The African Hacker, by G. Pascal Zachary

Monday, August 1, 2005

Chinery-Hesse’s ability to build a thriving software business in an economic climate where the need for information technology is just beginning to grow has tested his ingenuity and made him a celebrity in Ghana. While hardly in the global technical vanguard, Chinery-Hesse is counted as one of “a handful of the most important software developers in Africa,” says Eric Osiakwan, an IT specialist in Accra who consults for the World Bank. “Hermann is our Bill Gates, and Soft is our national software champion.”

Chinery-Hesse is thus a valuable role model. “Many young code writers get their start at Soft, learn the ropes, and then hone their skills,” says Guido Sohne?himself an example of Chinery-Hesse’s influence: a former employee of Soft, he now runs his own business as an independent programmer in Ghana. “To us, at least, Hermann is a savior,” Sohne says.

“Saviors” are common in Africa, and they usually come in the form of demagogues or rebel leaders, missionaries or medical doctors, peacekeepers or refugee-camp managers. Rarely are they Birkenstock-wearing engineers or software programmers. That’s why Chinery-Hesse is worth getting to know. Because if Africa has a sunny future, Chinery-Hesse will be a part of it. He is emblematic of the little-known world of African code writers, hackers, engineers, and entrepreneurs who have chosen to live and work in their homelands, persevering against great odds and on the margins of global technological change.
Story found here.

Source: IEEE Spectrum