Is Kenya Africa’s tech headquarters?

English: A lone giraffe in Nairobi National Park.

English: A lone giraffe in Nairobi National Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Africa is a continent that is young, vibrant and full of investment opportunities. Despite recent events in Central Africa, projects like iHub in Kenya offer an alternative picture of a bright future with a focus on technological innovation. Without the red tape and embedded infrastructure that can hamper European and US growth, Africa has been quick to develop solutions such as mobile banking. Africa may also be first in line to take advantage of NFC payments, which seem some way off elsewhere.

The iHub centre in Nairobi is an example of this ambition and is a tech community space providing opportunity for entrepreneurs to receive mentorship and potential VC funding. In addition, January this year saw the launch of the US funded Konza Technology City just outside Nairobi.

As other African cities such as Lagos, Accra and Cape Town jostle for position as Africa’s principal technology hub, it may well be Kenya that leads the way.

The extraordinary success of Kenya’s M-Pesa

M-PESA Mobile Money Transfer in Kenya

M-PESA Mobile Money Transfer in Kenya (Photo credit: Erict19)

The elections in Kenya were overshadowed by memories of the atrocities and violence which erupted after the disputed electoral contest in December in 2007. However the recent elections passed off relatively peacefully and the new technology hub in Nairobi called Konza Technology City is evidence of an ambitious and promising future. M-Pesa (M for Mobile and Pesa is Swahili for Money) is a mobile-phone based money transfer and micro-financing service for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania.

Before the launch of M-Pesa, the traditional banking system was accessed by only a fraction of Kenya’s population, whereas now M-Pesa has more than 40,000 agents nationwide and more than 60% of the adult population has an account.

M-Pesa, allowing for the free flow of money in Kenya and Tanzania, is another example of Mobile access acting as a tool of empowerment and financial freedom for people in the developing world. Its extraordinary success has become synonymous with the Mobile revolution in Africa, and long may its journey continue on this incredible continent.

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Google and Facebook aim to become ‘the web’ in Developing World

As parts of the developing world skip ‘the desktop and laptop generation’ as more and more people get access to SmartPhones and use Mobile technology to surf the Internet, Google and Facebook are already targeting them. Facebook and Google are persuading wireless carriers to offer cheaper or free internet access to customers for stripped-down access to the two web giants’ sites. Once locked in, consumers will then be tempted to pay for full access to the full versions.

Considering that Facebook currently only has access to 5% of the African continent‘s population, there is massive room for growth here for the giant social network. A smart and potentially very lucrative move  for the two behemoths, but is this ‘cut down’ version of the web potentially dangerous and limiting to those that access it? Discuss

Mobile and its role in the Developing World discussed at Mediatel conference

Mobile technology and the possibilities around its role in reducing poverty was discussed at Mediatel’s sixth annual Media Playground event on Wednesday. Ed Couchman, Sales Manager at Facebook, highlighted Facebook’s WaterAid programme – http://www.facebook.com/wateraid – and its aims to give people in the developing world access to clear water, sanitation and hygiene.