The organizers of Titans of Tech Award – Technology Africa – have honoured the Chief Executive Officer of Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) Mr. Austin Kwesi Okere with the award “Technology Africa Personality of the Year 2012”.
The annual award recognizes those who are making a difference by contributing, either directly or indirectly, to increasing African contents in ICT products and services in the emerging market.
Okere’s journey to where he is today is as inspiring as it is emotional. On completing his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Lagos, he was posted to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for his compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). He wasn’t retained after completing the mandatory one year service but, instead, got a job in a technology company, Tritech. He later moved on, after a few months, to an Indian company where he worked as a sales executive. Even though this company had some legitimate reasons for problems like late deliveries, it was Okere, as the salesperson, who had to relate these disappointments to clients and customers. It was at this point he decided to preserve his integrity and probably try out the business of hardware vending and, this time being in-charge, do it a bit better.
“I felt I could serve the customers better on my own instead of squandering my goodwill,” he said. After spending four-and a- half years on the job, he was convinced that he could stand on his own.
In September 1992, he floated Computer Warehouse Limited (CWL) with $31, 000 raised from five friends. Since then CWL has conquered all obstacles and grown into an intercontinental brand, birthing a partner group CWG. Okere has also established branches in Ghana and Uganda and has earned CWG the enviable title of being the the first partners to the DELL Corporation in Nigeria.
Okere has contributed immensely to the growth of ICT in Africa, especially in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Hardware, Software, Internet, IT Education, IT Security and Telecommunications. He elevated CWL from being just a computer hardware sales company to becoming one of the fastest growing ICT companies in Africa, providing hardware and infrastructure solutions, communications and networking solutions as well as software applications and deployment to all the business sectors like financial, telecommunications and manufacturing.
He has also had the privilege of being invited to teach at renowned institutions like Columbia Business School in 2010, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2011 and 2012, where he told the success story of the CWG group.
Presenting the award to Austin Okere, Nigerian Senator Gbenga Obadara – Chairman – Senate committee on Privatization said, “We are proud of you and you have indeed portrayed Nigeria’s image positively globally.”
With these achievements and accolades coming his way, Okere is not resting his oars. With big dreams of the stuff which gave birth to CWL, his next ambition – when the company clocks 20 next year – is to get it listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. He believes that what separates his companies from successful companies overseas is that the latter run as entrepreneurial businesses for a while and go public. “A public company will also be able to attract more businesses and confidence than a private business. Going public also makes bigger capital accessible from the capital market, so you are not curtailed in your growth. These are the reasons why we are going public,” he was recently quoted as saying.
We salute a courageous entrepreneur who has re-defined information technology across Nigeria and beyond. He is truly a deserving recipient of this award.