Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Web Technology Guys in Kenya

It’s been a really good day of meetings. I had the chance to meet with Riyaz Bachani, an MIT grad and a real expert in networks and backend development. He took me to see some university students who are trying to build a “network of techies” within Nairobi. It’s a good idea – just like in other tech hubs of the world, the goal is to get people talking to eachother and let the ideas flow.

Eric, Riyaz and Timothy

I was particularly impressed with a young man by the name of Eric Magutu, who along with Timothy Kariithi are trying to build out a commerial based file sharing web application for the local Kenya market. It’s a good idea that has real potential to make money right off the bat.

Ayo AfricaI was also able to meet with Max, who is working with Sam and a full team of developers to build out a truly effective ecommerce application for the East African market called Ayo Africa. It’s still in development, but they plan to have it finished in 2 months time. The Ayo Africa team has soem incredibly good ideas, and I’m looking forward to seeing the final implementation.

Max and Sam

The Ayo Africa guys were also kind enough to let me watch the Germany vs Italy game at their pad. Thanks guys!


  1. Eric!
    It was AMAZING meeting with you this evening, and EXCHANGING ideas. You definitely gave me some things to think about. BTW, I looove your Mac PowerBook. I’ll babysit it for you any time. 🙂
    Any how, we’ll definitely meet again for some more collaborating.
    Pssst…sorry about Germany’s lost to Italy. Don’t worry, France will take over! 🙂


  2. And what a game that was.

    How would e-commerce function in East Africa? Is there really a large enough market with good access? I’ve been particularly interested in the role of e-commerce, and in particular e-communications, in fostering economic and infrastructural development in the DRC. The spread of mobile networks and the very cheap and widely availble access to the internet have been one factor overcoming the generally fragmented political and economic environment of that country. I also know that in Sierra Leone the internet has been particularly useful in dealing with elements of Truth and Reconcilliation, so my interest more generally is in the development implications that increased e-commerce and communication might have for Africa.

  3. Max! Why are you yanking my chain… You know I’m still distraught over that loss.

    Kieran, those are some good questions. The proliferation of internet cafes and mobile phones are definitely increasing the ways people can get online here in Kenya, and also decreasing the cost.

    Max and the guys at Ayo Africa are probably better suited to answer the question, but I’ll give my 2 cents as well. Basically, you have a whole layer of Kenyans who only use their mobile phones for SMS and sometimes to talk – many of them have never been to an internet cafe and barely know what email is. Then you have the middle-class Kenyans who use their phones for everything and get on the internet for more than just checking emails.

    So, having said that, I think that ecommerce will work here. It will work for the company that can win the mindshare of that niche of middle/upper class Kenyans and expats who can afford consistent internet access. The guys at Ayo Africa will need to make sure they do a good viral marketing job to let everyone know who they are and what they do. I think they’re on the right track with it so far.

  4. Eric, Viva France!!!

    “How would e-commerce function in East Africa? Is there really a large enough market with good access?”

    Kieran, East Africa is not exactly in the Dark Ages either. Every country has a sizable group of people who “do” use the Internet or crave more exposure to the efficiencies (marketing, communications, etc.) that it brings. Furthermore, access costs are coming down and by next year, KDN’s fibre line from India is supposed to be completed – according to Eric. Plus EASSY will come online in 2008.

    Therefore, I predict a huge upswing in web use, so we might as well get STARTED now. Right? Do you propose we wait until said fibre goes live and then we started to create eCommerce services??

    I think not.

  5. I am still sad about the game, dudes, but Italy was the better team that evening, argh….

    Interesting post, Hash & Max. Kenya (for a start) is SO ready to go for e-commerce. Let’s see how this turns out. After all, the way I understand it is that we are talking a) about creating a plattform for e-commerce and acceptance for it among consumers in EAK and b) being ready for inet activities when eassy & co hit the kenyan market big times. For all those who can’t imagine such a progress – just look at the boom within the mobile phone market. Gives me reason enough to believe in the power of e-commerce in Kenya and consumers willing to jump on the upcoming e-tech train…

  6. Africa is ripe for ecommerce, indeed kenya could benefit if it markets it’s Agricultural goods goods through e-commerce. The Tea and Coffee Auctions could go e-Auction.


  7. i think that you guys are doing the best opf everything.

  8. Kwani, what happened to this much anticipated ayoafrica.com? It looks like it died before it began.

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