Many of you either know about, or have read, the paper I wrote called A Web Technology Idea for Africa back in March. Since that time, I’ve been working with Thakadu of Muti and News Map fame to develop the news portion of that idea – it drives our focus.
In summary, we believe that the web can truly impact Africans in a profound way. The trick is to make the social power of the web available to them through both the internet and mobile phones. Mobile phones being the most common technological platform that Africans have access to since the mobile explosion on the continent started in the mid-1990s.
Zangu is the platform that we are creating to make that vision into a reality. Our first phase is “news”, which will be followed by “community” and “search”. Our goal with the prototype of Zangu News is to bring both traditional and user-generated news (ie: blogs), to the masses in an organized way. Our first step is to make it available on the web, then integrate that with the mobile component.
We’ve got some great ideas that we’re testing now to make sure that the news is fresh and relevant each time you visit. Both Thakadu and I (Erik Hersman) are very excited about where the application is going, and can’t wait for it to be ready to actually test.
At this moment we are allowing people to sign up to be Beta testers of Zangu News. This early sign up group will be notified of when the Beta testing will begin and will be an integral part of making it work. We also look for feedback on making this application uniquely African, and know that the feedback from the African digerati will be very important.