Category Archives: mwea10

Idea Exchange: Opportunities Galore: Blogs, Dust, Eggs, Interns, PhD’s, Oil, Social Media, Weddings

Some open opportunities to apply for; 

(Edit) African Banker Awards: The 2013 African Banker Awards competition is now on. Winners will be selected in categories of  African bank, African banker, best bank (in North Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Central Africa regions),  retail bank,  investment bank , most innovative bank, socially responsible bank,  financial inclusion award, investment fund/private equity fund,  deal of the year, mortgage bank/product,  and brokerage house of the year. Deadline is 11 March.

African Development Bank: 2013 Internship Programme Session 2 – Provides students with an opportunity to acquire professional and practical experience at the African Development Bank and the Bank with a pool of potential candidates for future recruitment purposes.

Also, the #AfDB’s Regional Integration Dept is seeking junior consultants. Apply now.

PhD Fellowships from the African Economic Research Consortium  for people who have gained admission in 2013-14 to selected universities such as Cornell, Oxford, Ohio State or the Universities of Bonn, Sussex, Newcastle and others.  Apply through these university websites before April 30.  
The African Leadership Academy seeks to  enroll the most outstanding young leaders from across Africa and around the world. Deadline is February 28..

The African Leadership Academy also has the inaugural ‘African Teacher of the Year Award’ to celebrate teaching excellence on the African continent. The final 3 shortlisted finalists will be honored at a gala dinner in Johannesburg, South Africa in October in front of media, the headmasters of 100 of the leading schools in Africa, and other dignitaries. The winner of the award will also win a cash prize of $10,000. Nominate an outstanding African secondary school teacher- by the 31st of March, 2013 to

Aga Khan Foundation: International Scholarships – scholarships and loans for postgraduate studies in 2013-14 to outstanding students from the developing world. The Foundation assists students with tuition fees and living expenses only and half of the scholarship amount is considered as a loan, which must be reimbursed with an annual service charge of 5%. Application deadline is 31 March.

(Edit) Anzisha Prize 2013: Has $75,000 in cash prizes for youth entrepreneurs. Details here and deadline for the @anzishaprize is April 1.
BAKE: Kenyan Blog Awards 2013 awards aim to reward and recognize exceptional bloggers creating content in technology, photography, creative writing, business, food, environmental / agricultural, style, politics, corporate, sports, lifestyle, travel, new blog and others.  Deadline is February 1.
Big Brother Africa: BBA 2013 kicks off in May. To qualify, participants have to be above the age of 21 and speak fluent English.
Blackberry: Developers may apply for Built for Blackberry reviews and the $10,000 Developer Commitment before February 18.

(Edit) CNN Multichoice African Journalist 2013 is open to African nationals, working on the continent for African owned, or headquartered, media organisations and with work that has appeared in printed publications or electronic media that is primarily targeted at and received by an African audience. Deadline is 17 April 2013.

(Edit) The 10th edition of Diageo’s DABRA awards is now open. The Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards will recognize journalists and editors who provide high quality coverage of the business environment in Africa in ten categories including ICT, finance, infrastructure, agribusiness / environment, tourism, best business story, business feature, newcomer, media of the year, and journalist of the year. Deadline is March 15.

(Edit) East Africa Philanthropy Awards: The 2013 EAPA awards from the East Africa Association of Grantmakers is now open for nominations in philanthropy categories for individuals, youth, faith-based, community, social entrepreneurs, and corporate philanthropy. Deadline is 30 March.
Egg Hatching Incubators are being lent to individuals and groups on credit, and with no interest charge. 
Faithful Frames: Win a free wedding photoshoot worth Kshs. 15,000 (~$175). Deadline is  Jan 28.

(Edit) Film Mentorship Program: Opportunity for talented young African filmmakers involved in directing, scriptwriting, production, camera, production design, sound design and editing, to enroll in a workshop where they will meet professional filmmakers from all over the world in September 2013. Details here and deadline is 1 May.

(Edit) The International Academy of Journalism 2013/2014 Fellowship program Journalism in the Digital World is now open.  Deadline is May 3, 2013.

Kings Pool Challenge League: EABL’s Pilsner brand is sponsoring a national pool tournament that runs from 21 January to May 4 2013.
(Edit) The 2013 edition of Mobile Web East Africa  is on later in February in Nairobi. Read more about the event.

Nestlé Prize in Creating Shared Value (CSV) seeks innovative programmes, businesses or social enterprises that innovate with impact in water, nutrition, or rural development. Deadline is March 31

(Edit) PivotEast: The third edition of this mobile startup showcase competition takes place on June 25-26 2013 in Kampala, Uganda, and it is open to  all companies in East Africa including South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Competition will be in five categories of mobile finance, mobile enterprise, mobile society, mobile utility, mobile entertainment – and this year companies can submit a product in more than one category. The deadline for entries  is 15 April.

(Edit) Poptech: The 2013 Social Innovation Fellows program. Details here and deadline is 2 April.

(Edit) The Rockefeller Foundation Next Century Innovators Award series is now open. Nominate people or organizations that can win up to $100,000 for solving entrenched social problems. Deadline is February 28

Squad Digital: The digital agency is seeking an experienced digital business director with  knowledge of social SEO, Mobile (e.g. M-banking) 
TAHMO: Design a sensor that measures a weather or hydrological variable (temperature, wind, dust or lightning) and is both inexpensive and robust.  Deadline is 1 March 2013.
Tony Elumelu Foundation: Is seeking companies to place interns with for periods of  8-10 weeks. They should have revenue of $250,000 – $5 million per year and agree to pay for stipends while the Foundation will  cover the cost of recruitment, travel, and accommodation  
Toyota: Dream Car art contest dubbed “Your Dream—The Car of the Future” aims to create an opportunity for children (in 3 categories) —through drawing pictures of their “dream cars” —to develop their interest in cars. Deadline is January 31. 
Tullow Oil: The Group Scholarship Scheme will offer up to 114 scholarships across its countries of operation (10 for Kenya) for the 2013/14 academic year and these can be in engineering & tech., oil & gas economics, business journalism, law, and others. Deadline is 13 February. 
World Bank Africa: Social media internship – apply by responding to the phrase: #iwant2work4africa because..

The Grid Goes Global

The Grid, a mobile only social network owned by Vodacom, has gone global.

First heard about The Grid when ‘Portfolio Manager’, Vincent Maher, spoke at Mobile Web in Nairobi earlier this year.

– The Grid is a mashup of instant messaging, content sharing, location based services

- They target ads by location gender age time of day. Also they use location based adverts. To use LBA one needs user location, ad server that support this (Google does) and application that adds location. This is good for very small businesses e.g. hairdresser, plumbers, and they can expect to see low volume of impression but a high click though rate

– Users don’t need to have GPS to use the service
 as the Grid uses aerial photographs and their own maps (not Google maps)


What is coming next?
- Ambient (mood based) advertising

- Desire line anticipation (plot where you will be and advertiser prompts you to buy later when you get there)

The Grid has about two million users in South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania. It rivals MXit, which dominates South Africa, and was launched in Kenya with Vodafone-managed Safaricom in May 2010.

Mobile Web East Africa: Day Two

Day 2 of the Mobile East Africa that was held in Nairobi Kenya on February 3 and 4 2010.

John Karanja, Founder,, a social media platform targeting East Africans and also a blogger (his blog) ran the day’s forums

Erik Hersman Director of Operations, Ushahidi (his blog) spoke about exploring the social and political opportunities presented by mobile’s expansion

– Ushahidi was born out the 2008 post election violence by Kenyan bloggers (Erik, Ory Okolloh, Juliana Rotich, David Kobia) to use real-time information to track reports of violence in the immediate aftermath of 2007 Kenya elections. It was a transparency initiative that received and processed messages about violence around the country – sent in by e-mail and SMS at a time when there was a state media blackout/reporters could not get access, but there were citizens on the ground with mobile phones
– Their default device is the mobile phone – and as long as you one you can read reports, or send in messages. Ushahidi is based on an open source platform, and run by volunteer teams
– It has been used in Gaza (by Al Jazeera), in elections in India (world largest democracy) and Afghanistan, to track swine flu spread, to track crime in Atlanta, track medicine stock-outs in African countries and most recently in Haiti
– It is simple – it can accept text, voice, video (from smart phone) and anyone can use & adapt/improve it since its open source. It started in Kenya and they have the mantra that If it works here, it can work anywhere referring to Kenya inefficiencies, licenses & low bandwidth issues and then turbulent period

Haiti – most recent deployment is to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake
– First 24 – 72 hours information, they filled in the gaps in the first few hours after the earthquake
– Patrick Meier, David Kobia, high traffic serves crashed, learn by doing,
– Work with state department, coast guard
– Here was an innovation from Africa, help people in Haiti using 170 volunteers from all over the world (organized by Patrick Meier) – USA (Boston, DC, Portland) Switzerland, Kenya Ghana, south Africa, Uganda helping relief teams on the ground make accurate rescues through mapping [when US team slept, African team would work and vice versa]
People were thinking, the faster you can get people on the ground, faster you can save them

Fixing the engine while flying
– Had to get Haitian Creole translated and tagged within 10 minutes to get people help on the ground. The language gap (Creole, French, Spanish are used in Haiti)
– Mark action taken so that no duplication of rescue efforts
– came us with SMS code 4636 (Text your location and need) a free SMS
That anyone on the two large mobile networks could use.
– Ushahidi teams had to translate, decode, locate structure and categorize all this information this in 10 minutes. Used 10,000 Haiti Diaspora volunteers (using Skype) helped with translation and location information
– Too much information to manage e.g. 124,000 messages off twitter. There is a lot of wasted data in a crisis – how to manage that? Used Swift River (Jon Gossier) to funnel, weight, and structure information, to get probability of truth (called the Haiti tracker 2010)
iHub Ushahidi is setting up the Nairobi iHub where they can run situation rooms like for Haiti and also see other developers work on and see innovations develop. It opens in March 2010

Emer Beamer, Founder, Research and Development Director, Butterfly Works (twitter spoke about bridging the digital divide

They are a social design agency (design for social good) who have worked in Uganda, Indonesia, Ireland, and Kenya and worked with Action Aid, Ushahidi, MTN, Oxfam, Media Focus for Africa.

– their Cycle – start with social problems, find partners, do research, then scoping study, look for funds, do 4 day development workshop, take prototype back to people, create local content, test with users, then make final version which they pilot (~3 months) and evaluate – then do 1.0 and implement

Some programs
– Set up Naiorbits a design school for slum youth of Mathare, Kibera, Kawangware that now has 150 students a year and who have gone on to work for companies like 3mice and dotsavvy. They are also setting up addisbits and zanzibits
– Unsung peace heroes – worked with Ushahidi and asked Kenyans to nominate local peace heroes through a cross media program
Learning about living a free health information service via a hotline in Nigeria which covers 150 schools, 49,000 students and 520 teachers
– developing Sambaza Peace (with Nairobits) and which has a new mobile game Get h2o about water scarcity and how that can lead to conflict. They started with a board game (which is already popular), and have to translate it from multi-player to single player (to be on a computer). it works on very many phones (buy not the smallest Nokia 1110) and they will spend another 3 weeks programming the game, hope to translate it for other languages, market it to get young people download it and they need J2ME programmer, and want to make iphone and android versions

Dr Kahindi Shedrach, Medical Director, Angelic Missions Mobile Hospital (e-mail, spoke about how can medical professional can use mobile phone to deliver information and bridge health gaps

Health care gaps in Kenya
– Lack of medical specialist in rural area
– Lack of medical information to prompt people to visit hospital early
– Lack of health to stop abuse of over the counter drugs (have headache, but take anti-malaria drugs OTC which later results in increased drug resistance)
– Poor doctor patient ratio – 1 doctor serves 7,100 people

They will use three technology channels:
(i) Mobile SMS (ii) web (iii) call centre
website and mobile has disease protocols, and a disease registry African Pixel
– have a central data processing centre (CDPC) that will improve prognosis and clinics will consult specialists to make right diagnosis and treatment (by phone or internet)
– increased health seeking behaviors, and get patient present selves to hospital early

– No legal framework for ICT in health innovation – had to open medial center first
– Lack of funding
– Reluctance to embrace mobile and web in health care
– And fear of job loss by clinicians
– Language barrier
– Political interference

Erik Hersman, Emer Beamer, Dr Kahindi Shedrach
How does Ushahidi validate data so it is not fabricated? Done by group of validators who verify, call people before its verified and goes into the system (have to trust the deployment guys at ushahidi. But using Swift River helps with the probability of truth – so the use algorithm then real life editors. in crisis times people usually tell the truth but less so in political crisis
Were you relying on GIS to find people? Can’t get triangulation information from networks – they had to rely on calls, info (unless the person has a smart phone)
Haiti mobile networks knocked out – did that affect ushahidi? First 3 days digital and comcell was out, so info was from people who had other connections. E.g. Twitter was still working. Then when mobile came back on then they sent flash message on the 4636 line
How did you get a short code in Haiti? Call right people – called the CEO of mobiles and digicell gave it to them first
How is using ushahidi? Used in peace heroes, and later building bridges
How will butterfly scale? Can 4 operators handle 120k members – work from home 7 days a week, answering questions MTN gave a subsidized not ideal as it gets more expensive as volumes go up
Intellectual property for the game? They welcome business advice on content business models, a lot of content free, and all workers sign waiver on property rights
What is phase two of the angelic mission? Phase 1 is information based interaction with physician, next stage is automation (web site is tested) where can get a likely prognosis for a website
What triggered angelic? Part was post election violence patients had no advice on health care.
– What is angelic legal structure? They are a company

Cyril Ogana Chief Software Officer, Cymap Business Solutions gave a text book hypothetical presentation on startup (idea know your market, business plan, execution) and (seed, startup, growth, established, expansion, mature, exit) and funding

Liko Agosta Founder, Pesapal and Verviant was next to talk about his companies. Verviant set up e-Commerce sites, but then found most of the clients also lacked a tool to monetize their application, hence they also created pesapal
– Situation: Right now 99% of Kenyans can’t buy or sell online and there is a lot of traffic across town, as lot of people drive across town to pay bills
– Pesapal will be a payment platform that accepts from the 10 million Kenyans – their API can receive payments from safaricom (mpesa), zain (zap) and people will be able to track payments, book hotels, can confirm transactions in one minute. Basically it will enable the unbanked to buy online in Kenya
– Their ecosystem is couriers (delivery guys), mobile payment (in talks with other countries change of currency) and merchants (verify legit merchant and correct erroneous transactions/weed out unscrupulous ones),
– Pesapal merchant benefits: real time payment processing, 24/7/365, invoicing & receipting, notifications/reminders, safe payments. E.g. up to Kenya 80% local hotel booking in Kenya done by cash as hotels can’t sell online. Also they will have a simple system where schools can collect fees from payments, print the payment plan – no queuing in banks, and schools (again, then twice) for people to write a receipt! 3 – 4 hours to pay for fees per child
– Pesapal API, Built by verviant has Pre-built by plug-ink and components that other developers can use this. API is in three offerings (i) Lite: joomla, os-commerce, .net (ii) Software as a service – build for hotel reservation system, have inventory online and sell it worldwide. Also for collecting school fees or rent (iii) Corporate. For clients on other core systems financial systems
– Some of their customers are Totalttoto,,, SAAS (school fees)
Q&A Agosta Liko, John Wesonga, Tech Lead, Multiple Choices (his blog, twitter @jwesonga), Kahenya Kamunyu, CEO, ViRN Instruments (his blog, twitter @kahenya) Cyril Ogana
Why Stringent entry requirement for pesapal merchants? Top goal is to protect consumers and can’t allow bad merchants
Is pesapal pan-African? Talking to Mobile network operators to launch in other countries can you pay pespal in installments? Fee is reasonable and no there are no plans for credit payment plan
Low/high limit in pesapal, micro limits allowed? They are comfortable with Safaricom limits is 100 to 35,000 shillings which will cover most of their transactions.
Non profit big issue is fund-raising? Perhaps pesapal can leverage non-profits to track and collect their donations,
Will pesapal offer product to affiliate sites and can share revenue? Yes
How soon will pespal get the developer community involved? There are freelancer and then the corporate developers – they have strategy on how to work with both within next month (after public beta)
There are 4 other mobile payment platforms similar to pespal – why are you better? We are the only ones; we have good e-commerce team, good links in community. 95% of stuff happens away from website, and they are the best at seeing that.
On standards – We should put out the best code in the world – anything from Africa should be world class, because rarely get second chances? Pespal has world class developers who have worked for large American corporates.
Best channel for start-up promotions? Media today are not talking about start-ups, there are no media houses covering this conference. Media houses will only notice when techies talk and comment about a company
Revenue share with pesapal? Revenue share is they take 4%, similar to pay pal. Safaricom and zain are not their competitors – the more people use pesapal, the more money the operators make e.g. if you pay for rent 12X a year

Steve Vosloo, Fellow, 21st Century Learning, The Shuttleworth Foundation talked about Kontax , a teen m-novel in South Africa developed to improve literacy

scary stats: – In south Africa, 51% of households don’t have a letter book, while only 6% have more than 40 books, and only 7% of schools have functioning libraries.
– teachers says teens don’t read enough, teens don’t write enough and teens love their phones
– The Cell phone is pervasive – it is the default device in the hands of youth in South Africa. They knew that in Japan, m-novel are very popular and decided to try the same in SA – to see if the mobile phone could alleviate the chronic shortage of books

The project to create an e-novel, started with asking teens about their lives and what they would want to read about. They edited the language, content, structures etc. And the result was Kontax about 4 kids living in Cape Town. It was written in English and Xhosa and targeted 14-17 year olds. On the mobi site the 21 chapters were published over 21 days, 21 chapters
It had short sentences, each chapter was not more than 400 words, and each ended on a cliff hanger. They also had built a social network around story (anyone could read, but you had to register to vote or comment). Anyone who signed up would immediately get 4 friends who were the characters in the book and who’s status changed each time a chapter was published – and you could comment on what you think would happen in next chapter? What should character do etc

The results were that they had 300 regular readers & users spread across the country. They tracked them by towns, language of readers, time of comments (some even texted in comments during school hours). Even though the novel was written (and read) in proper language, most comments were in text-speak

When it was published on Mxit it got 30k viewers, including 12k by teens and they got 1.500 ideas for next story (horrified teachers). The Xhosa version was popular and the novel also turned out to be popular with an older age group (19 – 20 years) that were not initially targeted

– Mobile phones are a viable platform for publishing long form text and enabling reader participation the mobile phone is the ipad or the kindle of Africa
– Remove barrier of printing costs, putting information back into the hands of people
– Learning is social again

Michael DeSouza Executive producer of Buzz City spoke about secrets of optimizing mobile phone internet campaigns which can turn average campaign from advertisers into exceptional ones and get the best ROI from advertising budgets

These are based on some facts that : 25% of mobile users access net on their phones, 33% access on PC and mobile, 30% of all internet access was exclusive to mobile and by 2013, 1.7 billion will be using mobile internet .

– Kenya sold 150 million mobile ads per quarter. This is recorded by a tool called Campaign Planner at the Buzz City site which can show advertisers where traffic comes from, their largest markets (for buzz city its Indonesia, India, south Africa, the USA in 4th), Canada, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria – it can also show which channel are getting traffic, which are the top handset models in each market – and if they are on the buzz city social network – their gender, age, location etc. all in real time
– Buzz City targets audience is Upwardly mobile, tech savvy, twenty something with disposable income, enjoys outdoor activity, spends several hours online, and demands more mobile services
– Advertising is simple: you set a price per click (CPC) and set a daily spend limit. You only pay for clicks CPC and can start for as little as $20. You can target by country, network, content, channel, handset, and can put together campaign in about 2 or 3 weeks

Secrets of successful ad campaigns
Things they do
– do A/B testing don’t just have one message – get six approved (including whacky ones) – and see which get better responses
– Do both banner & text, not just one.
– They use conversion tags: put a bit of code show to know campaigns are working
– Use image & colour – take simple message, apply many colours to it
– Have low priced campaigns, mid campaign and high priced campaigns- this will show you the different traffic you’ll get and know where the campaign sweet spot is
– be consistent and recognizable (so you don’t have #consumers clicking twice – which cost you money but does not pay)
– Be measurable: know who clicks, who converts who saw it when and where.

He also spoke about Djuzz an upcoming games portal from buzz city. Developers can put games there at no coats and get good awareness as people can download and share. They have games from major developers like EA Games and titles like Lara croft and tomb raider. It detects your phone, sorts’ games and productivity tools for your phone,

Q&A: Steve Vosloo, Michael DeSouza, Wilfred Mworia, FounderAfrican Pixel and Afrinnovator , and Marten Schoonman, (twitter @mato74) ICT4D Project Manager, Media Focus on Africa Foundation,

Kontax only in mxit? SA kids only know Mxit (it has 12 million members) and they don’t browse the web.
Mobile language usage? Text is good for writing – forces you to be brief. In Kenya, sheng (a mix on English and Swahili used by Kenyan kids) transcends tribe. Shockingly it was the fastest growing language on buzz city mobile portal buzz city mygamma mygamma

What are the difficulties encountered in developing apps for smart phones
Mworiaapple is not getting into contractual agreements with companies in Africa – but you can do the work for a proxy company in US and still get into the apple store
– It is difficult to get an itunes account in Africa (even Orange doesn’t sell them)
– It is expensive – you need a mac and an iphone to test
Why develop apple apps for a small market like Kenya?
Mworia there are perhaps 10,000 iphone in Kenya and most owners get them for status and thus don’t download apps. Still there’s nothing stopping him from developing apps for the 15million iphone owners in US and Europe
Numbers for buzz city in Kenya?
27 million for Kenya in the past month. Top channel is community, second is news & information
Sites for learning about mobile developer tools: Strathmore University’s e-learning and is from a collaboration with MIT University under the MIT Africa initiative. Also Symbian applications can be found at the symbian developer network

the conference wrapped up with an open mike session where anyone could come up and talk about what they were doing in the mobile phone ecosystem

Open Mic Session

Ric Joubert is the chairman of the South African Mobile Marketing Association, the only one of its kind in Africa. He said that based on what he’s seen; they should open a new chapter in Kenya in a few months and is looking for members to join. You can keep up with him through his blog

Jacob Kitinya founder of Petrol Kenya and the Petrol Pump Price Portal. Provides pump price in Nairobi, shows search and Google map overlay. Consumers can search for stations on the highway and see what petrol prices are available as well as which stations have other features like pharmacy, restaurant, ATM, tyre clinic. Tools used are Google Maps API, and Google analytics

John Muthee of GFK (growth from knowledge) – a German research company that tracks sale of electronic consumer goods such as mobile handsets and has a presence in most African countries. Handsets sold vary from country to country due to prices, taxes, and counterfeits. Kenya three years ago the average phone was $100, now is $50. In Uganda it’s very competitive with 4 aggressive operators in the market so consumers are able to get amazing discounts on handsets. In Mozambique the average phone prices are still over $100 while across East Africa 2G phone sales are 98% of the market. They also do network intelligence reports, what sites visited, timing, how many pages, which phones are being used to access sites, what is being downloaded etc.

Caroline Mbindyo from African Medical & Research FoundationAMREF (flying doctors) with a presence in 40 African countries spoke about their E-learning program. It’s a diploma course that started as a pilot with 4 schools around Kenya with 130 students and now has 105 centers around Kenya and 6,000 students with 300 teachers who teach online and by mobile phone. In first year, e-learning student performed poorly than classroom students, but now they surpass classroom learners in their exams. Since 2009 they have done an m-learning (via mobile phone) to teach nurses across the country many of who live and work at health centers where there is very little infrastructure. AMREF developed a mobile phone application after a survey – on phone use habits, features and nurses willingness to spend. They have a .mobi site and for the program, the mobile phone is a complement, not primary source of teaching. The application comprises lessons that can be downloaded to phone which they can now access offline. When new content is added to book message sent by phone online. The content is simple text, and can be transferred to other media or phones or be deleted. The pilot ends in May 2010. It’s now in Uganda, now going to Rwanda Tanzania and Senegal and whereas it started with a grant, now it is self sustaining.

Challenges: it’s been expensive to develop application which is now deployed on 30 handset even on phones of about kshs. 5,000 ($67). they are looking for people to develop more or similar products for m-learning

Caroline Mwaniki of Naiorbits Nairobits spoke about their organization – which was formed in collaboration with Butterfly Works and takes kids from the slums of Naiorbi and teaches them web design – and eventually secured them internships or employment. They are looking for more internship opportunities for their 160 students.

Helinah Muniu spoke about Voxiva which was founded in Peru, and now headquarted in Washington DC. It has 150 employees in 13 countries including Malawi Rwanda Kenya Uganda Tanzania. It’s a software company that performs smart analysis of data – solving the problem of slow and inexpensive one-way communication; Voxiva is able to collect information from smart phone, SMS, email, IVR, web, PC-client (and any device with a SIM card) – analyze the data, and communicate the information back by SMS or to a smart phone. They mainly work in the health and agricultural sectors.

John Wesonga (his blog, twitter @jwesonga) spoke about Coded In Country – CIC which is like fair trade for software development – their aim is that 50 to 80% of software budgets are held in the county where the system is being deployed. E.g. for some organizations now, the field work is done in Kenya people do the field work but the solutions are then built in US and Europe. Their motto is Design under the mango tree so that the solutions to be developed in-house, locally, that work for the particular context. In the case of UNICEF, instead of them doing the design in New York then send developers to Nyanza (rural Kenya), where they may find the solution is not in touch with the ground, they can avoid this by doing this with local developers on the ground. It was initially focused on mobile health now working on software project in general. They want to work with local universities to build capacity in software development, and they have worked with Nairobits in the past.

A member of the Kenya ICT Board gave his perspectives on certification of standards. All (Kenyan) developers need to come up with viable benchmark standards – to internationally recognized standards. They should engage with the Kenya ICT Board on this so that Kenya can export ICT products. There are opportunities for local content, IT outsourcing, be a software house that add value at an international level and they will cluster entrepreneurs at the Sameer Park for incubation.

Andrew Muriungi of Blue Zone Media spoke about their proximity marketing by Bluetooth that has been used by a number of Brands including Tusker in the bambika na tusker promotion. They can send promotions ring tones, soccer timetable news links wallpaper, video, java applications for a period of one month, it’s voluntary (recipients have to opt-in to receive messages (no spam). It is low cost (free to send or receive – no SMS cost) and they provide good tracking and feedback with each promotion they run.

Eric Githaiga of ICT Consultants talked about Kentext which is a bulk SMS for corporates (100 SMS each for testing after registration)

Also A24 Media has local content including video dating as far back as 1940 and want to get their local content online and are looking for developers to partner with. (this was mentioned just before the open mic session)

Mobile Web East Africa: Day One

The Mobile Web East Africa conference is taking place in Nairobi, Kenya on February 3 and 4 2010

TMS Ruge (twitter @TMSRuge), Co-Founder, Project Diaspora (which engages the Diaspora towards African development) ran all the panels for the day; He started at 8:30 AM with a mention on how he took the bus from Kampala to Nairobi, and everyone on board was using their mobile phone, some even with blackberry’s to check mail.

Paul Kukubo Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya ICT Board (twitter @paulkukubo) gave a synopsis of the Kenyan Government’s approach to driving the expansion of the mobile sector.
– The board was formed in 2007 and has a vision of making Kenya a top ICT hub, and a middle class competitive nation by 2030. It partners with academia and the private sector, facilitates, funds, and endorses initiatives (such as this conference). It also advises the government, builds capacity (by skills, funding), does project management, facilitates investment (e.g. technology parks) and markets Kenya as an ICT destination which has however come under some harsh scrutiny this week.
The context in Africa convergence of technology, increasing use of mobile penetration (most young people experience the first internet by mobile – only use desktop for downloads, or sending CV), social networking, mobile payments (Mpesa), and the opportunity to develop applications for export.
The future for Kenya: potential in digitizing government files, and later this year, a grant will be awarded for applications that can be applied in government
Their approach extend government services (e.g. exam results online and by text message), develop a software standard, research the sector, BPO skills development, incubation, showcase Kenyan success stories

Rick Joubert , Executive Chairman, Yonder Media and Founding Chairman, South African Mobile Marketing Association gave an analysis of investment and performance in mobile advertising as an illustration of the mobile opportunity

Mobile phones are prevalentWhat you see in South Africa, will happen in Nigeria, and Kenya. The mobile phone is the most ubiquitous (prevalent) technology in SA [70% of adults in 2003 and (82% in 2009)], and has overtaken the FM radio
– The phone is expanding into government, health care and publishing (SA newspapers, radio, TV are all building mobile presence). There are 5 million internets users compared to 10 million mobile web users in SA and (and less than 30% of the population have access to PC web)
– 650 million AdMob (advertising) requests in Africa led by SA followed by Nigeria and Libya
– More apps are being built for mobiles – .mobi or WAP dominant not smart phone
DVD too: DVD player growth is up in Asia and Africa – in Africa, its as exponential as the mobile phone – showing the impact of Nollywood which generates $300 million per annum – via movies made for DVD (not big screen) with an average budget of $30,000 and which sell an average of 50,000 copies for $2 each
Cheap phones rule: The iPhone number is the No.1 handset in all continents except Africa where 1. is Nokia 3100 and No. 2 is Samsung E250. Understand the reality that the real cash is in simple technologies – (SMD, USSD, voice, WAP), not the fancy applications (pcweb, mobilewebs, mobileapps, smart phones)
Way forward
– continued growth in data usage
– Better quality handsets
– mobile data access charges come down
– need more content
– need more complements – ecommerce mobile wallets, advertising, trading platforms, transactions
Ad market numbers22 million ads per day; $ 8 billion spent on advertising in Africa with just $50 million spent on mobiles in Africa. And in SA the cell phone is positioned near TV and radio by advertisers (for mass market promos).

Bitange Ndemo the Kenya Government (GoK) Permanent Secretary for Information & Communications made an appearance straight from the AU Summit in Addis Ababa. Before official opening the conference, he spoke about:
– The AU summit theme was ICT – as one of key sectors that Africa must exploit to improve economic growth.
– Kenya is through with infrastructure undersea cables, broadband in rural, 10,000 kilometers of fibre optic around the country
– Next step is o encourage local content (where Nigeria is leader) and GoK has launched digital TV in which 40% content should be local (or Kenyan)
– They also plan to create local innovation centres that have broadband, and one is to open up in upper hill [but Nairobi iHub is already up]
IT changes in Kenya – 500 laptops sold per day up from 20k a year and laptops which used to cost $1,000 are now $200.
Nokia and World Bank are going to create mobile laboratories in Kenya

Eric Cantor, Director, of AppLab Uganda, talked about challenges in delivering critical information to those who need it most and developing mobile-based services that allow people to access information in critical sectors
– Applab, a joint venture between MTN Uganda and the Grameen Foundation, is trying to reach the 95% who don’t have i-phones and blackberrys
– Use partnerships – Google, MTN, and local NGO’s (which understand community has networks that can do tests). Along with two other centres in Indonesia and Ghana (focus on health) they aim to have phones improve lives by focusing on the poor
– using Google, found that people are interested in Health, agriculture, markets – so they now have Community knowledge workers (CkW) to help small holder farmers, do surveys, collect information to improve crop yields and improve markets [funded by a Gates Foundation grant]
– a lot of hype around mobile (outpaces reality)
– too many pilot projects (everything wants to be tested, poor chance of going to scale)

Fix this by
– Better Technology. Working with SMS is very challenging and very expensive – its ,better to work with voice which is more comfortable while e-mail not good in places where illiteracy is high. Popular phones are the Nokia 1100 ($29) and 1680 ($60) but there needs to be a $40 smart phone, with GIS capabilities (cheapest is currently $250) – Nick Negroponte brought down laptop prices 80% and the same needs to happen in smartphones
– Get back to the 4P marketing of mobiles; is should be serious but fun, products have to be distributed (MTN road shows to sell phones), know your customer etc.
Better operations – NGO’s believe they can do it all by themselves – instead they need to form partnerships and leverage e.g. on private sector mobile or drug companies who can bring things to scale. Also they should operate more like businesses – drive a hard bargain and don’t give things away

Looking ahead
– Bandwidth price is dropping
– Handset innovation has to be near (local?)
– Be flexible and patient
– Measure it to manage it. Not just pilot projects – if pay out is improvement in peoples lives, you have to prove it

Q&A Featured Rick Joubert, Eric Cantor
– When is the end of SMS and USSD when? Probably will be prevalent for another 3 to 5 years. The economics will change as data as this gets more sophisticated and the $20 phone has internet and there is still an opportunity in java, J2Me e.g. Mixit in South Africa
– When will i-phone be dominant phone in region? Even if we can get smart phones recycled, it will be a while before iPhone is dominant. Note that MTN has 90% internet coverage in Uganda but there is very little traffic on the network now
– What are barriers between local developers to rolling out applications in the marketplace? Joubert – On the business side Vodacom is doing the same at apple app-store, Safaricom can also be a part of that (a Safaricom app-store?). Cantor – (i) lack of locally relevant content (ii) handsets not ready (iii) sustainability – can it pay for itself? (iv) Ad agencies in Africa are not ready
– Nokia Rep says you can create an app, and sell it through an Ovi store

Peter Arina Chief Operations Officer at Safaricom spoke about the operator perspective and what is being done to drive mobile internet usage to make it more mainstream while, he said, trying to avoid giving information that competitors can use
– Kenya has 19 million subscribers (15 million on Safaricom).
– Majority of subscribers are not users of data; 70% use less than kshs 20 on data – and 50% live below the poverty line
Main challenge is the cost of data – why? .
– Cost of hardware – Modems cost 2,000 shillings; cost of laptops is coming down. But for the mass market they expect them to go by phone – the cheapest phone is the LG KP 105 2,000 ($27) , while on Safaricom it’s the Nokia 1680 at 3,000 ($40) ; the cheapest EDGE phone is the Nokia 2330 at 4,500 ($61) and the cheapest 3G phone is the Nokia 3120
– Cost of infrastructure – cost if providing internet to the mass market is high
– Low local content – Most popular site on their networks are Facebook and Youtube. But local opportunities are there e.g. car sales, apartment sales, news media & entertainment sites
– Low literacy on internet use

– Operators are engaging with device manufacturers to lower costs so that the mass market can afford them (Acer, HP, Nokia)
– Easier financing; Safaricom partnered use Equity Bank now, soon KCB and Barclays to finance equipment costs
– Developers come up with local content that is relevant at affordable costs.
– Create daily usage habits. Their current offering is Kshs 1,000 for ($13) unlimited internet over 7 days – admits its creates constraints but goal is to create habits
– Engage CCK (Kenya regulator) to lower frequency costs and the Government (GoK) to remove VAT on modems
– Why is Safaricom still the most expensive network to use especially 3G? Plan to reduce that like they did with voice. It’s a competitive field and they believe they provide value for money and their goal for data is the mass market
-can there be better revenue share in value added services from 90% to operator and 10% to e.g. more towards Japan where vendor gets 70% and a better environment from one where vendors fear offending Safaricom? Three years ago revenue share was in favour of operators, but not anymore. When you start off, the revenue share is in Safaricom’s favour, as you get more successful, it getter better for the vendor and one licensee vendor now gets 80%

Jose Henriques Executive Head, Internet Services, Vodacom talk on Mobile Web evolution in South Africa, how is the leading Operator positioning itself to push usage and increase revenues?
– 6% of Africa have PC internet and the top 10 countries represent 85% of Africa users. By comparison, of the top 10 countries that use mobile internet (measured by opera mini); only 4 are in the top 10 of PC internet. For mobile in the last year, page views increased 374%, unique users by 177%, and data consumed by 183%. Kenya is No. 3, Ivory Coast -7 and Ghana is ranked 8.
– In last 10 years the percentage of Africans with mobile phone access has gone from 2% to 33%. Facebook is overtaking Google in data consumption.

Get It
To make mobile internet access to everyone in Africa
– you need data networks
– you need phone settings (over the air or pre-loaded on handset)
– content (network based or client based) for bottom pyramid, network based is better as they can make it available for low cost
– data pricing
– Unlimited bandwidth models don’t work in the long run for operators. European operators are going back to pre-paid bundles

Way Forward
– There are 5.3 million PC internet users in SA, and there are 11 million access by mobile -and expected to be 17million by 2013
– Smart phone sales growing 400% year to year, while mobile hones are declining 6% year to year. There will be serious smart phone competition Nokia, Samsung LG will compete, prices will go down and. HTC will be hurt because they enjoy high margins.
– In SA the bottom of the pyramid is no longer the largest demographic group – its tier 3 who earn R20 to R140 per day in 2008
– Vodafone live biggest portal on market 3.6 million grows 1 m year to year. There were 49 million banner ad impression per year
– Normal internet use consumer 5 MB per month while opera mini user 25MB per month
Sites JIL is their developer website while at betavine people can post problems for developers to volunteer fixes and solutions

Q&A Featured Jose Henriques, Isaac Nsereko, Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Uganda and Wadzanai Chiota (Head of Value Added Services) at Safaricom
– What is a smart phone? Majority of their consumes are buying their cheap data phones so to Safaricom, that is a smart phone
– Why won’t Safaricom share their API? Safaricom has done that on voice, data and recently USSD, they are looking at exposing this to developers. They are hungry for applications, but have not got many offers. They have the Safaricom portal (with music, news ) and the developer environment in JIL . For now the USSD is open only to banks
– Why does Safaricom hold SME money? – is it to kill small business to hire their techies? In JIL principle, Safaricom not allowed to hold partners money
– Can there cheaper money transfer cost for the $40 remittances to Africa? Safaricom now enable remittance fro m UK
– Can operators share data with developers e.g. which is the most popular handset to that developer can see this and mitigate risk? Networks don’t share reports – developer should check opera mini aGFK reports as there are also customer confidentiality issues
– What local content are people willing to pay for? and if you give it away for free how can you monetize that? People will pay for access to content, and it has to be superior to international content to be worth accessing. Safaricom answer was that people are not willing to pay for local content when they have free options like getjar, waptrick. While Vodacom was that they make access free (a SA Govt initiative) where customers pay for content but they don’t fully understand this. MTN was that people will pay for things they value – agriculture information – farmers info, latest ring tones.
– With $500 million spent on ad content in south Africa – people pay for relevant value local content
– Do operators take social media seriously? Vodacom has new portal, in SA and in two other countries. It grows virally,
– When will we have one money system in Kenya? MTN (Uganda) mobile money is available across all networks, while in Kenya Safaricom system is capable of doing that but does not allow currently
– Impact of proliferation of Chinese (not) ‘smart’ phones? In SA it’s minimal since every device that goes to market is certified by operators.

Brett StClair, Country Manager – South Africa, AdMob talked on how global advertisers and local agencies can utilize the mobile device to the East African user to reach their promotional goals
AdMob places ads on web page optimized for mobile handsets as well as on smart phone . They 20,000 mobile publishers
AdMob has grown quickly because
– Scalable –small publisher can be up in a few hours
– No gambling, cigarettes and other prohibited good ads so they are in many markets

Mobil ad market
– Mobile internet is not a fad: 11 million ads worldwide, 750 million in Africa. 90% comes from services
– of 750 million ads in Africa, 275 million in SA, Nigeria 105m, Libya 77m, Egypt 52m, Kenya 47m. SA most competitive in the world.
– Most ads are for low end phones in SA like Samsung E250. Kenya was 3rd, but operators struggling with growth factor.
– Data prices have an impact on mobile usage – and (i) 3G is key (ii) Cheap data prices (iii) GPRS handsets
– Africa is a low handset market. Most popular device Nokia 3110c, Samsung E250, then Nokia N70 There is also space for applications for smart phone market. Leading smart phone Nokia N70, then Nokia 6300, then apple iPhone

Is Africa next?
99% of Africa ads bought come from foreign countries
– Cheapest inventory global $0.01 across Africa $0.03 per country
– Top publishers are: communities, portals, downloads
– Top advertising categories: music, religion (15%) , games, brands

– Local brands can now reach the masses digitally
– Businesses can launch m-commerce
– Local service drive economies; what internet did for western world. Mobil is the technology of reach
AdMob offers 60% payout to their publishers (60:40),
– Key market is spender 18 – 49, men (female more),
– With AdMob you can target a particular country, a particular operator, particular handset, (18 million iphone impressions in Africa) and they can give comprehensive reports to publishers

Moses Kemibaro (Twitter @moseskemibaro), Business Development Director, DotSavvy on a of a leading Digital Agency with regard to how they are preparing for the expansion of mobile, and why

– How do people market? Print, radio, television, internet, outdoor/indoor ads, direct mail
Are they working? Not interactive expensive – 1 day newspaper equals a month of internet, no metrics or ROI. Mobile ads are 24/7/365, one to one, proactive, personalized, measurable,
– Every phone has SMS, more are MMS; handset prices are falling while features are rising. 3 in 10 Africans have one phone, and in Africa, the mobile phone also does SMS/text, e-mail, internet, the bank, entertainment, a camera, socializing
– Kenya 20 million subscribers, and 2 million mobile internet subscribers
– according to opera mini, Kenya has one of the highest numbers with 525 page views per user in a month. This was a 615% growth in one year, while unique users grew 246% in one year and most popular sites are Facebook, Wahoo Wikipedia, BBC, Youtube, Gmail, Live, Hotmail, Twitter
– there are opportunities in Mobi web site, SMS txt, mobile video, mobile applications (game), location based advertising
few mobi optimized sites in Kenya ;, CFC Stanbic (only bank in Kenya with mobi site), Kenya Airways (flight schedules, cargo) Yellow Pages Kenya, Daily Nation – there are very few website with optimized design for mobiles
– Advertisers like AdMob, inmobi (India), buzzcity are active in Kenya
– local companies include Smart ads with 50,000 members and Jumuika works
– for a good mobile strategy, less is more in execution, needs constant updates and manage content regularly, and a focus on the lowest common denominator (most common phone)
– its early days in Kenya – compared to south Africa . DotSavvy has, after 7 years website of website development, now doing mobile sites and has hired new people. Mobile advertising will It will enhance traditional marketing, not replace it and can deliver a massive market at low cost

Q&A with Brett StClair, Judy Kiruri, Managing Director, BrandKey Marketing , Moses Kemibaro
How can you advertise though a low cost phone with no graphics? AdMob serves up banner and text and can detect what phone and setting are activated
– See trends – There will be more mobile internet traffic than internet traffic by 2013
By 2011 there will be more smart phones shipped than PC’s and laptops
– How does AdMob pay? primarily by pay pal – do internal wit transfer, use credit card or paypal like Google adwords

Challenges of doing developing mobile sites? Convincing companies that mobile sites are the next level of advertising. However ad agencies will listen to good initiatives
Publishers get no revenue? It’s a misnomer that if you build a good site, people will come. Advertise it. Even yahoo and Google advertise
How do you work with the operators? Mobile ads can work without interrupting the operator who have other proprieties
Are people in Africa clicking on these ads? 100 page impressions 1% 1 clink. On internet its 0.02%, on mobile 0.7% its better performance. In Africa CTR is 1.5% to 2% however these and these will come down over time.
Do small companies have the capacity to measure mobile ads? This was a problem with PC ads; – a good campaign should have measurable metrics. There is opportunity for developers to serve this – with mobile it’s probably easier than with a TV ad. Note that Google analytics and AdMob have free tools for this.

Mbugua NjihiaChief Executive Officer, Symbiotic Media Consortium on a Kenyan entrepreneur’s perspective on the opportunities and strategies that exist in mobile web and applications in the region

Some of their products
– Tuma SMS a SMS sending service. Corporate can send SMS from internet e.g. Transparency International used it during Kenya referendum that was translate to Kisii, Luo
– Chulaimbo – remind HIV patients by SMS to take their ARV drugs
– Tarazaki a sync service even family channel or public channel – a birthday message is sent to many phones
– ManenoAds ad platform for mobile, web, mobile apps
– SMSoko
– Esplanade social platform (Easy Hisa – standard bank mobile, diplomat alert, credit card alert system)
– Payment bridge for automation of payments
– Kelelemobile

– They are more than a mobile social network for east Africa – send SMS from sembuse to sembuse for 50 cents. Its multi-lingual English French German Swahili Chinese
– Content channels bring stick-ability – gossip channel, rave (Friday parties for students, offers at various night clubs) and also companies can place their ads across different platforms
– Have a platform for the world cup, and an upcoming partnership with the Capital Group & DJ CK

Way forward for brands
– your customers are on mobile
– adopt technology that delivers
– ad agencies can use this existing platform
– but also look forward to accessing location based services from operators

Vincent Maher, Portfolio Manager, Social Media, at Vodacom talked about South Africa’s leading solely mobile focused social network which is about 18 months old
The Grid is a mashup of instant messaging, content sharing, location based services
– SA dominated by Mixit. Java seemed to be best to give a rich application for users, and they tried to build a java site over 5 months (nightmarish experience) – rolled out 14 different platforms,
– for Any social service to be successful should have an open API theirs is open grid
– They target ads by location gender age time of day. also they use location based adverts. To use LBA one needs user location, ad server that support this (Google does) and application that adds location. this is good for very small businesses e.g. hairdresser, plumbers, and they can expect to see low volume of impression but a high click though rate
– users don’t need to have GPS to use the service
– they Use aerial photographs and their own maps (not Google maps)
– of their 1.2 million – 80% use java, 10% use mobi site 10% (api web desktop other)
– The Grid has also had rapid growth in Nigeria and Tanzania, though 90% are pre-paid data customers. In Nigeria and South Africa they have 9 million page impressions a month
– Initially used AdMob and had great growth then went back to Google when AdMob got too expensive
ion to ad requests

What is coming next?
– Ambient (mood based advertising)
– Desire line anticipation (plot where you will be and advertise you to prompt you to buy later)

Q&A featuring Vincent Maher, Mbugua Njihia, and Kennedy Kachwanya, Operation Manager,

– How is grid in Tanzania? Tanzania does not have location system. Compared to Nigeria, there is less activity in Tanzania. They have done different marketing than SA. Tanzania do outdoor advertising, but SA does mobile advertising
– How open is The Grid API? Have any users done really innovative stuff? You can build entire grid using API. Some manufacturers are building grid phones
– Any issues on invasion of privacy? Advertiser will never get users contacts until they engage. It’s voluntary; if you don’t want to be tracked, turn of the grid – and it’s actually quite easy to track people without the grid
– Will people pay for back-up services? Sembuse will back that up for you for 10 shilling per month (Africa’s version of apple MobiMe)
– Grid to Kenya? Crazy market, but it could happen (six months)
– What was the growth pattern of the grid? Grew slowly for 6 months doing print, radio TV campus – then turned mobile ads and got 45% growth, before that also got too expensive. Now 1.2 million users. Note there is no viral growth on mobile unlike in web because SMS is expensive and intrusive

TMS Ruge ended at 6 PM noting that Safaricom has taken a bashing, but he hoped they would listen to their customers and developers and bring changes within a shorter time than the a year which they stated. He noted that that there were opportunities in the mobile space in all the 53 African countries, and with 1 billion people with a demand for mobile products at appropriate prices