideas. These African tech leaders are essentially placing Africa on the “map of innovation”.
In order to highlight these individuals, IT News Africa has rounded up a diverse list that features 2014’s most important Africans in tech.
2014’s Most Important Africans in Tech include:
Over the years, January Makamba has become one of the Tanzanian Government’s rising stars. According to rumours and reports, Makamba may be set to run for a presidential position in early 2015. During 2014, Makamba has been Member of Parliament for Bumbuli constituency in the National Assembly of Tanzania.
Before running for the Bumbuli parliamentary seat, Makamba was aide to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete for 5 years. Named Young Global Leader class of 2013 by the World Economic Forum, Makamba comes from a political family; his father, Yusuf Makamba was Secretary General of the ruling CCM party.
In 2013 Makamba was awarded an NDI Democracy Award by the National Democratic Institute, which honours individuals and organisations that have exhibited a sustained commitment to democracy and human rights, and have demonstrated leadership, integrity and courage in their dedication to democratic values and practices.
In 2014, Makamba was ranked as one of the 10 most powerful men in Africa. Additionally, Makamba has played an active role in the fight against cybercrime in Tanzania. Recently Makamba revealed three bills that will essentially enforce Cyber Security Laws, Personal Data Protection as well as potentially protect Tanzanian citizens against Computer and Cyber Crime.
Chinedu Echeruo is a partner and head of Principal Investing at Constant Capital, a West-Africa based investment bank. Prior to joining Constant Capital, Echeruo founded two U.S-based internet companies; HopStop.com and Tripology.com. Tripology was acquired in 2010 by Rand McNally and is now owned by USA Today. HopStop was acquired by Apple in 2013.
Before his entrepreneurial career, Echeruo was with AM Investment Partners, a USD $500 million volatility-driven convertible bond arbitrage hedge fund. Prior to completing his M.B.A., he spent several years in the Mergers and Acquisitions and Leveraged Finance groups of J.P Morgan Chase where he was involved in a broad range of M&A, financing and private equity transactions.
He holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and B.S in Finance and Accounting (Honors) from Syracuse University. Much like January Makamba, Echeruo was also ranked as one of the 10 most powerful men in Africa.
Marek Zmyslowski is the Managing Director of Jovago.com. Jovago is a part of Africa Internet Holding, which has successfully launched other African ventures including Jumia and Kaymu.
Zmyslowski established the first Jovago branch in Africa in August 2013. Before joining Africa Internet Holding, he successfully co-founded and exited two online ventures in Poland. Being an enthusiast of African culture and economic development, Marek moved to Nigeria to become a part of the continent’s online revolution.
According to Zmyslowski, he is an internet geek, fashion enthusiast, and sports addict. He is also a former snowboard instructor, holding a racing license.
In 2014, Zmyslowski has essentially boosted E-Commerce within Nigeria. According to Zmyslowski: “Agriculture and Oil used to be the leading sources of the Nigerian economy, but with the rebased GDP it was shown that these two industries together only account for 37.9% of the Nigerian economy. A bigger percentage of 51% was allocated to services of which online businesses like Jovago.com play a big part of.” He went on to say that “the rebasing of the GDP merely reinforced the fact that Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa, a fact which has been long evident from Nigeria’s booming economy.”
Johnson is a Nigerian technocrat and Minister of Communication Technology in the Cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan. She was educated at the International School Ibadan and the University of Manchester (B.Eng, Electrical and Electronic Engineering) and King’s College London (MSc, Digital Electronics). Johnson has a PhD from Cranfield University. Prior to her Ministerial appointment she was Country Managing Director for Accenture, Nigeria. She had worked with Accenture since 1985 when it was Anderson Consulting.
Johnson is the pioneer head of the country’s communication technology ministry, which was created as part of the transformation agenda of the Nigerian government.
Johnson has earned several public commendation since taking up her first government assignment as minister in 2011. This is following the numerous achievements of her ministry notably among which is the launch of the NigComSat-IR Satellite.
This has helped to complement the country’s efforts at fibre connectivity and the provision of greater bandwidth. The ministry under her watch has also deployed more than 700 personal computers to secondary schools in the first phase of School Access Programme (SAP) while about 193 tertiary institutions in the country now have internet access in the Tertiary Institution Access Programme (TIAP) and 146 communities have access to Community Communication Centers deployed around the country.
In 2014, Johnson revealed that research has shown that the Internet can contribute up to USD $300bn to Africa’s GDP by 2025. In addition to this, Johnson unveiled plans to essentially lower taxes on telecommunications infrastructure in order to encourage companies to invest more on the networks based in Nigeria.
Johnson has stated many times that she, along with her department, is committed to promoting the growth of Nigeria’s ICT industry.
Arthur Zang may seem like any other university IT specialist, but he has used his technological know-how to pioneer cardiac health care in his native country of Cameroon. Back in June 2014, Zang had invented, what is believed to be, Africa’s first medical tablet.
According to Zang, the innovation will allow health-care workers in rural areas to send the results of cardiac tests to heart specialists via a mobile-phone connection.As an African innovator, Zang’s medical tablet will not only speed up the process of sending results, but may also save the lives of many people across Cameroon as well as Africa.
MTN South Africa recently appointed Alpheus Mangale Chief Enterprise Officer. Mangale joined MTN from Cisco where he was the Managing Director of their South African operation. Mangale is a seasoned ICT expert with over 18 years’ experience in the ICT, Enterprises and Public Sector industries spanning Europe, Middle East and the Africa region.
He spent 15 years at Dimension Data where he led the group’s overall technology strategy, marketing function as well as all strategic business alliances for, among others, Microsoft, HP and EMC.
During his tenure at Cisco, Mangale led all Cisco’s engagements across private and public sectors markets. He was also responsible for the company’s overall country transformation strategy with service providers and government leaders.
This year, Mangale was referred to as an industry veteran by his peers at the opening of Cisco Connect 2014, which was held at Sun City in November 2014. During his career, he has established business relationships at various levels within telecommunications (Mobile, VAS, Wire line & Cable) service providers, enterprise and commercial as well as government in order to push the ICT sector forward well beyond 2015.
In 2014 Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, was described by the International Telecommunications Union as the “Digital President.” Social media analysts said that Kagame is Africa’s most conversational president when it comes to social networking. When looking at the social media space, Kagame has the biggest following on Twitter than any other African leader.
While Kagame has an extremely active social media following, the “Digital President” has also invested over $100 million USD into broadband internet in order to get the Rwandan population online.. Additionally, Kagame has been recognised for his leadership role in the advancement of education and the potential of ICT as a dynamic industry as well as an enabler for Africa’s socio-economic transformation.
Among the many awards obtained by Kagame, StarTimes Group awarded the president for his visionary leadership and commitment towards meeting the set objectives of Vision 2020 in promoting ICT and communications technology within Rwanda.
Kenyan tech entrepreneur Tonee Ndungu is doing his bit to address the need for skills and to help enrich the learning process through the application of mobile technology.
Ndungu founded and launched Kytabu and quickly attracted global attention, including coveted support from two US investors who saw the appeal of the innovative subscription service and textbook leasing application that relies on mobile money to lease textbooks, as well as an encryption system to protect publisher’s content.
According to Ndungu, he is dyslexic. He is however, a big audio book fan and gets through them fast. Ndungu got through university with audio books and has had an interest in the delivery of learning materials understanding the challenge it can be for those unable to absorb the generic structure of current education practice.
Ndungu’s degree in International Relations and second in Journalism are in line with his interest in people and the environment in which they live socioeconomically. Ndungu’s endeavors in technology were purely on exploratory terms in 2005; however, fast forward to 2014 and Ndungu is now a respected innovation architect in the Kenyan IT space. According to Tosh Juma, a brand a brand identity firm based in Nairobi, Ndungu is Kenya’s most popular young professional facilitator and speaker. To date, Ndungu now has over 160 corporate clients that he works with.
Isaac Mophatlane was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Business Connexion (BCX) in August 2014. Isaac took over the role of his late brother, Benjamin Mophatlane, who passed away on 11 June 2014.
Before the passing of his brother, Isaac was BCX’s Head of Sales and Marketing and Group Executive of the Canoa division. Isaac, together with his twin brother Benjamin, co-founded what was then known as Business Connection in 1996 and has held various positions within the company over the past 18 years.
Even with the passing of his brother, Isaac intends to take BCX forward while still staying true to Benjamin’s initial goals as well as future plans for the company.
Isaac, as well as the late Benjamin Mophatlane, have also lead the My World of Tomorrow initiative, which is an opportunity for the African continent to converge under a single roof, creating an African led movement of global technological innovation.
RLabs was founded by Marlon Parker in 2008 as an environment for community driven innovation and reconstruction. RLabs creates an environment where people are empowered to make a difference in the lives of others. The RLabs “main hub” is in Athlone, Cape Town but have activity in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
From 2008 to 2014 Parker and his team at RLabs have provided more than 5 Million people with skills training, economic and social support services. To add to this, in March 2014 Parker was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Parker is setting the scene for what social entrepreneurs should be doing. RLabs has expanded beyond South Africa and currently operates in 21 countries.