In December 2018, the first official Google Developer Group (GDG) DevFest was held in Conakry, Guinea for a group of over 300 attendees including students, professionals, and community organizers. DevFest Conakry is the largest conference of its kind ever held in Guinea. This is the story of that historic event.
More background information and history on GDG Ratoma in Conakry can be found in my previous post about organizing a community conference and two-day workshop in Guinea.
Republic of Guinea
Guinea’s mineral wealth makes it one of Africa’s richest countries, yet its people are among the poorest in West Africa. Some of the most serious challenges include under-developed infrastructure, hyper-inflation, and regional instability.
Despite these significant challenges, the people of Guinea are incredibly warm and welcoming. The country is not a popular tourist destination, but it is frequently visited by musicians and dancers from all over the world thanks to its vibrant music culture.
French is the official language, but there are over 40 different languages spoken in Guinea including Malinke, Susu, and Fula. The tech community, though still emerging, is full of highly motivated and determined individuals who are eager to learn.
GDG Ratoma’s DevFest
DevFest is a global series of community tech conferences organized by local GDG chapters all over the world. The content focuses on technology trends and Google projects including Angular, Flutter, Google Cloud, and Android.
GDG Ratoma is the largest active GDG chapter in Guinea. The group was formed in April 2018 and already has over 800 members in its first year. The group is lead by Kouame Kan Romeo Kouame along with an international team of organizers, including myself and Sarah Lensing of Snap, Inc.
The newly-formed group was eager to make their mark and started planning the first-ever GDG DevFest in Guinea. Team members located in Guinea organized logistics including space, A/V, promotion, and catering. As international co-organizers based out of New York, Sarah and I assisted with speaker selection, content programming, and sponsorship. International sponsors for the event included Google Developers, Button, and Snap, with additional support from local companies including Word Consulting, HETEC, and HDMS.
The planning for Devfest Conakry came to fruition on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at the beautiful Université Kofi Annan de Guinée in the Malick Condé cultural center. The cultural center is situated in the heart of the sprawling campus and has a colorful and inviting exterior.
Inside the Malick Condé cultural center, the main hall seats up to 1,500 participants. The DevFest had over 300 attendees, and we hope future events can fill the entire room!
Kouame, GDG Ratoma leader, opened the conference with a DevFest overview and discussed why technology education is so important to creating new economic opportunities in developing countries like Guinea.
Throughout the day, nearly a dozen local and international speakers presented their unique insights. The talks covered a range of topics including web development, data science, project management, security, and Android.
Lunch Break and Group Photo
The event was free for all 300 participants including lunch, thanks in large part to generous sponsorships and individual donations. After lunch, everyone gathered in the courtyard for a group photo.
Following the group photo, Hamidou Bah, GDG Conakry co-organizer, led a code lab where he walked participants through building their first Android and iOS application using Flutter.
After the final workshop was complete, all the organizers and volunteers were invited on stage to recognize the monumental efforts that made the event a success.
Of course, no landmark event such as the first DevFest in Guinea would be complete without an appropriate celebration. A few days after DevFest, we held the official DevFest Conakry 2018 Doundounba, a traditional style of drum and dance party.
2019 and beyond…
The first DevFest Conakry was a resounding success, unlike any event of its kind to ever be held in Guinea. Planning any conference can be a challenging endeavor, especially in its first year. We learned many lessons that we are eager to refine for next year.
GDG Ratoma has since held another major event for International Women’s Day, IWD Conakry 2019. Not to mention, plans are already motion for DevFest Conakry 2019, and we will have some news to share about other exciting events coming soon!
Want to see what other Button Engineers are up to? Check out all their stories here.