In a world that is constantly changing, countries across the globe have adopted new technology to improve the way people live. The past decade witnessed how technology has improved sectors such as education, business and healthcare. In response to today’s changing needs, tech hubs such as Silicon Valley have sprung up across the world to serve as centers for technological innovation, venture capital and entrepreneurship.
Though Africa has experienced a major technological shift in the past few years, the region is yet to have its own mega tech hub where innovators on the continent and across the globe can congregate and collaborate on projects that will help meet Africa’s most pressing needs, and move the continent forward in technology and innovation.
When Selvin Sahn occasionally traveled back to his country of origin Libera, he recognized the untapped potential of the youth in his community. As a software engineer in the United States, he decided that technology would be a great avenue to engage young people and a way to leverage their abilities:
“A lot of the young folks are craving to learn new skills, but there are limited resources available to get them started off. Therefore, with Tech Village Africa we can provide resources to help them.”
Sahn also revealed that he observed that even though there are limited resources, most of these youths spend a lot of time on social media. For him, that was a prime channel to creatively invest in them so that they can utilize their online experience in a more productive way—learning skills that will help them get jobs or start their own ventures.
“Tech Village Africa is one of the best ways to give the young people of the continent, especially Liberia another opportunity to take charge of their own future.”
He also had a bigger vision in mind, one that could have a positive impact on the entire African continent. As a result, together with his friends Kodjo Semeglo, a software engineer, Marcus Blamoh, a cybersecurity specialist and four other members, they began to nurture the idea of creating a mega tech hub in Africa. Consequently, over the past two years they created a tech startup company, which they named Tech Village Africa (TVA).
“By 2050 Africa’s population could reach over two billion people and half of it being youth, for me this is a great opportunity to start building a foundation before 2050. With Tech Village Africa, we can build the skill set that the youth on the continent and even businesses will need to grow,” Sahn explained.
Blamoh also expressed that it is crucial for Africa to have its own tech epicenter:
“I feel personally for Africa to have something like their own Silicon Valley, most African countries don’t have a big tech hub where people can go to rent hotels around there and use that place for different technological purposes.”
Kodjo Semeglo also invoked similar sentiments, portraying the need for technological investment in Africa:
“We think that the community needs help and technology can actually provide a lot of solutions in the community. Students don’t have the right platforms to study technology, the technology is not as advanced as here in America or Europe or Asia so who will do that if not us who have had the opportunity to study technology here?”
Some TVA Team members at work: Sahn (left), Blamoh (right) and Semeglo (opposite side)
The team has a vision of building an extensive tech campus on 8.5 acres of land which they purchased in 2019. The mega hub, or appropriately known as the ‘Tech Village’ will be situated in Yekepa, Nimba Liberia. The TVA facility, designed by Musons Group, will serve as a tech service center for businesses and entrepreneurs in Africa who can utilize the resources at the hub to enhance their businesses. According to the company website, TVA “will help promote skills training, provide share-spaces, coworking spaces, resources, research and support.” In other words, other tech start-ups on the continent will not only be able to utilize the advanced resources at the facility, they will also benefit from services offered by the skilled tech personnel there.
As the major premise of the company, Tech Village Africa will also engage the youth through after-school IT programs, training and certifications. Young children and youth will be able to access tutoring resources at the facility or virtual environment and participate in TVA’s coding program. The team is also dedicated to empowering and mentoring women in the tech industry. Tech Village Africa will run an accelerator program for female entrepreneurs by investing resources and skills in pilot projects initiated by women. In order to successfully do that, Blamoh acknowledged that they need female tech professionals to join their team, which has been challenging for them at the moment.
“We really want to incorporate more women to join our team, we believe that things will move faster.” Semeglo also explained that when they started out, they didn’t know anyone at the time but now the team is hoping to connect with more women in the industry to help inspire young African girls to join and excel in tech careers.
Currently, one of their goals has been trying to expand their network in general, in order to gain access to more resources and funding to move their vision forward. Nevertheless, this has not stopped them from taking several key steps forward through self-funding. They have also been able to put together a support team from diverse backgrounds both in Africa and the United States.
The company’s main priority right now is establishing a physical IT skills and coding bootcamp structure in Liberia that will enable them to start providing tech training services to the community there. With their self-funding, the TVA team has organized a fundraiser to help raise additional funding to begin the construction this December.
As for their long-term goal of building Africa’s first mega tech hub, Blamoh maintains that “we are determined and hoping that we will kick off the construction of the Tech Village in the next five years to make this dream a reality.”
The TVA team has a wealth of experience in Software engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology. They are very determined to establish Africa’s Silicon Valley and are excited to inspire and tap into the continent’s next generation of tech innovators.