Zubair Abubakar ‘08: telling African stories through mobile gaming

Long before Zubair Abubakar ‘08 created the wildly successful Nigerian Constitution application for mobile, helping over 1 million Nigerians access their constitution for free, he was developing software solutions for problems at Ashesi. As a student, he developed the first election portal for the Ashesi Student Council, and also created a patient management system for the university’s health center.

Back home in Nigeria, he has continued to create impact in the development space, including building one of country’s most popular information portals; connectnigeria.com. Recently, Zubair has taken on a new challenge; telling African stories in a fun and interactive way through mobile games. This, he does at ChopUp, a startup he co-founded.

“Africa is filled with stories and storytellers,” he explains. “We have been telling our stories through our music and movies for years. It is time to tell these stories through computer and mobile games, and we intend to lead the way.” 

ChopUp develops locally relevant games that tell the African narrative, expressing stories that people can easily relate with, and for non-Africans, a window to learn about the African culture. “We are inspired by everyday lives of people,” he said. “And we would like to bring a fresh perspective to mobile gaming by infusing African themes.”

A few years down the line, ChopUp has established itself as a clear leader in the mobile gaming space in Nigeria. In 2015, it was one of the winners at the Airtel Catapult-a-Startup initiative, receiving funding and technical support to help expand their business.

Growing up in Nigeria, Zubair, who is a TEDGlobal fellow and a social entrepreneur, was drawn to Ashesi after hearing about the institution’s founder. “I simply fell in love with Patrick Awuah's story; for someone to leave a well paying job at one of the biggest companies in the world to setup a university, that was super inspiring to me,” he said. “Also he being a former Microsoft engineer, I was certain the computer science program would be solid. I also liked the leadership and community service approach Ashesi has to learning.” 

For Zubair and his team at ChopUp, which now has a user base of nearly 1 million gamers, their objective is clearly defined. “Our goal is to be largest mobile gaming company in Africa,” he says.