The answer to Africa’s future in the digital realm will come from creative youth who instead of importing foreign technologies to solve continental problems, will invent tailored solutions for the region.
There are many untold stories of African youth who have created tech solutions and are also empowering more youth to exploit their talents in the tech world.
One such youth is a 30-year-old Churchill Nanje, who discovered his passion for technology in his teen years. Today, the software engineer based in a small town of Buea, south-west Cameroon, is the founder of Njorku, one of Africa’s biggest job search engines.
“Basically, we are like a Google search engine for jobs in Africa,” he told the Guardian. In contrast to other sites, Njorku searches the internet for jobs. It does not host them. That being the case, it can be used anywhere on the continent. “Recently we saw a lot of traffic from Sudan, like 500 users daily. I don’t even know how they got to us,” added Nanje.
The young tech mogul says that he set up the site in his bedroom in Buea, some five years ago. It has since served more than two million unique subscribers in 11 African countries.
Rising beyond the limits
Like so many young Africans, Nanje did not have the luxury of a computer or internet. But his desire to succeed in the area surpassed the limitations at hand. Without money to pay for the elusive internet, Nanje’s future in the world of technology was doomed. However, this did not deter him either.
But he was fortunate. As a teenager, he hanged around internet cafés and the owners gave him free access. “I was just lucky,” he told the new outlet adding “maybe they liked the look of me?” It is during these free sessions that Nanje taught himself to code through the internet.
With the newly acquired skills, he made money, got himself a house, got a business, employed people, contributed his taxes like other citizens and chipped in to help his younger brothers, by putting them through school.
He created his first company, AfroVision, an IT consultancy at the age of 20. Though a success, he soon realized that the company was experiencing a high rate of employee attrition. In a bid to address the issue, he went online in search of ways to replace his engineers quickly. Nothing came up. He had to create something to resolve the matter- hence Njorku.
“We wanted to build a tool that is as big as an elephant. That’s the inspiration behind the name and the logo.” According to Nanje, Njorku means elephant in many Bantu languages.
Currently, Njorku employs five permanent staff.
Nurturing younger people
Nanje believes in nurturing young talent. Speaking about one of his interns named Hope, Nanje says: “When I see him, I’m like, maybe if someone had taken me like this I would have been [where I am] faster.”
To Nanje, young people are a source of inspiration. They remind him of “where I come from, and he [Hope] reminds me of me.”
“He’s smart, he’s a straight-A kid,” he praises Hope “but without guidance maybe he wouldn’t become the engineer he could become. So I will guide him so that maybe in the future he can build the next Njorku or he will build his own Njorku competitor one day,” he laughs. “Either way, it works for me. It works for the community. It works for him.”
Image Credit: NjukengPro