“We’re starting an engineering hub in Ghana” I said. “Ghana? That’s interesting. Why?”, asked the generic European tech bod.
Well, yes it is interesting. But not how this person meant it.
You see, when you find someone with a connection to Ghana, maybe from the diaspora, or with a background in the country like me, they instantly get it. Others often don’t. Let me try and explain.
Ghana has long-since been a buzzing centre for education — people from all over the world come to learn. Private and public tertiary education is everywhere, with stand-out institutions including Ashesi University, Codetrain and incubator MEST.
In Ghana, it’s cool to be clever.
Global demand for software engineering skills outstrip supply, exacerbated by the heartbreaking events in Ukraine. Alongside the human tragedy unfolding, businesses, particularly tech companies, face even more pressure to find and develop talent.
As demand for those skills continues to rise, the UK education system, like many others, has been asleep at the wheel. Meanwhile, self-motivated Ghanaians have been flocking to learn software development skills of their own accord — many tapping a combination of physical and online training with a heavy dose of curiosity and ambition. There’s a similarly to the the way some of us oldies got started in the 90s. As a result, there is a distinct type of individual emerging — connected global citizens who are driven, committed and determined to better themselves by being excellent. Quite different to the stereotypical mañana attitude that the uninformed generic European tech bod expected.
Thanks to a range of under-sea cable providers, Accra now has wide availability of both fast fibre and stable 4G through operators including Vodafone and MTN. My home fibre connection in Accra is reliable and ranges from 50-90Mb/s and costs about $40 a month. This has supported the rise of flexible working, co-working spaces and communities of passionate engineers and tech people. Excellent start-ups like mPharma, Farmerline and Express Pay have matured, leading the way for new ambitious ventures like fintech Dash who just raised $32.8M. If Ireland with 5M people can produce giants like Stripe and Intercom, Ghana with its 30M people can produce so much more in the decade ahead.
What’s so exciting is the cultural crossover — tech, art, fashion, entertainment and sport are somehow closer relatives in Ghana than elsewhere. Within a square mile in Osu, Accra, you can find tech incubators next door to galleries brimming with modern African art. Across the same road you might find bars with Afrobeats stars like Wizkid or King Promise showing up at the weekend to party. Before his tragic death, Virgil Abloh, Ghanaian, was a regular in Accra supporting the arts, music and skate scene. At Christmas, star spotters might see Chance the Rapper, Idris Elba and Stormzy in the same club. If you stay up until sunrise you might catch a Premier League or Serie A player having an early morning kick around the park with the kids (don’t tell the manager!).
Speaking of sport, football is like a religion. The relationship between sport and tech could not be more relevant to us at Monterosa, and having team members that are fans is hugely beneficial.
In practical terms, Ghana has a distinct advantage — the timezone. Operating on GMT means for UK companies either no time difference in winter, or an hour in summer. BA flies a 777 every day from Heathrow, while KLM, Air France, TAP and Brussels all have regular flights from their European bases. Emirates and Qatar fly several times a week, and for US folks, Delta fly direct from JFK and United fly direct from DC.
So while Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa all have bigger tech scenes, it’s hard to rival Ghana’s unique mix of talent, freedom, safety, and convenience. Or the Jollof (sorry Naija friends).
Maybe these are some of the reasons why Twitter chose to open its African HQ here. Why Microsoft and Google both have significant hubs in Accra too. Alongside my connection, it’s why we’re starting a Monterosa engineering hub in addition to our operations in Kraków, Liverpool and London. So far we’ve recruited a handful of excellent engineers and testers who will become a seamless part of our distributed team over the coming months. We can’t wait to get going.
So while Ghana may be dealing with an array of structural difficulties and growing pains, it has a unique mix of stability, talent, global outlook and relevance.
You’re going to be hearing a lot more about the Ghana tech scene in future.
If you’re based in Accra, Ghana and you would like to apply for a role, open roles are currently mid-senior level (entry level will come later) with 3–4 years’ minimum experience:
- iOS (Swift)
- Android (Kotlin)
- QA Engineering
- UX Design
Please send a short, up to date CV to firstname.lastname@example.org — please be patient with us as we work through every application carefully. Applicants need to have a Ghana card, work permit and will need to reside in Greater Accra.