Tag Archives: africa

The Link Between #BabaWhileYouWereAway and #SabaSabaDay

CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 10JUN2009 -Raila Amolo...
CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 10JUN2009 -Raila Amolo Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya, Kenya Business Alliance Against Chronic Hunger – World Economic Forum on Africa 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, June 10, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not everything you see on the internet is real.

If you have read Enders Game (The movie does not have this bit), Two children, a brother and sister,Peter and Valentine,living in one house, shaped global ideologies on politics and policy, by writing blogs with pseudonyms, often writing against each other on opposing ideologies apparently from different corners on the continent as Locke and Desmosthenes.

You might be aware of the unveiling of supposedly catfish accounts on Twitter. If you do not know what I am talking about, a catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Twitter, Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue or push deceptive online causes.

Now read this blog on Exposed Parodies. In a nutshell, a number of prominent “twitter bigwigs” run multiple parody accounts to support their causes and to bait people.

The trap of following and conversing with parody accounts is easily to fall for. They are already being followed by thousands of other people, so this somehow implies they are an authority on whatever subject they speak about. You find them driving social conversations and ideologies, all by someone who doesn’t exist. A good number of Twitter accounts are not real, nor the thought leaders and ideologists speaking behind them are not real. There are teams of people tweeting and directing ideologies this way and that.

Obviously,there is a danger here,that of Social Control Through Social Media and it binds two elements:

1. Kenyan Hyperactivity on Twitter

2.Social control for mass causes or ideologies

The Feb 28th movement was a test run of social control in Kenya through social media. It occurred two years back,on Feb 28th 2012, where, all people on twitter were supposed to come out at 1.00 pm wherever they were, and sing the national anthem. I experienced it from an office in upper hill, on the 7th floor, and I could hear people in other offices and in the streets singing the Kenya National Anthem. This was indeed proof that social media can be a tool to rally and control mass action.

Kenyans have grown online since then. Over the years as well, Kenyans have been prolific on Twitter, pushing a number of global Twitter trends, just by the sheer volume of tweets, not by the numbers of people on Twitter. Kenyans have attacked South Africans, Nigerians and fought and won Twitter wars. Seemingly, Kenya is the most switched on nation on Twitter in Africa.

Today, whatever trends on Twitter is sure to be on the evening news. On the most part though, Kenyan Twitter trendsetters are for entertainment value; media personalities and representatives of branding and ad companies. Which means their endorsements are rarely for causes and mostly for parties and products. There is the growing thought leader on policy,politics and business, these however are tied down by family and corporate image and branding to risk their neck for a Kenya that is seemingly not worth fighting for. Even the firebrand and hitherto vocal @BonifaceMwangi Quit Activism.

Come #babawhileyouwereaway, a Twitter trend on a politician making his return back home after a three month visit in the USA. After he came back, he calls for national dialogue by the 7/7/2014. The historic Saba Saba day, a day of note in Kenya’s history in terms of policy changing political rallies.

This is my prediction. Whatever exists of CORDs social media team will try to create a trend on or around the SabaSaba day in line with all the complaints on #BabaWhileWereAway, an attempt to veer the mind of the middle class into action.

Sadly, and fortunately for Kenya, the Kenyan on Twitter still utilizes the tool as a means of entertainment. Social media tools, in the form that politician are attempting to use them, to drive ideals and ideas,  are the preserve of the educated and urbane.Most of the action on Twitter remains online. The Kenyan middle class tweets and shouts silently  from the comfort of his suburban home. On the most part, it is a means of news, misinformation,gossip,trending wordplay and jokes.

It will take about 5 more years, whence smartphones will be ubiquitous and pervasive, for the average Kenyan to be rallied by calls to action on a mobile phone trend.



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App Piracy

Let me clear things up a bit. I AM NOT PRO PIRACY.

I have touched on this before, in The Truth About Software Piracy and more recently, Are applications making us dumb?

Look. Africans Do Not Pay For Software. In Any Medium.

Africans don’t pay for apps. We crack them. Even the wealthiest of app users won’t pay for an app when he or she can get it for free.

This is why it has been reported that 83% of software in East and Southern Africa is pirated. This includes corporate accounts with spending power.

While developers speculate on the viability of monetizing apps, VAS Content Providers and Mobile Networks and their partners are earning thousands of dollars from USSD and SMS based content services such as ring tones, marketing promos,raffles, edutainment and NGO initiatives.

This is where the money is.

Forget the iPad/iPhone and Android apps.

Even in the projected 5-10 years, user retention is low, competition is too stiff from international apps who are better capitalized,more established, who’s end game on tech projects are built around sound business, very different from the tunnel vision that most dev. projects seem to be, purely tech without considering the whole concept as a business with an exit strategy.

But the simplest reason is that people won’t buy it when they can get similar value for free.

My perspective is based on statistics on software usage, on whatever medium, in east and southern Africa. It has been reported by that 83% of software in this region is pirated.

This is on the PC platform, with way more security checks and sound business models than the fledgling mobile markets.

After several years and several counts of winners of global and regional application and software development awards in East Africa, we are yet to see an impactful and properly monetized software in the region. If you know of any, kindly tell me of them.

On the basis of this peculiar financial and behavioral history of Africa’s spending and software usage habits, why do we expect people to spontaneously begin paying for mobile applications? Whoever thinks this is possible must be counting on primitive energy.

A clearer example: No sooner had Miguna Miguna’s politically explosive book, Peeling Back the Mask been released, than the same had been forwarded to every Kenyan email address and hosted on every download portal on the internet. I guarantee you that no other book in Kenya’s history reached the eyes of its readers sooner than this one.This is how Kenyans treated an alleged  “whistleblower”. How much more shall they respect your app that tells them what time their bus will arrive?


You can make NGO’s, the World Bank, USAID, UN, pay for the app. You might (with a  little insider help, ) make a government pay for the app. But it is easier to have a lion live through ransacking a Masaai herdsman’s cattle pen than making an end user pay for an app.

The key thing here, I believe, is if you truly want to monetize your concept,it will be about who pays for the app.

I have glanced at some discussions on piracy, and specialists posit that in the next five to ten years, we will be a strong app market.

Flash forward ten years, Smart phones are commonplace, accessible, and affordable, Africa is developing, Vision 2030, blah blah…which means the app market will no longer be a small niche market but a mass market.

The small chance that this market will be profitable is based on the following dependencies:

  1. The software is unhackable
  2. The networks receive half of the revenue.
  3. Payments are favourable: The cost is low, or the consumer pays indirectly, or in small bits long term.
  4. The platform has lock in. (For one thing, unless the Samsung App store and the Android market place aka Google Play store is as “watertight” and controlled as the Apple store, there is little chance that any app business will monetize in Africa, its difficult to achieve high margins due to the several layers of service provider mouths to feed)

My Conclusion

In my view, local application developers will be like the music industry,where global management and production companies like Universal and Sony have the platforms, means and structures to take on the long term capital costs, while the local app developer will have little revenues and limited rights to his application.

As such its my view that international platform owners, the Nokias, Blackberries,Apples, Samsungs, Microsofts of this world stand to gain from this market. Not forgetting the Chinese.

Ok, I’ll just leave this here….

Gamification of Education- Seven Lessons From Angry Birds


Angry Birds.

Gotta love those Angry Birds.

Our kids love those Angry birds.

Gamification of education is meant to fill the gap between current education systems and the present world of multimedia in which children lives. It is a method which encompasses both digital and real world methodologies to educate in a game format.

Wise scholars have talked in depth on the gamification of education.

One of the best explanations of this concept is done by Gabe Zichermann in the following TED video.


I think the folks at Angry birds have some lessons to share with the edu fraternity on the implementation of gamification.

  1. Simplicity– Angry birds is so simple to play, even a three year old just needs to look at it once to know what to do.
  2. Levels- in each stage there are three levels of completion, and if one does not do so well, it does not deter them from moving onto the next level, as it only means this particular challenge was a one star challenge and that was what one could achieve. One could repeat to get three stars, or move on to an area which they excel at, but still retaining the learning they got from the one star challenge.
  3. Hope- “Level Failed” or “Game Over” doesn’t mean despair to a child, it just means Try Again until you succeed.
  4. Awards/Rewards- High scores are ever present at the top right, ever a pat to the back, awarding ones achievement, yet always a challenge that one could take on, always limitless, ever challenging.
  5. Obscure but exciting concepts- Enraged birds fighting pigs that stole their eggs. Only Lewis Carrol can get more nonsensical than that, and we remember him a hundred years later for it.  Mnemonics and other memory methods tell us we find it easier to remember things that are odd.
  6. Known to unknown- A basic facet of sound education is increasing content complexity from the known to the unknown, which enables one to understand deeper principles on the basis of underlying grund concepts. Angry birds does this well as it increases in complexity through the stages.
  7. Multiple senses- Another key precept in memory psychology is that the use of multiple senses increases ones memory of a single aspect. Thus colors, sound, vibrations to touch, all add another layer to the memory. When all senses are involved, it is more and more difficult to forget something.

One presumption of gamification is that all target students live in a multimedia environment,have short attention spans and require multimedia in school to match their lives outside school.

This is not necessarily true, as in some parts of the world,the digital divide is huge. Even greater is the content divide.

This is why governments across Africa are signing up on global projects on One-to-One Learning, Laptops for schools, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Tablets for Schools programs targeted at the children. There are also newer fledgling programs targeting M-Learning and video conferencing for e-learning. Yet new research shows that OLPC may not necessarily have any positive educational outcomes.

Ongoing too are programs targeting teachers, on the precept that teachers dish out knowledge, and they cannot teach or encourage that which they do not know or understand.

Initiatives like the Mwalimukenya Program, Innovative Schools project, Project Badiliko, The Intel teach Program, DANIDA and Dane funded programs for teachers through KESI, and several other ICT initiatives are being launched in East Africa and across the region.

Others targeting the general public are Tandaa and Pasha centers and similar projects are also being replicated across Africa.

However, technology is not a prerequisite to gamification. Gamification can incorporate real world games, physical sport-like activities or mental games, that go beyond the standard methods of rote learning.

the sooner we understand this and incorporate multimedia (where, I insist, multimedia does not necessarily mean technology) in our education systems,be it primary or tertiary, the better our minds will be.



Pamela Jelimo is back! Kapsabet express is back! I watched her reclaim her 800m and was glad.

Where was this girl, where had she disappeared to and why was her performance so bad? What was wrong? Why does she fluctuate so?

Sad thing is,no one can really answer those questions.

Unrelatedly, I was looking through Kiva, the world’s first lending platform, an organization who’s sole focus is loans to MSME’s in developing nations targeting the very bottom of the pyramid.

The base target is the small business and microfinance hungry market, as the logical progression is that the top of the pyramid will only grow if the bottom has purchasing power.

The web is rife with different flavors of initiatives of investing in third world countries.

In a separate tangent, I saw an ad on CNN for golfcitizen.com

It is a portal with global golfer profiles, like a social network for global golfers, where you book, schedule and play in different courses, benchmark your handicap against others, you get the drift.

Then it hit me,


Ok the name sucks.

The idea doesn’t.

It is a fact that for the longest time, we have been seeking a definition of what it is to be Kenyan.

najivunia kuwa mkenya

Najivunia Kuwa Mkenya? Brand Kenya? Mkenya Halisi? The Kenyan National Dress? When government itself drove a search for a glocal identity? (New NGO word I learnt from my NGO world cousin Philo.)

The spirit of a nation is carried in the pride of its people.

Our athletes are the most irrefutably consistent bearers of our nation’s pride.

Kenya’s athletes are the best in the world.

Yet there are very many talented athletes without the support they need to turn them into international stars.

There is no shortage of athletic meets, across the globe, through Asia, the Americas, Europe.

Yet the world records stand unbroken because the breaker is fighting the wind herding cattle.

Lets have an athletes foot portal.

Lets track the profiles of future Jelimos,Bekeles,Tergats, Kiptanuis etc.

The portal lines out their training programs, their needs,their coach, transfers,training teams, movements, racing meets.

The athlete receives crowdsourced investments with the general public investing in shares of the athlete.

It is a true investment, payable with interest.

This allows the athlete to have a following, with whom she or he can communicate through new and old media.

It generates interest in budding athletes and we as a populace begin hoping in our own stars instead of tracing LeBron James, Tiger Woods et al.

It uplifts the athletic profession as a career, not the subsistent creature it presently is,with responsibilities and demands to meet, answerable to Kenya as a people.

In the public is engrained a sense of ownership, a culture of belief and goodwill and sparks entrepreneurship and a go getting attitude, a national spirit that binds the people together.


Mpesa has been lauded by many to be truly a game changing revolution.

However there are some key features lacking in M-Pesa reduce its impact as an effective solution.

1. Automation and Management of End-to-End General Accounting Procedures

Mpesa should handle basic administrative financial processes from start to finish,which it does not. the solution leaves gaping holes in the financial accounting procedure cycle, were one truly utilize the product fully for business, it would be difficult to account for transactions.

2. Support for Worldwide Financial Processes

Support for multiple currencies and conversions, languages, country-specific laws and guidelines, and multi-national transactions – to better coordinate activities that span countries,nations,multiple departments and business units, and improve the execution and management of all financial tasks across all global locations.

This is the target of Zain’s Zap, who have a regional approach to the Mobile Money question.

3. Planning and Forecasting

Companies who utilize financial management software solutions have a dramatically enhanced ability to leverage historical data to predict future financial activities such as trends and patterns in income, revenues, and expenses.

In line with this, M-Pesa has been touted to provide a scenarion that would aid a basic business to develop a habit of saving and growth there businesses.

In this case therefore, M-Pesa should allow a trader to understand how certain potential conditions, can impact its financial status. This makes strategic planning more accurate and successful.

4. Cash Flow Management and Tracking

Tracking income as it is recognized and monitoring how funds are spent is a basic necessity for any application handling your money.

Can you imagine going to your bank and requesting to see a years statement and not being able to?

Well, that is the case with M-Pesa. One can not currently query the ststem for financial history, even after a day. If one requires such information, one has to go to an M-Pesa Agent and pay kshs.500/= for every three months of ones statements .

This is way higher than the rates that commercial banks have for their own statements and to this end M-Pesa is being unfriendly to the common man.

Zain Zap on the other hand have a provision right from the SIM Zap application for querying for ones financial history.

5.  Reporting and Analysis

One does not require third party applications to analyse ones own data.

If at all the solutions is to be robust enough, the capacity to view manage and draw trends in usage and expectations of payments should be a basic, especially when M-Pesa is to be the saviour of the Jua Kali trader.

At a minimum the solution should feed into a mobile application that is able to handle basic analysis of financial data.

If he be truly empowered, this little system should act like an entry level financial management tool with, at a basic level, the features of a fully fledged accounting solution.

The points in this note have been borrowed from “The Key Features of a Financial Management Software” which underscores the basic minimum a money transfer and management solution should do.

Over to you, Safaricom.

Nokia in Africa: Distribution of Mobile Users.

Mobile phone manufacturers market share in Q3-...
Image via Wikipedia

It is a fact that Nokia has Africa locked down, with the largest market footprint for both smartphones and dumb phones.

However their products are directed at different people so do not ask how come certain “good” phones are not in media advertisements.
From research I have conducted, this is the distributiion of Mobile Phone users in the region:

1. Dumb Phone Users
These users have no knowledge of, and care less for multimedia and collaboration. The most uses needed for phones for them are calls and a bit of sms.

Phones used are basic and monochrome. Providers target these with sms and voice products, like subscription sms services and 0900 number kind of voice services.

Some organisations and MVAR Mobile Value Added Resellers are getting creative in this sector, and reaping the most as this is where most of Africa is.

2. Progressive Urban User
This person is fad wowed. Each new phone with gadgets, clear AMOLED visuals, blue teeth, white teeth, red teeth, infra red, infra pink, infra green, facebook, Apps, games, MP3 and other wow features.

For this crowd, the wow and popular status of the phone matters more than functions.
That the phone looks good and has a name mentioned often in the media matters more than what it does, it is a statement.

This is where most Iphone sales, the new LG,Samsung, high end Nokia, S-Ericssons and current fad, Android based phones fall. Forget that Android is a platform like Windows or Simbian.

3. Discerning User
This is a small but significant number of people who know to precise detail what is needed in a phone.

In two groups the discerning user is either a corporate user or a geek. The geek wants a phone that he can ftp with, or do remote server connections, or tweek himself…the variables are numerous. This group is hard to please as questions are asked and comparisons made.

Infact were it not for the corporates therein, this lot would never be advertised to.

Problem is this lot has the cash to spend on a great product. Go into a geek forum and look at the recommendation given on the best smartphone. Trust me it is not the phone that is in the advertisement on rotation in media.

The second lot in this group is the corporate or enterprise user, who just wants Push email. To be honest, and on a direct search I conducted at Safaricom Shops, Orange and Zain, all recommend BlackBerries. RIM‘s BIS is superior to current offerings, and what I was told was configuring Push email on Android, Samsungs and Nokia would be Kujaribu and not a guarrantee that it would work.

Another told me straight up; these phones don’t push, its just a gimmick.

So there, that’s the real state of the mobile world.

William Warero, Esquire, is an IT Evangelist, Solutions Integrator and passionate about bringing change using knowledge via ICT.

E:wwarero@gmail.com, S:william.warero

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


As i noted in a previous post, I have had the unfortunate opportunity of swimming the murky waters of the world wide web to her depths and back.

Well…this time, from a researchers perspective, and purely on a professional basis, I stuck my toe in again.

so here goes.

My perspective is from Kenya, which is Africa’s “where-its-at” spot in Mobile web.

In both instances, I received invites from close friends,to whom, after fervent considerations, decided to join once again in the Mobile Phone Chat Application world.


mXIT  is a free mobile application for instant messaging and communication. That is my lay mans definition. The guys over there describe it differently:

“MXit Xchange is a mobile classified ad service where active buyers and sellers connect.”

This simple description clearly outlines the company’s vision to be more than just another IM application.

I would not want to bore you with the ideological detail, that you can find at their website,


However, another solution challenged their domination:


I thought this was yet another mobile chat application app, and I was right.However, much like Snaptu, the focus is to integrate and build upon the users utilising other applications, in particular, Mxit Users and Facebook users.

“With 2go on your mobile, you can chat with all your friends, anywhere, anytime. It can also connect to other chat networks including MXiT, and Facebook Chat…”

Naughty, arent they? well, in this series I shall summarise my six month’s usage and interaction on both platforms and the prevalence in Nairobi.

Relax, its not a PHD thesis on New Media.

Its just a users perspective on the mobile web events around him.


I was her flawless knight,

she, my trusted Queen.

I grew in valor,

She grew in grandeur,

And I blinded her with my light

And so she closed her eyes to me

And the dark ages came.

And she forgot my name.

And the wars I fought,

I fought for her to claim.

Ravaged by battle,

Scarred by misdeeds

My road to heaven

Paved with bad intentions

She then saw my humanness;

In me saw humanity

And she took me back,

like she always will.