Every morning in Africa, a Gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning, a Lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest Gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Lion or a Gazelle, when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
In the spirit of technology meet society, the Nairobi Incubation Lab (Nailab), based in Nairobi is slowly rising among the ranks on technology hotspots in the growing economy of Kenya. This is attributed to the booming of ideas that young Kenyans have to offer, with most of them focusing on mobile applications.
The Nailab, which supports smart and business savvy entrepreneurs turn their ideas into viable businesses plays host to the Tusqee Systems team, a group of young Kenyans that have developed a short message service (SMS) based information sharing portal that makes sure school communications get delivered straight to parents and guardians’ phones.
Tusqee systems which scooped the top prize of Kshs 3 million in investment at the IPO48 event last year got a chance to be interviewed by the BBC news desk, on how their application is transforming the education sector.
The NaiLab is the fourth centre to be set up in Kenya in less than two years after iHub, University of Nairobi’s FabLab and Strathmore’s – iLab as technology firms seek talent to launch new softwares for use in smartphones and computers.
It is worth noting that earlier this year, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was in Nairobi and expressed interest by the mobile handset manufacturer to establish a regional research and development centre in Nairobi in an effort to capture the growing number Kenya’s software developers to cultivate applications for its African market.
Tusqee Systems have also been featured in a number of local dailies in Kenya, thanks to their information system that integrates the Internet and SMS technology to relay academic information for each student, to the parents.
SMS system boosts record keeping in schools
Young Kenyans win at IPO48 event
Local innovations attract global funding
New Incubation Centre set up to focus on social media apps
There is money in IT, and this is how we make it
Nokia taps Kenya’s app talent to increase sales
On TED.com I came across a highly discussed topic which I gladly want to share with you!
In a world that is going trough a major digital revolution it may be hard to believe that a part of the world still doesn’t own a computer, let alone use the internet. And it’s not even a small part, it’s actually the majority of the world! 70 procent of the world population, that’s four times the population of India, doesn’t have acces to a computer or internet. This is called digital divide, the gap between individuals and communities that have acces to information technologies and those that don’t. The three most important reasons for not having digital acces:
- can’t afford it.
- don’t know how to use it.
- don’t know the benefits.
Internet is mostly used bij North-America and Europe. Therefore the technologically excluded part of the world is:
- less informed.
- less inspired.
- less responsible
Internet should not be a luxury, but a right. It’s a basic neccesity of the 21th century, a tool for change. These are the words of Aleph Molinari, creator of RIA, a Learning and Innovation Network. RIA has already 1650 computers, 140.000 users and 34.000 graduates. His goal is to provide spaces, connection, content and training wherever is needed in the world. With these centers a person can be digitally included within only 72 hours.
His vision is that technology is not going to save the world, we are and we can use technology to help us. ‘Let’s use human energy to make the world a better place!’
So, what do you think?
When thinking about Africa’s future (which few people really do), one is easily lost in a maze of great ideas, contradictions, inspiring pioneers, disenchanting news reports and ridiculously low quality data. Jasper Grosskurth of STT spent 3 years exploring ‘Futures of Technology in Africa’ on a quest to understand the continent’s next two decades.
The resulting book contains lots of insider knowledge, ICT and energy data, insights into future opportunities and risks, future scenarios, a chapter about learning from Africa, a science fiction short story, and much more. You’ll find the book (PDF) right here.
Africa’s ICT future begins with the mobile phone. The 450 million units in use today are the cornerstones of Africa’s first ever pan-continental infrastructure, reliably and affordably connecting all corners, urban and rural. Internet will follow suit, and so will mobile money (pay and/or earn anywhere anytime) and geo-location services (navigation, tracking & tracing, …).
As a consequence, the transaction costs for any type of data (voice, image, video, prices, locations, account information, weather data, code,…) are dropping from outrageous to global average. Business economics 101 teaches us, that lower transaction costs mean more business opportunities for everybody. Read Jasper’s book (PDF) to add insights about changes in other fields, such as energy, infrastructure and agriculture taking place over the next 20 years and your head should start spinning.
All this has an impact on what 1% of time or money can do. First of all, less of anyone’s 1% input is lost in transaction. Money reaches its destination quicker, information is exchanged more efficiently, increasingly complex projects can be tackled through digital and social networks. And 1% really can make a difference.
However, as the amount of entrepreneurship – for profit or not – in Africa grows, 1% will make less and less of a difference. When skills levels, access to information, the sophistication of African economies and the Cheetah generation grow, the added value of the 1% contributions will drop. With some luck, they will continue to drop to a level, where we see a global 1% community funding each other’s great projects.
1% of Kenyan money and skills will then help a cool idea in Amsterdam to move from idea to reality as much as the other way round…
Contribution by Jasper Grosskurth