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Today we’re proud to launch “The Cheetah Code”, an ongoing web series documenting the African tech and creative space. The series is a collection of mini-documentaries chronicling Africa’s young entrepreneurs, creative class, and emerging technology sector. Our goal is to record high-quality video content that is entertaining, educational, and inspirational all at once. You can find all of this content and more at

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This project began by failing. I originally tried to fund raise money on KickStarter for a feature length documentary about Africa’s emerging creative class and young entrepreneurs. The Kickstarter didn’t find the funding it required to succeed, but that only meant it would take a little more work and time to make the project a reality. It also meant the project would need to take a different form. Rather than a documentary, which realistically few would actually watch at all (much less more than once), I decided to make this an ongoing series with new content about the space always freshly available.

Some of these episodes will be profiles of startups and entrepreneurs, others will be interviews featuring the advice and observations of prominent people working in the space.

Two of those interviews appear below, one with SpotOne Global founder and Apps4Africa supporter Marieme Jamme of Senegal and another with Savannah Fund and Ushahidi founder Erik Hersman of Kenya.

Interview with Marieme Jamme

Interview with Erik Hersman

We invite you to submit your stories, ideas, or companies for consideration to be covered here –

If you are a company or organization interested in sponsoring the show or partnering with us in some other way, we invite you to reach out to:

This map visualizes the ccTLDs of the African continent. The country code top level domains of Africa are organized by geoposition, while the top countries are scaled to reflect the number of millions of internet users in those countries.

Country Codes of Africa

View on Flickr. View High Res. Also available as a high-quality large format poster and tshirt. Purchase these items here.

AfTLD Poster AfTLD Shirt

Top Countries (by millions of users): (1) Egypt (2) Nigeria (3) Morocco (4) South Africa (5) Sudan (6) Algeria (7) Kenya (8) Tunisia (9) Uganda (10) Zimbabwe

The first ccTLDs registered in Africa were .EG (Egypt) and .ZA (South Africa), both assigned in 1990. The last came with the 1998 registration of .KM (Comoros). There are total of 56 ccTLDs registered in Africa. In 1997 .ZR (Zaire) was retired and .CD went into use, a reflection of the country’s new name, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Works Cited: Data used to make this map was taken from and are accurate through December 31,2009 using research originally published by Miniwatts Marketing Group. “Introduction to ccTLDs
and Status of African ccTLDs” by Eric Akumiah, AfTLD Adminstrative Manager. Graphic inspired by “Country Codes of the World” by Byte Level Research.

Stephane Boyera of the World Wide Web Foundation discusses the next 20 years of the internet and how the mobile web is poised to dramatically enable billions of people. Recorded on November 23, 2009 at TEDxKampala.

Continue Reading…

pirate_flag People Online’s internship program successfully launched today. One thing I was completely unprepared for was having to do a basic primer on development environments. Lots of smarts and potential, but whoa! Pirated software out the wazoo, and a general lack of knowledge of where to find information. Here’s a quick list I put together for our interns.

Continue Reading…

The images below visualize what the global ‘undersea cable’ infrastructure looks like that allows the world to communicate using various platforms (like the internet). These undersea cables are the backbones of global communication and are what make it possible for the internet to work in the way it currently does. To see larger versions click the images themselves…


The above image visualizes 93 of the world’s major submarine cable systems and the 28 planned systems that are scheduled to enter service by 2011. As depicted in the image, the wealthier the region, the more cable links it will have. This is why the ‘Global North‘ (North America, Eastern and Western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand etc.) have so many cables disproportionate to their populations. Someone’s gotta pay for the infrastructure and those economies can afford it. Thus, if you look at the countries that share the Indian Ocean on their coasts, there’s a dense group of cables but not nearly enough to sustain the hundreds of millions of people that they contain.


The above image depicts intercontinental Internet links between the countries of Europe, Asia, North and Latin America, and Africa. It’s depiction of the same undersea cables that isn’t accurate to their actual geographic positioning as well as other info like bandwidth by country and regional samples.


This map (above) from New Scientist shows the cables in relation to ‘remoteness’. It’s a heat density map that shows the time travel to the nearest major city in hours and days. The cooler colors (browns) indicate remoteness while warmer colors (reds and yellows) indicate density.


This map (above) drills down a great deal of data on the voice market carried out by Telegeography.

A hacker bypasses company security, steals confidential company information, and emails information obtained to it’s competitors and the press. Is it ethical to then post that information as “news”?

That’s the question posited today at Tech Crunch which is using a bunch of information it ‘acquired’ from a hacker as the basis of several blog posts on Twitter. Twitter as you know probably the hottest thing to hit the web since Facebook. My question isn’t whether or not this is ethical, it’s definitely ‘on the line’. The question is, would it make TechCrunch a suspect in the crime itself? I’m not suggesting they had anything to do with it, I have no idea, but clearly they stand to gain (from traffic, the ‘edge’ of braking a story as a news source, etc.) Beyond that, it’s valuable information, and anyone directly benefiting from it would essentially become a suspect. According to TC, the information received included “hundreds of confidential corporate and personal documents of Twitter and Twitter employees…ranging from executive meeting notes, partner agreements and financial projections to the meal preferences, calendars and phone logs of various Twitter employees.” Obviously, valuable information.

Here’s the bigger question, is information acquired through a crime fair game for the media? If someone breaks into someone else’s house, steals something from someone and gives it to me, is it okay for me to use said item knowing full well where it came from and how it was acquired? Does that make me complicit in the original crime itself? When it comes to tangible items, I know exactly what it means but what about IP? TechCrunch defends their decision as such:

We publish confidential information almost every day on TechCrunch. This is stuff that is also “stolen,” usually leaked by an employee or someone else close to the company, and the company is very much opposed to its publication. In the past we’ve received comments that this is unethical. And it certainly was unethical, or at least illegal or tortious, for the person who gave us the information and violated confidentiality and/or nondisclosure agreements. But on our end, it’s simply news.

If you disagree with that, ok. But then you also have to disagree with the entire history of the news industry. “News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising,” is something Lord Northcliffe, a newspaper magnate, supposedly said. I agree wholeheartedly.

I dunno if I buy that, in this particular case. Or, as one user named Tom worded it:

This is an asshole move.

Web UI Designer Wanted

Jon Gosier —  July 8, 2009 — 2 Comments

The tweets copied below retweeted by our friend @amysings should explain just who we’re looking to hire. This job is not location specific although we’d prefer someone on our side of the planet.




Recently there’s been an explosion in the relevance of ‘real-time’ applications like Friend Feed and Twitter. The ability to get information from the masses on one part of the planet to the masses somewhere else has never been greater. Still, despite all the wonders that devices like the iPhone, apps like Twitterific and search engines like Scoopler provide, does any of it really matter to billions of people who still send messages hundreds of miles by foot or auto-rickshaw because it’s their fastest option? Currently there are approximately three billion people on the planet who don’t have access to the internet or other forms of information technology. Even the most common knowledge you’d find at your local public library eludes them for most of their lives. At we’re very aware of this and we apply technology in ways that ensures information is available to all the world’s people.

Question Box is a service being piloted in Uganda and India that allows anyone to call and ask questions to operators that speak their local language. Literacy both in written languages and especially in computing technology is a luxury for most of the people on the planet. In developed nations, we often take this for granted when developing solutions for the poor. If people can’t read, what good is it to bombard them with free SMS messages (no matter how informative they might be)? Likewise, if women aren’t allowed in places where men congregate (in some countries this is the culture), how can we ensure they have access to the same basic information as men, especially in areas of health and personal well-being? How do NGO’s and other organizations know where solutions might be better deployed if it turns out the data they’re using for scoping an area is outdated? These are the the types of problems that Question Box hopes to offer scalable solutions to.

Recently, I began thinking about the data we were collecting and of ways to make it more accessible. Because there was a real time-input (people calling the service), I decided I would try to offer a real-time feed of the questions coming in from people who have no computers, sometimes even no phones. How can they not have phones you ask? Well, in our current pilot with Grameen-Uganda, Question Box works by sending people called Community Knowledge Workers into the field to aggregate questions from rural communities. The CKW then dials a call center (located at Appfrica Labs) with operators on standby waiting to look up the answers. As the operators enter a search (complete with the demographic info of the question asker) the application is populated with those queries, as they occur in real-time. If you’ve ever been to Google’s Mountain View campus, they have a monitor displaying search terms as they are being entered by billions of people around the world, this is the same general concept applied to people who normally live their lives far beyond reach of the web.

The application is called World Wants to Know or WW2K. It’s an exercise in data visualization and offers insight as to the types of information these populations are interested in. Before you ask what the answers are, we do give them to the callers but to protect their identities as well as the interests of our pilot partners, that information (unfortunately) cannot be shared. Over the next few weeks I hope to add many new visualizations to the site based on the data we’re collecting in India and Uganda.

The WW2K application works by querying a server located at my office in Uganda which is currently on a 192kbps connection with spotty power, so please forgive the reliability of the data feed!

You can check out the World Wants to Know application now at


The graph above (found on the worldwantstoknow website) shows the number of men and women asking questions in Uganda, and what categories their questions fall in.


This map shows the region of Uganda we are collecting questions from. Right now the app is still buggy, but a real-time XML feed occasionally shows where the callers are located with green pins.

Microsoft Italy marketer Vincenzo Cosenza posted an interesting visualization today at RWW.


Click the above photo to check it out…

What constitutes Web 2.0? Well a survey shows that majority of IT professionals do not seem to have a definite answer. Only 17% of the 1,300 Information Technology managers across 10 countries surveyed correctly identified all the items on the survey that can be considered Web 2.0.

Blogs, micro blogs and social networking sites were correctly identified but other web portals like iGoogle and Wikipedia were less frequently identified. Only half of the respondents identified video uploading sites like You Tube as being Web 2.0. The reports articulates that although 95 percent of businesses allow access to Web 2.0 in the workplace, only 9 percent have adequate protection from Web 2.0 threats.

The full report can be downloaded here.