Archives For kenya

Proud to be Kenyan

Jon Gosier —  September 23, 2013 — Leave a comment

The following post was originally written by Appfrica’s own Ahmed Maawy. The thoughts and best wishes are with him and our other friends in Kenya in these trying times.

Most times being a Kenyan makes me proud. Proud of our capabilities, proud of our achievements as a nation, proud to be part of a people who understand that they hold the keys to their own success.

I write this after the crisis that has found us recently with the attacks at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi. Why do moments like these make me super proud?

Kenyans for Kenya

“The “Kenyans for Kenya” initiative is a fundraiser that was started in July 2011 by corporate leaders and the Red Cross in response to media reports of famine and deaths from starvation in Turkana District.” – Wikipedia

Back in 2011 the Turkana District faced a huge famine situation. Kenyans were requested to donate to help famine victims in Turkana, and in a joint demonstration of unity and solidarity for the people of Turkana, donate we did. And we saved lives.

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Westgate Rescue Efforts, Blood, and Monetary Donations

Following the terrible events at Westgate, it is so pleasing to see yet again how Kenyans united, stood together, laid a helping hand, donated blood, and donated money (in a similar fashion as Kenyans for Kenya) to again prove to the world how we are splendid people who can stand on our two feet and solve our own problems.

Kenyan Mall Attack Rescue

Amidst all the issues we face as a country, we stand united in times of need. #WeAreOne.

A Bright Future Ahead of Us

Over the past couple of months, I have been personally involved in setting up a framework for the next generation of technology awareness and capacity in Mombasa as well as the Kenyan Coast. In Mombasa in particular I was key in the formation of the Mombasa Tech Community. The just concluded NaiLab hackathon demonstrated that we were getting things right in Mombasa.

The events that have happened in Kenya (not only one, but twice) go to prove that we hold the keys to solving the problems we face.

Follow Ahmed on Twitter

On October 24th, 2012 Hillary Clinton announced the 3rd Apps4Africa competition at DEMO Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. Her pre-recorded video address to the audience was one of the many highlights of the DEMO Africa which brought investors and 40 of Africa’s finest startups together for rapid-fire 6-minute pitch sessions.

The Apps4Africa Team! From L to R: Thomas Genton (Senior Advisor, Bureau of African Affairs at U.S. Department of State), Jonathan Gosier (Founder, Appfrica), Bahiyah Robinson (Executive Director, Appfrica), Barbara Birungi (Director, HiveColab), Emmanuel Addai (Apps4Africa 2011 Winner), Marieme Jamme (CEO, SpotOne Global), Eric Mutta (Apps4Africa 2011 Winner), Thomas Debass (Director, Lions@frica)

The announcement also marks a big change in the Apps4Africa model. This year the competition is targeting startups and businesses through competitive funding, offering a non-diluting path to venture capital, mentorship and other forms of support. Our goal is to catalyze the growth of Africa’s early-stage startups to address the issue of youth unemployment across the continent. Africa needs to create at least 120 million jobs by 2012 to maintain it’s current trends of a growing middle class. Those jobs are not going to come from government mandates or multi-national corporations, they are going to come from successful startups and entrepreneurs. With Apps4Africa 2012, Appfrica and our partners at the State Department, Lions@frica, and the World Bank are demonstrating our commitment to addressing this problem now and in the future!

We’re greatly appreciative for the remarks of Mrs. Hillary Clinton and the continued support of our friends at the State Department!

Appfrica is the organizer and facilitator of the second annual Apps4Africa competition which rewards African technologists for developing creative solutions to some of the continent’s most challenging issues. 2011 was the second year we’ve done Apps4Africa, the first year culminated with this congratulatory message from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton:

Last year the theme of the competition was Climate Challenge, which means all the entrants should have focused on solving climate change and adaptation issues that affect their local communities. Over the course of 7 months our teams are going to over 15 countries to support the competition, answering questions and hosting workshops. Since we’re now two thirds through the competition, I wanted to share descriptions of the 6 winners from the East Africa and West/Central regional competitions.

The East Africa winners were announced on January 14th, 2012 at Villages In Action in Kikuube, Uganda. The West/Central Africa winners were announced on December 8th, 2011 in Durban, South Africa at the COP-17 Climate Change Conference.

East Africa Winners

1st prize of $15,000 – The Grainy Bunch by Eric Mutta (Tanzania)
The Grainy Bunch is a national grain supply chain management system that monitors the purchase, storage, distribution, and consumption of grain across the entire nation. It was developed with the understanding that selling “the effects of efficiency” to actors in the grain supply chain is much easier than selling “the effects of climate change”.

Grain is nicknamed the “white oil” which lubricates the engine of Tanzanian growth. Even short-term disturbances in its supply chain adversely affects hundreds of thousands of people. To ensure both food security and economic security for all Tanzanians, a system is required to both monitor and facilitate the supply chain of grain, from the soil to our plates.

2nd prize of $7,000 – Mkulima Bora – Stepheno Maleche, Gerry Nandwa, Joseph Onginjo and Oliver Otieno (Kenya)
Mkulima Bora enables farmers to input the type crop they wish to plant into an app, then it cross-checks meteorological data to determine if the crop is suitable given the timing and location. Mkulima improves farmer yields, saves them time, and money

3rd Prize of $3,000 – Agro Universe – Oliama Brian, Daniel Mumbere, Nabuto Josephine, Bossa Alex, Sanya Duncan, Olwenyi Victor, Kato Charles, Masaba Kizito, Kalema Moses, Namuyiga Winfrey (Uganda)
Agro Universe allows farmers with agriculture products or livestock to alert the app’s community so that they can buy and sell goods from each other. It works on both mobile and the web. The aim of Agro Universe is to create a regional marketplace where products can be sold that may have no demand in the user’s immediate area but that might in areas farther out.

West/Central Africa Winners

1st prize $15,000 – HospitalManager by Victor Ogo Ekwueme (Nigeria)
HospitalManager is a web-based application that helps hospitals and health organizations prepare for disasters such as floods and storms. More frequent heat spells, rains, and floods are leading to heath emergencies, both due to the event itself, and later to water related disease. HospitalManager will help hospitals in Nigeria, and potentially throughout Africa, identify patterns in patient visits following rains and floods, so that staff can better prepare for these situations and save more lives. Hospitals can anticipate incoming disease and emergency patterns using real time climate forecasts. On longer time scales it will allow policy makers to plan locations of new hospitals.

2nd prize $7,000 – Eco-fund Forum by Assane Seck, Guillaume Blandin and Markus Faschina (Senegal)
Eco-fund Forum is a web-based community organizer and geo-localized data exchange tool to help individuals and communities working on sustainable resource management throughout Africa to share their own experiences on best practices. Thus they will better understand and respond to the climate change challenges impacting each specific local context. For example, coastal communities in Senegal that suffer from erosion can learn from neighbors that are successfully and durably overcoming the same problem by regenerating and preserving a littoral forest. Furthermore, the Forum will give those communities a voice which should alert political decision makers to address climate change challenges in time.

3rd prize $3,000 – Farmerline by Alloysius Attah and Emmanuel Owusu Addai (Ghana)
Farmerline is a mobile and web-based system that furnishes farmers and investors with relevant agricultural information to improve productivity and increase income. Lack of information about weather patterns and about which crops grow best in a changing climate hurts rural farmers’ yields. Cell phone use is growing rapidly throughout Ghana, including in rural areas. This mobile tool can help farmers in Ghana to get information about agricultural best practices down to the farm level, including choosing crops best suited for their specific location, and how to prepare for changes in the weather (including dry spells, changes in seasonal onset, and extreme events).

East Africa Honorable Mentions

CoHeW – Geno Juma, Nicholas Mugah
The CoHeW program is designed as an aid to the community health worker (CHWs). The program will have a two pronged approach; it gives stop gap solutions to the respondent and serves as an information gathering tool for the CHWs. The ministry of health and other health administration planners need a source of information on likely occurrences of diseases and projected disease outbreak periods.

AgriRight (Plant it Right) – Nyambura Muhia, Wamahiga Grace, Njeri Winnie, Harun Mwangi
AgriRight is a mobile app that helps farmers plant crops that are right for a particular area.Many farmers, plant crops which are not sustainable for a particular area, which leads to a waste of resources (time, money, energy). They often incur huge losses, reaping very little or no crops at all.

West/Central Africa Honorable Mentions

iProtect
An application that allows residents report issues like bush burning and deforestation in real time via SMS. It’s a citizen reporting and preparedness project that allows the public to alert the greater community of emergency events.

Mobile Agri Business
Mobile Agribusiness is an agriculture application for farmers to have information, skills and to connect them to available market in real-time in DRCongo. The project aims to create a mobile market place for farmers in Congo.


What’s next for Apps4Africa? Well it’s too soon to say but the Climate Challenge will begin in the Southern Africa region in a few short weeks. Bookmark this post and come back in early April to find out who the Southern Africa regional winners will be! If you’d like to get involved with Apps4Africa or the winners, please email us at info@apps4africa.com. Many of the entrants are choosing to open source their code which you can find here on GitHub.

gtug

Google is hosting two events in September to teach the use of Google technologies and products in Africa…

Google is dedicated to making the Internet relevant and useful to Africans, and to developing meaningful products for Africa. We realize fully, we can not do this alone. We believe that tech entrepreneurs and developers have the opportunity to transform the web for the world and Africa.

With this in mind, Google is hosting developer and tech days across Africa with two exciting events, G-Uganda and G-Kenya, taking place early this September. These web and mobile themed conferences will focus on Google’s developer and business technologies from Chrome Extensions, App Engine, to mobile and AdWords. Attendees will have the chance to explore Google’s open source technologies through a combination of tech talks, breakout sessions and codelabs run by engineers and business teams from across the globe.

G-Uganda will be held on September 1st – 2nd at Speke Conference Centre just outside of Kampala. Closely on its heels, G-Kenya is running September 6th – 8th at Strathmore University in Nairobi.

Each day of the conference will cater to a different audience, spanning professional developers, students and tech marketers. Take a look at our sites (G-Uganda & G-Kenya) to learn more about a G-day that might fit your appetite. You must pre-register as space is limited. We look forward to meeting you!

Kiberia, Nairobi’s million-person slum, will be mapped in November through a project initiated by OpenStreetMap and Jump Start International. OpenStreetMap’s Humanitarian team will collaborate with young Kenyans to map the slum and share the results. From the press release (PDF):

Twelve young residents of Kibera will first be trained on current mapping techniques during a two-day workshop. Individuals from the growing Nairobi technology scene will help train and network with the larger community. The group will then map all of Kibera over a two-week period in mid-November and share the results through OpenStreetMap, joining a growing global community of tech-savvy grassroots mapmakers. “The project will provide open-source data that will help illustrate the living conditions in Kibera. Without basic knowledge of the geography of Kibera it is impossible to have an informed discussion on how to improve the lives of residents of Kibera,” said Mikel Maron.

More information can be found at http://www.mapkibera.org/.

Safaricom’s 829,000 shareholders have until the end of September to register to receive their dividends via the popular M-Pesa mobile payment service. Bankele reports on the considerale money that Safaricom will save while eating their own dogfood: Continue Reading…

What Are They Doing Here?

Jon Gosier —  April 29, 2009 — 4 Comments

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What Are We Doing Here, the documentary film by a lot of brothers and one of their cousins is interesting. While it’s nothing new that people are beginning to question the effectiveness of developmental aid, it’s a subject that hasn’t been explored much on film. A least not until somone makes Dead Aid or White Man’s Burden….THE MOVIE (little joke =).

From the film’s website…

Daring to ask the questions no one else will, the filmmakers invite the world to rethink the fight against poverty in Africa. Could our good intentions be causing more harm than good? Have humanitarian interventions prolonged suffering? Who is actually benefiting from our good intentions? These questions and many more are addressed for the first time ever in this groundbreaking feature length film. If you ever wanted to know what happened to the $10 dollars you donated to charity last year, look no further. This film will change the way you look at charity in Africa forever.

Are the Klien brothers the would-be Micheal Moore’s of developmental aid? Judge for yourself here. One thing’s for sure, the World Food Program can’t be too happy about all the free advertising they get on this site.

Why Kelele Can't Fail

Jon Gosier —  March 27, 2009 — 1 Comment

I was probably overly excited by the news of a pan-African and International tech conference taking place in Africa when it was announced at Barcamp Africa in Mountain View last October. I’ve written about it, I’ve pod-casted about it, I’ve evangelized, and here’s my worry now that it’s March and no other details have been released about this conference planned for August since it was announced. My worry is that it won’t happen.

This would be bad because Kelele was supposed to be the rallying cry for technologists and bloggers all over the continent. Make noise, is what it translates to. And that’s what those of us looking forward to it have done. And with things pushing closer with no updates, a lot of people are beginning to wonder. I realize that people have lives and personal responsibilities that might distract, but this conference can’t fail. Why? Because certain people expected it to fail before it was even conceived. For them, failure is what happens in Africa, it’s what people expect, it’s inevitable and looming. It’s the status quo.

Our responsibility as a new generation of African thinkers, entrepreneurs, dev workers, writers and do-ers is to upset that status quo, not fulfill it. There’s, arguably, more opportunity on the continent than ever before. People are excited. Kelele has the potential to be the culmination of a number of strong initiatives all over the continent….from South Africa to Morocco and everywhere in between. Barcamp Africa was great but what does it say about the continent when the biggest conference in African tech last year was held in the United States?

It says too much, actually.

Kelele represents a fantastic unifying movement. A tech conference in a different African city, every single year. This year Nairobi, perhaps next year Joberg, Accra, Cairo…there’s so much potential to bridge borders and bring people together here. Hopefully, the awesome people behind it are just sleeping on news and working on things behind the scenes. I for one offer every resource at my disposal to help make it a reality! If you also want to see this conference happen, I encourage all you other bloggers and tech enthusiasts out there to also ‘make noise’ to show your demand.

Who cares about the wind-up? It’s all about the follow-through.

MySpace has the most registered users, reporting to have just 50 million less registered users than entire population of the United States at around 250m. Facebook has 175m registered users, nearly as many people as Brazil (190m). Windows Live Spaces has slightly less registered users than the population of Japan at 120m. Habbo.com has more registered users than Mexico has people. Friendster has 90m making it comparable to the number of people in the Philippines. hi5 has 80m making it the Vietnam of the social web. Tagged.com’s 70m makes it Iran. Google’s Okurt.com has nearly as many uses as the DRC has people at 62m. LinkedIn has 35m user profiles, putting it around the population of Kenya. Last.fm hovers around Romania’s size. After massive growth this year Twitter.com is close to Switzerland’s size.

This list is pure fun and mostly useless. The numbers used may also be out of date, most of them came from this Wikipedia entry in comparison to this one, except Twitter which I know has about 6 or 7 million users now from recent coverage. Also, keep in mind that these numbers don’t account for multiple profiles, spam accounts, disabled accounts or group accounts which could skew them a great deal. A clear example is MySpace versus Facebook. MySpace has the most registered users but was recently outpaced by Facebook in the number of unique visitors monthly. This is actually very telling. Translation: MySpace is hemorrhaging actual users while Facebook is picking them up as fast, if not faster. Also, these numbers don’t reflect user engagement. MySpace has growing user engagement (how long people stay on the site and what they do while there) meaning the people who are still using the site are using it A LOT.

#nakumatt_fire is the hashtag being used by citizen reporters to broadcast information about a horrific fire in downtown Nairobi. Even more telling is the following statement from user Frequent on a Kenyan forum: “Have you ever seen a fire hyndrant on the streets of Nairobi?”

As far as I can tell, the only person on the scene reporting is Twitter user Kahenya. Who writes via Twitter…

Doubt there are any survivors. I hope I’m wrong but there does not seem to be any survivors…Gas explosion has shot up 50 feet re-igniting the fire.

A blogger, Moses Kemibaro, writes

Just got back from the Nairobi city centre where the Nakumatt Down Town branch caught fire sometime this afternoon. A good portion of the city centre is covered in smoke and we could hear the gas cylinders exploding in the fire. The part of the city where Nakumatt Down Town is located had also been cordoned off by the police and many people were standing in the streets trying to get a glipmse of what was happening. There was also a police helicopter circling the city centre and lots of ambulances going in an out of the city centre. I don’t have much information that but it looked very serious from where I was and I hope no one was harmed in the fire.

Where Traditional Search Fails, Twitter Shines

This is perhaps the biggest reason why people are placing so much value in micro-messaging services like Twitter. Before NTV can report from the scene, before Google can cache the results, before people like me can share the information with people like you; other people on the scene using services like Twitter can begin sharing information. This is the emergence of a whole new animal dubbed the Realtime Web. But more on that another day, for now my thoughts are with the victims of this event.