Facebook Developer Circles Accra Launches at MEST Incubator

Abu Okari | Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

John, one of the co-conveners, believes Facebook Developer Circles Accra can make a real impact on the community.

Last Saturday, software developers in Accra gathered at the MEST Incubator for the first meeting of Facebook Developer Circles Accra, started by MEST alumni John Otu and Oliver Mensah. Facebook Developer Circles are communities for local developers to connect, learn, and collaborate with each other to share knowledge, build new ideas, and learn about the latest technologies. With support from Facebook, Developer Circles have grown in major tech capitals Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Attendees have found new job opportunities, connected to coding boot camps, and more through these communities.

John discovered that Facebook had several useful and interesting tools, such as React, open to the greater community during his time at MEST. However, he noticed that not many people were aware of this and immediately wanted to change this. When asked how he ended up starting Facebook Developer Circles Accra, he says, “I formed a group that used to stay at MEST to hack React Native and other Facebook tools. When I heard about Facebook Developer Circles, I thought that it was a chance to formalize what we were doing.”

MEST Senior Faculty Todd Holcombe sneaks in a picture during the first Facebook Developer Circles meetup at the MEST Accra Incubator

The meeting opened with a hopeful note when General Manager of the Accra MEST Incubator Ashwin Ravichandran stated, “2018 is going to be a fantastic year for Ghana and it’s tech industry.” Ashwin went on to discuss key trends he has witnessed in Ghana’s tech ecosystem stating that the three major trends have been the rise of women entrepreneurs, a focus on building products for users, and an overuse of the term “FinTech”. Ashwin also encouraged entrepreneurs to go for investment when necessary.

Following Ashwin, the conversation switched to React Native with presentations by Chiamaka Nwolisa of AF Radio and Edem Kumodzi of Andela. Edem explained, “[React] is not about the library. It’s a way of thinking.” He encouraged participants to think of how UI Designers build mock-ups of an app and then apply this type of thinking in react.

The meeting wrapped up with a panel discussion on finding employment and starting a business in Ghana’s tech sector, which featured MEST Senior Faculty Todd Holcombe, Stanford Symbolics Systems engineer Hassan Abudu, Chiamaka Nwolisa from AF Radio, StoreFoundry founder and Andela consultant Edem Kumodzi, and Impact Hub Accra Program Manager Kafui Yevu.

The greater goal in starting Facebook Developer Circles Accra is to, “form a supportive community to help people with resources, tools, and more”. Participant Elohor Thomas found it a great place to learn, explaining, “I’d heard about React and I didn’t know a lot about it. Coming here today, I really learned about it. I will definitely use it in my future designs.”

John believes Facebook Developer Circles Accra can make a real impact on the community. He stated, “It’s going to help the ecosystem as a whole. If we are able to build a community and we have the support of Facebook, it’s going to make the ecosystem go places.”

This month Facebook Developer Circles Accra will host its second meeting at the MEST Incubator on October 28th – this time in the form of a Global Hack Day Community Hackathon. Make sure you don’t miss this event and keep up to date on the group’s Facebook page!