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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Happenings on the Web Front Around Africa

Worldclass Brand Monitoring Service from South Africa

South African marketing firm Quirk has launched a new brand monitoring service called BrandsEye. Global firms like Ogilvy, Standard Bank and the South African Tourism Board are already using it. I’ve yet to try it out, but Quirk is a solid company, and they have good companies already using it, so that’s promising.

Custom/Premium WordPress Themes out of South Africa

I’m a big fan of WordPress and all the customization and businesses that can grow out of it. A couple South African guys have been working in this space for a while, and have a great premium (meaning you pay money for them) themes offered at the new website WooThemes. (Adii, Mark, Magnus and Elliot have a great eye for detail, a boatload of experience with WordPress, and continue to impress on the international level.)

Google Launches an Africa Blog

Joe, head of Google Kenya, launched the Google Africa Blog last week. I’m sure all of us will be watching it with interest. No comments allowed though, which is kind of lame.


  1. Thanks for the kind words and mention of WooThemes… 🙂 Currently I’m the only SA-resident, as Mark is of course living in the UK (and missing our lovely shores every day), but I started Premium News Themes last year, which has now evolved to WooThemes… So it is technically a SA project… 😀

  2. Interesting that Google goes so far as to specifically define which countries are included in its ‘sub-Saharan’ Africa blog. Not included is Sudan, even though every country, surrounding it, other than Egypt, to the North, is included. This must have been very purposeful. Is there a Google blog for Sudan? I wonder if they are deciding to avoid it for PR reasons. But it’s not like Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Chad are not potential PR hotbeds any less than Sudan.

  3. Taylor are you serious? Are you really equating the situation in Sudan to countries like Kenya and Uganda? Here’s a clue: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article21501

  4. Chris, easy man. If anyone here has compassion toward Sudan, I’m definitely on that boat via the fact I’ll be moving my family to the South to live for the rest of my life potentially.

    I am not comparing the situations. What I am comparing is the potential PR mess from a business perspective. Chad had an attempted coup and still has a rebel issue (not to mention a Sudan issue), Somalia harbors nearly all the modern day pirates, has had no central gov’t for how long? just killed the top UN official there, Uganda has the LRA issue and Kenya just had the election crisis not to far back that narrowly avoided turning into an all out civil war (the whole reason Ushahidi was dreamed up originally).

    My whole point is that I’m trying to explore why Google would leave Sudan out. Any ideas? If you think my theory is flawed, please throw out a better one.

  5. I have to commend Google on their entry into Africa. Google’s mission from the start has been to organize the worlds information and monetize it, and so far they’ve done it better than anyone else ever has.

    Taylor, Google has been anticipating the kind of situations you’re talking about from the beginning – why else would they have hired a Human Rights lawyer (Elliot Schrage) as their PR chief? What is more interesting is that the same guy recently defected to FaceBook from Google, but that’s another story.

    What I’m really wondering is if perhaps Africa is Google’s corporate/social responsibility experiment? Google won’t be the first company to do that. Or maybe an outpost in the wild west of the digital frontier? Who knows… One thing is for certain though – the $350 prizes for the East Africa Google Gadget competition might be a hint at their level of commitment.

  6. @David

    Personally I think the people at Google recognized the fact that they had virtually no presence in a region that has nearly a billion people and growing influence in the world. It’s either ‘get in’ early or spend billions of dollars brokering deals later like they did in China. I do think (and hope) they have a lot to offer as far as jobs, education and technology but the bottom line is they’re there for the market potential. Safaricom is just a blip on their radar but it’s still an example of a competitor doing well in a place where they aren’t.

  7. @Jon Gos

    I agree – they’re definitely in Africa for the market potential. I think what I’m trying to wrap my mind around is Google’s strategy. Google itself is/was a software company, and most software companies have never really needed to be in any country or location apart from the one the actual development work was being done in. Now Google is making some major strides into the Brick & Mortar world with its mapping initiatives which separates it from software companies of before – because this actually requires them to go out into the field; an effort to bridge the virtual and actual.

    On another hand, maybe they’re realizing what the open source community has known for ages – developing software for the global economy can only be done collaboratively – with anyone and everyone.

  8. @ David

    I’ve noticed that they’ve been opening either administrative offices or data centers all over the world for the past few years. I think they’re aiming for market dominance in every place that has a working computer. There’s some great info on their market stranglehold at RWW (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_70_percent_market_share.php) today.

    The other thing on Google’s mind is probablly how to move their products into a revenue stream other than Advertising. Steve Balmer is always quick to criticize them on that. They have some server solutions, the GIS and mapping stuff, and others like Google Checkout which even combined probablly make up less than 1% of the money they make. The fact that they’re dabbling in these areas means someone there is thinking about diversifying at some point down the road.

    Also, since they started getting into buying up bandwidth to offer free Wifi, maybe they’ve realized what an incredible thing that be for Africa.

  9. What I do know is that Africa forms a central part of google.org’s focus – in other words google is trying to use some of its foundation money to drive economic development in Africa. This been said – they believe in SME’s and other capital formation efforts – it would only make sense that google invest and support African technological ingenuity. And – most American companies have ignored Africa as a potential market, it is smart of google to get in there and start trying to understand the market and what drives it.

  10. i wrote about this too at techmasai.com

    i think in the long run this will have a significant effect on the web scene in Africa

  11. Hi there Hash. I really like the new look. It is fresh and innovative.

    Jon Gos, I am in agreement with you as to why Google is doing the Africa blog. They might not have figured out how to reap big profit yet in Africa, outside of the google ads platform, but I’ll bet that they have something in the making.

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