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09.10.2008 Technology

Ghanaian changes the face of African computing

By The Statesman

Computer technology used to be manufactured in advanced countries, with producers gaining a reputation as the big-time inventors of 21st century. 

For a long time, the ability to use their technical knowledge to bring about change has been the exclusive preserve of engineers from these advanced countries, and this, in turn, has pushed such nations to their present stage of technological advancement. 

But the African - and, for that matter, the Ghanaian - has long been trailing in this regard.  Technological innovation has not been a strong point for Ghanaians, and it therefore comes as welcome news that a citizen of Ghana has made significant steps in this field.

Head of Futuregen Computers and Software Limited, Ardiabah Anthony is a Ghanaian with a vision.  For six years, his company has been producing laptops with unique features, enabling them to function in hot, African climates.

The problem with most ordinary laptops, when used outside the temperate climates for which they were designed, is that they are prone to over-heating.  Whilst the computer is idle, the fan is not programmed to run, only being activated once the computer is functioning and the thermostat regulator has reached its maximum threshold.

When the fan is eventually enabled, its cyclical motion generates heat, which dissipates into the processor.  The longer the machine runs, the more heat is generated, and the more the fan struggles to cool the laptop.  This, coupled with the increased outside temperatures of a tropical climate, often damages the computer, causing it to overheat, or fail to operate entirely. 

Having observed this problem, Mr Anthony decided to develop a machine that would be capable of withstanding higher temperatures, enabling its use in tropical climates such as Ghana.

In a move of technological innovation, the Ghanaian engineer designed a machine that can run without the use of a thermostat, instead relying on the doubled cooling power of high-velocity fans.  These fans are programmed to run continuously, preventing the temperature within the processor and video card from rising beyond a certain point.

Futuregen laptops are also fitted with a structure known as the Micro-Filter, which is installed at the back of the machine, preventing dust from entering the laptop. In addition, copper components are used within the laptops, rather than the usual aluminium, due to copper's superior heat-dissipating properties.

The benefits of Mr Anthony's invention are many.  Without the issues of excess heat generation, Futuregen laptops are more energy efficient than their predecessors, requiring less battery power and operating on a lower voltage. 

Furthermore, other heat-related problems such as computer speed and incidents of screen-freezing have been addressed, allowing greater productivity and efficiency.

After six years of development, Mr Anthony's laptops are finally being introduced to his native Ghana.  The benefits of his work will be far-reaching, and are expected to transform Ghanaian computing.  With the availability of energy efficient, low heat, fast laptops, access to computer technology will be greatly increased, aiding businesses, private individuals and education. 

But Communications Minister Benjamin Aggrey-Ntim who was excited at the ingenuity of the engineer assured Mr Anthony that government has comprehensive plans to motivate private sector operatives who show such great skills in developing their own technology.

He said government will assist small scale entrepreneurs through the various microfinance institutions to enable them expand their businesses.

The Minister advised private sector operatives to take advantage of the existing market opportunities to make their presence felt, not just in Ghana, but throughout the sub region and other parts of the world.

Ghana has finally made its mark on the field of technological innovation, proving that the African has the same ability as his developed neighbours to invent, manufacture and improve the lives of his fellow citizens.