Yes, you read it right, a 9-year-old kid sits in a living room at home in the suburbs of Lagos, Nigeria and starts tapping keys on his computer. And it’s not to watch a movie or cartoon but rather to build mobile games. Basil Okpara Jr. has been using a free programming language called Scratch 2 to build games of various genres.
Scratch 2, the language that allows users to create games, animations, and stories online or offline, has enabled Basil to create more than 30 mobile games. In a feature by CNN, the youngster explains how he got the skill saying, “I learned how to build games at a boot camp. Now, I build to keep me busy when I am bored.”
This may still sound almost impossible for you but this is reflected also by his father who signed him up for the boot camp organised by Codefest International in an effort to give kids the access to emerging technologies like robotics and virtual reality.
But the passion for the gaming world had started way earlier as Basil was one who loved playing mobile games so much to a point his father bought him a tablet when he was 4 so he would stop pestering him. “He played Candy Crush and Temple Run a lot.” But with the growing interesting of those games, as he grew older, his father got concerned and this was when he asked Basil why he wouldn’t start making games for other kids to play instead of spending so much time playing them.
But what his father thought was just a statement said in anger, Basil surprisingly took seriously. Since then Basil actively showed interest in learning how to make his own games, prompting his parents to buy him a laptop and register him to learn the first steps of building games.
And even though most of the games are in their raw formats for now and can only be accessed by Scratch 2 users, his father has actually confirmed that one of them, titled Frog attack, will be available on Google Play Store this month. This is as scary as it is impressive to see such young African minds start activities or even hobbies that show a lot of promise for their lives and an example to millions of others out there.
Anyone who doesn’t believe in the promise for this continent will then be shocked to hear that alongside Basil, there are other young children in Africa making huge strides in the tech world. This includes two other Nigerian youngsters aged 12, who are celebrated for coming up with code for building robots that help with house chores as well as a Ghanaian all-girls high school team who won the 2019 Robofest competition by programming robots to stack boxes.
So, with these innovations still coming up, the growing investments from tech giants like Google and Microsoft would surely come in handy to propel the tech industry in Africa spearheaded by these great young minds.