A twenty-one-year-old student of the Methodist University College of Ghana has been recognised by the prestigious Guido Sohne Fellowship Award for building a computer operating system.
Mr Reindolf Owusu, a level 200 Information Technology (IT) student, was presented with the award by Free Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) in Abuja, Nigeria, in March this year. The occasion commemorated the birthday of the late William Guido Sohne who developed programme applications in 20 languages.
William Guido Sohne, who died at age 34, was a Platform Strategy Manager who had managed 52 African countries in Microsoft and also designed how to computerise parliament.
The award, introduced two years ago, is a biannual competition to commemorate his work in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr Owusu said he had the inspiration to build his Anansi Operating System from seeing what went on abroad and thought that he could do more to help develop the IT sector in the country.
“I go online and watch videos of what is going on in Silicon Valley and that is where all the huge technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and Dell are based and handled by young people in their twenties like myself,” he said.
His decision to build the operating system was due to his frustration with having to pay for software every time he bought a computer or wanted to upgrade its software.
“I believe that we Africans should not be paying people outside our country, and should be able to develop our own software that will suit our own situation,” he said.
Mr Owusu’s passion for software development started at a very young age after his father introduced him to computers, but was increased after he studied Graphic and Web designing at Vision One Systems, a private school.
“When I was young, I used to sit in front of the computer, delete things, learn new things, and that is what got me started, but then I came to this university to study IT to get the basic understanding of what goes on ” he said.
He added that what excited and fascinated him the most about software development was the ability to programme computers to do whatever he liked.
The Head of the IT Department at MUCG, Dr George Ofori, said Mr Owusu was one of his brightest students and always had the passion and interest to learn more, and that he only helped him expand and develop.
He also advised others that in order to succeed, they needed to work harder and attach themselves with particular programmes or subjects they were interested in and passionate about.
The Principal of MUCG, the Very Rev Prof. Samuel K. Adjepong, expressed joy that a student from his university was the first in Ghana to receive such a celebrated award.
He said the MUCG was bent on training more excellent students to augment the human resource base in the country to help the country develop.
Prof. Adjepong said he expected Africa to take the leap when it came to IT development and called on African governments to make a special allocation of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) into the development of the ICT sector.
“Ghana has made that pledge and I think this award is the talk,” he said.