Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Tag: east africa (page 2 of 2)

Quick Hits from Digital Africa

I’m on the road to Liberia for a couple weeks, so getting up a quick post on some items that I think are interesting around the technology space in Africa.

Hannes van Rensburg goes off on groups that give financing to European tech companies for work in Africa, rather than the local African companies who are better equipped and more knowledgeable to handle the situation. I agree.

“I really have difficulty in understanding how this mildly succesful UK company can make a difference in Africa. Not only is it unlikely that they will be able to re-use the UK functionality in Uganda (Java phones, ATM switches, etc.), but they are also late. Many Ugandan-based companies have already (or are in the process of) lanching their mobile banking services.”

Solar-powered phones are coming. How will they change the power equation in Africa?

How will solar powered mobile phones change Africa?

Matt Berg writes a good post on leveraging internet with radio:

“Eventually low cost smart phones that are able to access the Internet in an acceptable way (think < $100 Chinese iPhone), will represent a paradigm shift in the way Africans connect to the Internet. Until then, a community radio is probably the best way to make the information on the Internet accessible to rural communities."

Zain launches mobile payment service Zap in East Africa. This is their challenge to Africa’s mobile payments golden-child MPESA (by Safaricom). In the past, Zain hasn’t had a stellar record in marketing and simplification of their services. I hope this is different, as the market needs competitors.

Rural internet, not online but still connected

“Internet access might not be instantaneous, but a USB stick driven off in a cloud of motorcycle dust, or bumping along in an ox cart, can often shift more data than a telephone dial-up connection. And with delayed dial up the customer avoids the frustration of slow downloads: returning later to waiting data.”

Coby Leuschke builds a prototype 12 volt mini computer:

“I was most interested in the 12V DC requirement for use with solar systems. I finally got around to building one from a bare bones kit…”

East Africa: Praying to the Undersea Cable Gods

The most recent technology review has a good article on the transoceanic internet cable build-out happening world wide. It’s got a nice little map visual too, which allows you to see where things are (white lines) and where new undersea cables are being installed.

East Africa is one of the last major regions in the world to not have true international broadband (aka: “fat pipes”). Having just returned from a 3-week stint in Nairobi, I can tell you that these cables will make a huge impact on the local market.

Uploading video, watching video, uploading images, sending emails with images, receiving images, downloading applications, uploading zip files, FTP, VoIP calls… and more. All that stuff is painfully slow or impractical to do right now. You don’t realize how much you use these types of service in the rest of the world, until you’re forced to do without for an extended period of time.

I, for one, will continue to pray to the undersea cable gods that East Africa will see this cable by this time next year.

[Sidenote: I know a certain individual is interning at Google doing a paper on how the lack of bandwidth has crippled web business in East Africa. I’m looking forward to seeing it.]

Two New East African Web Sites

Two sites recently caught my attention coming out of East Africa.

Bongoza is a new search engine for Tanzania. I’m intrigued by this idea of a niche search engine by country. Usually I would think that the big search engines would do an adequate job for any area, however it might be different if there’s a human helping to index uniquely Tanzanian content, especially as much of it is in Swahili.

Bongoza: A Tanzanian Search Engine

The sites in the index are mostly sites that end in the .tz TLD. But since most companies in Tanzania have .com’s, he searches on the internet for hosting companies in Tanzania and gets a list of websites that they host and index them accordingly.

Ali Damji is the gentleman behind the Bongoza. He also created the Tanzania Startpage, which is a useful index of interesting Tanzanian websites, and and Mshikaji (which appears to be down). I love seeing this kind of online entrepreneurship and will make sure to watch this space for more from Tanzania.

EA Collective is a new blog that aims to showcase Kenyan designers. I hope that Barbara Muriungi takes their name seriously though and broadens the scope to web designers from Uganda and Tanzania as well. I know I’ll be paying attention, as I’m always looking for top-notch web designers and developers from Africa.

EA Collective: East African web designers

If you’re a web designer from East Africa, you should consider getting your work in front of Barbara for her to post to the EA Collective blog at bkagwiria [at] gmail.com.

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