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African Digerati: Neville Newey

African Digerati - Neville Newey

[Disclosure: Though I think Neville is doing some truly unique things, I must in full disclosure admit that I have been working with him over the last year on some different web projects.]

Neville Newey is the second in the African Digerati series of interviews. What he wouldn’t say here, because he is too humble, is that he takes his own initiative to create change. Anyone who has worked with him knows how open he is to discussing ideas and features – this is a rare trait to have in our profession, where everyone seems to get their egos tied up in their work.

Many people don’t know who is the magician behind Muti, that would be Neville. He created it from scratch after he saw how powerful the idea was at Reddit and that something similar was needed within the African web space.

Blog and/or website:
Muti

What do you do:
I am an IT Contractor/Consultant. Basically I work on any IT project either as Technical Lead, Developer, Analyst Designer whatever will pay the bills 🙂 Most projects I am involved with tend to involve integrating web applications with back end relational databases.

What inspires you?
I really like to see technology being put to practical use, particularly in creative and unforseen ways.

Who are some of your biggest influences?
Paul Graham, Mark Shuttleworth, the Reddit team

If you were not involved with technology, what would you do instead?
Travel, Cycling, Hiking, etc…

Name one book that you would label required reading for those in the African technology sphere:
Getting Real by 37 Signals

What emerging technologies are you most excited about?
Broadband, particularly wireless technologies, in the african context this really is an “emerging” technology. Also VOIP and mobile connected devices.

What do you see as the biggest advantage or opportunity for African technology development?
Mmmm, this is a difficult one and again I would have to look to bandwidth and say that right now the biggest opportunity is for companies supplying the basic internet ifrastructure (ie fiber, wireless equipment (particularly wimax and related technologies) satellite equipment, routers, switches etc.) Without the basic infrastructure in place there really is no opportunity for web applications to take place.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for African technology development?
Bandwidth again. Sorry to harp on this but it really is the single most important missing ingredient at the moment. Governments can also play a role in the provision of bandwidth by not being too restrictive.

What are your thoughts on the impact of blogging in Africa?
I don’t think blogging in Africa has had the same huge effect as it has in say North America yet. The reason for this is that in North America, blogging has largly been a response to the lack of good independent news sources. In Africa I believe this is less of an issue as there is less corporate ownership of news media.

I was listineng to an internet stream of SAFM the other day and it really is good quality broadcasting. That type of broadcasting is largly absent in North America and hence the huge impact of blogging. That is not to say that blogging in Africa is less significant, just that the catalysts for its popularity are different, at least in parts of Southern Africa.

5 Comments

  1. Hey Hash,

    This is pretty good. I have to admit that I have always thought the biggest problem currently with Africa is bandwith. My second beef has to be taxation and then closed markets. In Kenya, taxes are levied against the web and entry into the market for startups is quite difficult unless you have lots of capital and you know someone. The progress though is quite encouraging. We are heading in the right direction and Neville is on the forefront. Kudos.

  2. Erik, thank you for the VERY complimentary words. It is really only with the encouragement of people like yourself that I continue to develop muti. This week has seen a record number of different submitters to muti and it continues to grow. In the next few weeks muti will be getting a user moderated comments system similar to reddit’s. I enjoy getting feedback from the community and I believe together we can make muti a world class African community site. Thanks for all your and your readers support!

  3. Josh: Thanks for your Kudos, but don’t you mean “kudus” 🙂

  4. I’m surprised that no one else has picked up, or commented on, this quote:

    I don’t think blogging in Africa has had the same huge effect as it has in say North America yet. The reason for this is that in North America, blogging has largly been a response to the lack of good independent news sources. In Africa I believe this is less of an issue as there is less corporate ownership of news media.

    I find that statement VERY interesting, and am wondering what others, specifically those in African media have to say about it.

  5. Neville is right about the quality of SAFM broadcasts compared with elsewhere. Despite Snuki and his politically appointed board, SAFM is highly informative. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that this is why blogs in Africa are less important or significant. A lot has been said on this subject recently on the ‘Thought Leader” blog. The bloggers seemed to split along colour or racial lines, some claiming that blogging is a white thing. Nonetheless, well done Nev.

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