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Business News of Monday, 21 May 2012

Source: Oral Ofori

Ghanaian spearheads establishment of Africa's own Wikipedia

Rexford Nkansah is a self-taught and skilled Information Technology (IT) person whose knowledge in IT is mainly acquired through curiosity and research materials obtained from the internet thanks to Google and Wikipedia. Rexford tells me he did not formally attend a school that taught him his skills in IT since his urge to understand computers and what makes them work as far as programming and applications started when he was a young child playing games on computers at home.

As he grew older, so did his interest in the IT and its related field, hence he resorted to studying more about IT online by reading wikis, partaking in discussions and sometimes watching tutorials of certain technologies. He will usually sit behind his PC watching study contents he has downloaded online that helped him keep up with the IT world.

Another other reason why Rexford got into IT was because his senior brothers were into it and that was motivation enough besides the fact that the information technology age is quickly and obviously pointing to the fact that computers are taking over everything. Basically all facets of human life from education, medicine, finances, communications and politics have this or that kind of computer program or software or machine that is making it easier with the invention of new programs and applications to do things in seconds every day.

Born in Ghana's Northern regional capital of Tamale, Rexford currently lives in the country's Eastern Regional capital of Koforidua where he involves himself with IT related social work such as the Wikipedia project and other sister projects that keep him occupied and also help him broaden his horizon and study in the IT field. Thanks to knowledge acquired from these resources, this young Ghanaian has been able to teach himself to do 3D art work and is on the brink of starting a very first of its kind business as a freelance 3D artist. See samples of his work for yourself here: http://3dghana.webs.com/

Mr. Nkansah hopes to tap into the uncharted market of 3D artistry by becoming Ghana's first freelance 3D artist with the hope of providing a tremendously great opportunity to corporate organizations in Ghana who are seeking to push their products through the markets using interactive and interesting advertisements that will feature 3D. My blog will not provide me with enough space to talk about Rexford's unlimited capabilities, which is why I'll want you to find out more about him here: http://nkansahrexford.webs.com/

When I saw this young man's work and experienced his enthusiasm first hand by talking to him, I felt a strong urge to give him what ever push I possibly could to help him get all the visibility he needs to get his ideas off the ground since he actually does not work for any well established or recognized organization. He is however part of the small Oasis WebSoft team which is seeking to launch the first Africa-made OS based on Linux and working on creating apps to serve the Ghanaian community.

Wikimedia Ghana Chapter is another brainchild of Mr. Nkansah with which he hopes to create an information portal that is for and about Ghana and Ghanaians. Wikimedia is not simply going to be relied on by Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians alike for authentic information relating to Ghana, but will also rope in Wikimedians living in Ghana to help create this information storehouse in the Ghanaian languages as well. A major objective of Rexford's dream for Wikimedia Ghana will be to embark on converting outstanding knowledge from the worldwide Wikis into Ghana's own native languages. The effort has already been started by Rexford and other like minded Ghanaian partners. You my dear reader also need to join hands in making this a major success. Become a major part of Ghana's Information age history by finding out more for yourself about Wikimedia Ghana Chapter: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Ghana

As I blog presently, I can't honestly mention up to 5 people who I can say are very interested and dedicated to Wikimedia Ghana Chapter, with the exception of Rexford; the brain behind it, Ebenezer Frimpong; who is a Ghanaian living in Ukraine and a friend of Rexford who is also a Wikimedian and myself who is trying to blow the trumpet for this whole project by getting fellow Ghanaian Wikimedians all over to be interested and hopefully, the current government as well. To Rexford it is sad that many people are not as interested in this as there needs to be because a majority of Ghanaians do visit the Wikipedia search engine and other sister projects very often, but have not taken it upon themselves to also share in the provision of knowledge by adding contents and making edits, this is something we're hoping to change by encouraging more of the latter.

Speaking on the major long-term benefits to be derived from the success of Wikimedia Ghana, Mr. Nkansah says it will enhance and create commitment to the growth, development and distribution of free education materials and media which is an essential part in the education of Ghanaians and Africans at large. This is because by being able to provide free content to all, knowledge will be more abundant, thereby facilitating the amount of information our students and researchers are able to have easy access to and also share. The bigger picture will also be that the success of this project in Ghana will also see Ghana encouraging and providing expertise and where possible, funding in helping neighboring African countries to also establish their own local wiki chapters.

Growth in the global IT field is traveling at lightening speed, especially in the developed countries, the opposite however is not true in the so called third world countries which are experiencing growth at a snail's pace. Some of the reasons for this slow growth particularly in Ghana and generally in Africa in Rexford's opinion are these gigantic factors--Africa's poor and indecisive Internet connectivity and the continual fluctuating or outages of electricity supply to customers paying ridiculously high bills to both service providers.

Even though there are currently half a dozen big name telecoms/Internet service providers in Ghana today, Internet charges are so high and connectivity so poor that one needs to struggle to get connected to the Internet which is most often than not running at a very slow speed. This problem is not only peculiar to Ghana as the same is true across most parts of Africa.

Solving this crippling problem to Africa's IT growth is going to be very vital if the continent is going to (ever) catch up with its Western counterparts, Rexford is therefore making a passionate plea to Ghana's government and those across all of Africa to ensure that Internet service providers are doing a better job and above all energy firms are up to the task and giving subscribers their money's worth. This will in the long turn bring Africa out of the doldrums in which it finds itself today and place it on the global stage of competitiveness in the information technology age.

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