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A few months ago I cam across a fascinating study by Daniel Evans and Dr. Charles Thomas, two researchers at The Network Science Center at West Point. They set out to undertake one of the more ambitious studies of the business space in Africa, a network mapping study about who the key players in each market and how the influence or affect one another. Why? To quantify the entrepreneurial network in such a way that the analysis provides concrete policy recommendations.

The results tend to look something like this, where each node represents different key players or actors in the respective entrepreneurial spaces of each hub or country:

West Point Africa Research

The trip was several months long, taking them to various countries and innovation hubs all over the continent and the results are fascinating. A description from the authors themselves from their first paper “Who do you know?” Developing and Analyzing Entrepreneur Networks:

Our research goal is to quantify the entrepreneurial network in such a way that the analysis provides concrete policy recommendations. Our Center has experimented with several data collection methodologies and we have developed an innovative yet simple technique that allows us to develop quantifiable entrepreneur networks. Our innovation is not to develop each individual entrepreneur’s network but to understand the entire entrepreneurial network of the community in which the entrepreneur lives and operates. In order to develop this model, we have adapted a technique used in sociology to measure social capital called the Position Generator (Lin & Dumin,1986; Lin et al, 2001). This technique circumvents the massive effort of mapping an individual’s social network before locating the social resources in it. By approaching the entrepreneur’s network through the analysis of his connections to prominent structural positions in the community or society, researchers are able to construct measures that obtain information on the strength of ties and structural holes (Lin, 2001).

Dan Evans has been doign a fantastic job blogging his research over at the WestPoint blog but gave us permission to make his work available through our open data portal, Statfrica.  The first of three of their papers are now available for download here.  They are:

  • “Who do you know?”- Developing and Analyzing Entrepreneur Networks
  • Quantifying Entrepreneurial Networks: Data Collection in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Network Science Center Research Team’s Visit to Kampala, Uganda Daniel Evans and Dr. Charles Thomas

Each paper is supported by even more in-depth supplemental material at his blog.  For instiance here, here, here, here, and here…there’s way to much to link to so I encourage those of you who are data-driven to dow your own digging to find out some of of their fascinating discoveries. These papers are freely available here and elsewhere but please contact the authors for citations, references, or future publishing.

We’ll post follow up research of our own based on these papers in the coming months.

Download Network Analysis of Africa’s Tech Hubs and Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

For more details on these particular studies, contact: Network Science Center at West Point |

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!

Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson

Appfrica Executive Director Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson chats with business owners in Uganda.

Mara Launchpad is an exciting incubator and co-working space in Kampala, Uganda.

Following the lead of other innovation spaces across the continent, Mara Luanchpad’s mission is to create an open-ended model which allows for incubation, investment, capacity building and scale. Thus, Mara’s entrepreneurs get access to a place to work together as well as access to early stage seed funding and later stage venture capital.

Mara Launchpad Uganda

When you first visit the Launchpad, you’ll notice how densely packed the pace is with desks. These desks are paid for by entrepreneurs using Mara as their startup headquarters. Here they are given access to filing cabinets, meeting rooms, fast internet, a boardroom for meetings and other resources that might prove elusive for early-stage companies.

Mara is conveniently located directly across the street from Makerere University which makes it prime real-estate for student entrepreneurs who need a quiet, professional space to work along or in teams. The space is called the ‘Launchpad’ because of the perfect storm of resources available to participants seeking to ‘launch’ their projects or businesses in a friendly environment.

Appfrica visits Mara Launchpad

Appfrica Executive Director Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson and Director of Advocacy Jon Gosier met with Mara Foundation Director Nigel Ball to discuss a number of opportunities for collaboration (between Appfrica and Mara Foundation), as well as their respective hubs (HiveColab and the Launchpad, respectively).

Despite what might exist as a perception of being a nascent tech community, Uganda’s Mara and Hive are only two of the many resources available to Uganda’s technology entrepreneurs and enthusiasts. By working together, the Ugandan incubator and investment community hopes to spawn a friendly competitive environment that allows all the various initiatives (and perhaps more importantly the entrepreneurs themselves) to thrive.

Apiyo Oweka of Mara Foundation

Apiyo Oweka (of Mara Foundation) and Daniel Stern (co-founder of Hive and Director of UConnect) also met with Appfrica to discuss the need the need to for more cohesion amongst business owners in Kampala’s growing market. Needless to say these conversations have spawned a number of new ideas, and will lead to many new great things for all involved!

Photos: Jon Gosier

Barbara Birungi

Barbara Birungi, Director of Uganda’s innovation hub HiveColab, wrote this great piece for the BBC last week…

I believe that when you educate a woman, you educate a nation – because that one woman will share what she has learnt with other women and pass it on to the generations below hers.

This is why it’s so important that women are taught how to integrate technology into their businesses if the businesswomen of the future are to follow suit.

Women in Africa are taking to business in a big way, and playing a crucial part in the economic development of their countries

Read The Article

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

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 Many of the entrants are choosing to open source their code which you can find here on GitHub.

Apps4Africa Reboot!

Jon Gosier —  September 16, 2011 — 2 Comments

Well, it wasn’t a graceful relaunch. Our site went down, a web app we use called JotNote suffered at DDOS attack, and there were other complications, but after 24 hours of debugging and troubleshooting Apps4Africa 2011 is almost underway! Beginning October 1, 2011 the contest will kick off in 5 countries in West Africa, before moving to East Africa (October 20, 2011), ultimately ending with the Southern Africa competition early next year.

apps4africa 2011

The press release from this morning:

As part of our engagement with emerging African partners in addressing the challenge of climate change, the U.S. Department of State will sponsor Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge, a public diplomacy program comprised of three African regional competitions to address local climate change challenges through the use of mobile technology.

In coordination with software developer Appfrica International, the U.S. Department of State will bring civil society, academia and private sector organizations together with African technology innovators to develop applications that address local climate change adaptation challenges. In doing so, we seek to raise African public awareness of climate change adaptation and U.S. involvement in Africa on these issues; support the development of civil society and private-sector networks; and highlight African solutions to local climate change adaptation challenges.

The 2011 competitions are linked to three African regional climate change workshops organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State. The workshops are part of the broader Adaptation Partnership, which brings together practitioners and policy-makers to address key adaptation challenges in their region. Climate change issues identified at these workshops will be used to inspire ideas for mobile applications for the competitions.

The Apps4Africa: Climate Challenge builds on the success of the 2010 Apps4Africa: Civic Challenge in which civil society challenged program developers to find innovative technological solutions to everyday problems on issues ranging from transparency and governance to health and education. The 2011 competition begins in Western and Central Africa in September, with Eastern and Southern Africa to follow. Winners will receive prizes, including cash awards. Private partners, including TED and Indigo Trust, are contributing technical assistance, prizes, and follow-on support for the new partnerships created by this platform.

For more information please visit or contact Marissa Rollens, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs, at 202-663-0531 or

This is really exciting for us, as with this contest, Appfrica and HiveColab members will visit a huge portion of the content, to answer your questions and help facilitate local events. Plus we’ll get to meet many of the great minds out there doing great work! Regional outreach events will be held in the following countries.

In West Africa/Central the outreach area will include: Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, DRC and Ghana. In East Africa the outreach area will include: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. In Southern Africa, the outreach area will include South Africa, Botswana, Madagascar and Angola.

Got feedback for us? Share it in our Google Group.

G|Uganda Recap

Jon Gosier —  September 16, 2010 — Leave a comment
G Uganda Conference Sept 1-2

Google's G|Uganda Conference held at Kampala's Speke Resort Munyonyo.

On September 1st Kampala saw the kick off of Google’s gUganda, which was held at the Munyonyo Speke Resort Commonwealth Conference Centre. 650 Engineers, Designers, Web Developers, Entrepreneurs and Students learned how Google hope to spur Tech Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Africa and even closer to home Uganda.

“Africa’s the final frontier.”– Google. Hearing this I felt as If I were sitting inside the USS Voyager and we were about to go into Google deep space. And, who do you ask is the captain of this Tech journey?  Nelson Mattos Engineering Vice President for Google Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), mentioned that for every 10,000 people in Africa there is 1 domain. In comparison to most Western Countries which have up to 94 domains for every 10,000 people.  The Google VP a keynotes speaker at the event commented “We are very pleased to be hosting our first big developer event which will engage the local Tech and Business communities, and highlight the opportunities of the web. Our aim is to make the internet more locally relevant and useful to Ugandans, and help build a viable and sustainable internet ecosystem in Africa.”

Now I know to a lot of people that might think that is just a really good pitch, but what’s the catch? I mean most of the time when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. That doesn’t have to be the case according to Google who across the two day conference demonstrated to Tech Professionals and Entrepreneurs alike how Google’s straight forward and cost friendly (Free) tools and applications can be used to keep African content in Africa through internet exchange points (IXPs) also known as Google cache, create a greater online presence e.g. through applications like Google Maps and more locally relevant information, tools and applications. Through a sort of “Democratization” of locally relevant content if you will, along with trying to inspire people across the continent to innovate and optimize the opportunities available to create a more significant online presence for Ugandans and Africans alike. “Less than 10% of Africa’s users contribute to more than 1% of Africa’s Content.”– Google.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect the second day of the Google event since the day was heavily centred on Tech Entrepreneurship and how we can all use Google and their products such as Google’s Web Optimizer, Adsense ( , Adwords ( , Analytics ( )and Google Apps ( ) to create and maintain a successful online business, Cha ching! Now I am no Donald Trump but by the end of it all I felt that even I should be able to come up with an online income generating idea too. The Google team did a great Job of breaking down each of the online products on offer along with a demonstration and very interactive Q&A.  The second day along with the two day conference was concluded with a panel discussion with a few successful home-grown Tech Entrepreneurs such as, Eric Kamau (,

Nelson Mattos Keynotes session

Nelson Mattos, Engineering Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa discussing that the tech future of Uganda and Africa is only on the up.

Benge Solomon King ( and Simon Kaheru Director of SMS Media along with a few others and the giving way of a Google Nexus one Android handset.

I will say by the end of the two days I had fried a few mental circuits but feel I have walked away with some sort of divine digital knowledge, having momentary access to what felt like an infinite source of opportunity. Now I wait with bated breath for next event. Have a look at the blog to find out about any up and coming events in your region


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!

hive colab

Earlier in the day we announced Apps Africa, a competition for app developers across Africa. Also, today in Uganda, Appfrica Labs in partnership with Project Diaspora, UConnect, and Node Six are also announcing the Hive collaborative workspace in Uganda!

Hive Colab is a collaborative, community owned, open work environment for young tech entrepreneurs looking to focus on projects, to access the computing resources and bandwidth, have a quiet professional environment to develop their ideas in, and to generally collaborate with each other. Something very similar to what our friends are doing with the outstanding iHub in Nairobi.

It will be a space for nascent application developers to register as freelancers, if they are looking for paying projects that people need to be done around the world; a list of projects and clients available through the pan-African consortium of incubators, AfriLabs. Participant projects will remain wholly owned by their creators, although there there will be access to a network of investors looking to cherry pick some of the more promising ideas for investment, also through AfriLabs. AfriLabs is a loose consortium consisting of the iHub & iLab in Kenya, Appfrica Labs here in Uganda, and Limbe Labs in Cameroon.

The only requirement to membership to the Hive, is that applicants actually be working on projects, and thereafter they must be able to show progress on their ideas to retain membership. This is to keep energy high and to favour people who remain productive. There will be other types of memberships available to be announced soon. For companies or individuals who occasionally need space to host events and trainings relevant to our mission, we are happy to offer the Hive as an open venue. All applications to use the space will be approved by the board.

Our vision is to establish the first Hive at the present location, and eventually expand by opening other Hives in different parts of Kampala to make them convenient locations for many.

It is important that the Hive operate independent of any contributing stakeholders, so that it is not any one person’s or group’s property. Thus, all decisions are made by a community board which currently consists of Teddy Ruge (Project Diaspora), Daniel Stern (UConnect), Solomon King (NodeSix) and Jon Gosier (Appfrica Labs) and more (to be announced soon).

More details tomorrow at Africa Gathering UK and at Follow us on Facebook or @hivecolab on Twitter.