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美国: Rep KE
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Why Nairobi deserves the ICT innovation hub of Africa crown



Broadband penetration is growing steadily in Nairobi although it is
still very low and outrageously expensive in much of Africa. Photo/FILE ]​

Posted Friday, October 29 2010 at 00:00

Your flight is scheduled to leave at 6 a.m tomorrow morning,” Asani answered, as he put his mobile phone back in his shirt pocket. Asani, a local street vendor in Nairobi whom I happened to meet moments ago in a bar, seemed amused by the startled expression on my face when I saw how quickly he managed to get flight info for me.

He quipped with a smile, “we Kenyans are more high-tech than you think.”

Africa’s software developers build global gems from dusty kiosks It was a particularly fitting comment as I neared the end of a week-long trip in Nairobi, a city I discovered is the tech and innovation hub of Africa.

I went to Nairobi last week to represent Mozilla at Maker Faire Africa (MFA) 2010 and lead several Mozilla workshops in and out of the city. My aim was to engage with local web enthusiasts and developers, to get people interested in contributing to Mozilla. I wanted to get a better understanding of how we can best push the Mozilla Project forward in Kenya and in Africa in general.

My trips for Mozilla are always rich and memorable experiences where I spend quality time with Mozillians and developers, meet incredibly smart and talented people, and learn so much about the local culture. My trip to Kenya was no exception. I had heard and read a lot about MFA, especially after our participation last year.

The event brings together inventors and makers from all over Africa to help them showcase their work and celebrate African ingenuity and innovation. I knew it would be the confluence of brainy, quirky inventors from every corner of the continent, but I had not anticipated such fun, energy and interaction. Everywhere you looked, creative and colourful inventions from the automatic sisal weaver to the bike-powered phone charger, surrounded you.

Mozilla had a very colourful booth and was manned by passionate Mozillians, including Kwamena, Raymond, Alex, Atlanta and Jeff. Teeming with curious visitors, the “inventions” we decided to showcase were an eclectic set of Firefox add-ons. For the particularly web-savvy, Kwamena, Raymond and I led short Mozilla workshops throughout the day, covering everything from how to get involved in L10n to how to develop your first add-on.

The response was pretty incredible, with dozens of people walking up to us after to help localise Firefox in their locale and, or, write language packs. Above all, MFA was a great opportunity to meet and raise awareness about Mozilla and the open web to hundreds of students, innovators, movers and shakers from Kenya and beyond.

It was also an important opportunity to meet scores of organisations like Ushahidi, Butterfly Works, IAVI, Village Telco, Nairobits, all passionately involved in leveraging the power of open source software and ICT to reduce poverty and advance social change in Africa.

Chatting with visionaries like Erik Hersman, Emeka Okafor, Emer Beamer and Joy Tang opened my eyes to so many ways Mozilla can get more involved and support their, or similar, projects. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Africa’s software developers build global gems from dusty kiosks
Humbling experience After MFA, Kwamena, Raymond and I stayed on for a few more days in Nairobi to lead workshops in two of the most interesting tech nodes of the city. The first stop was Nairobits, an innovative digital design school that provides education to Nairobi slum youth.

It was another humbling experience to meet all of the school’s professors and trainers, and to be able to talk about the Mozilla Project to so many young web-savvy students who amazed all of us by their advanced knowledge of PHP, Javascript and CSS. We did a show-of-hands and asked the 50 or so students in the room how many used Firefox. All raised their hands. We then asked how many knew that Mozilla was a non-profit organisation and Firefox was an open source project?

Zero hands raised. The exercise was quite telling, particularly since we were talking to relatively web savvy kids. Virtually everyone I met in Nairobi did not know that Mozilla was a non-profit, let alone that Firefox was made possible by an army of passionate volunteers around the world. Realising the true nature of the project, it’s incredible the change in people’s expressions and sudden interest in what we do.

As I said goodbye to the students and left Nairobits, I kept asking myself: how many of these youngsters will become Mozilla contributors one day? So much interest and so much enthusiasm, yet so much more work to be done to raise awareness about the project.The second workshop we led was at iHub, Nairobi’s tech nerve-centre that opened a few months ago.
Source:
 

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美国: Rep KE
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Cont'd


iHub is an innovative open workspace for local technologists, developers, hackers, investors and tech companies, right in the heart of the city. Powered by a 20 Mb internet connection, hundreds flock there every day, to connect, share and hack together. We were kindly invited by Erick Hersman (the founder) to lead a workshop there and meet some of Nairobi’s most talented developers.

Africa’s software developers build global gems from dusty kiosks
Raymond and Kwamena led this workshop and dove deep into JetPack, giving a more technical tutorial on how to develop add-ons and then led an impromtu discussion on the monetisation of add-ons. Granted, one week in Nairobi is not enough to have a panoramic understanding of a country, and culture, let alone a continent. Yet, after the time I spent there, the numerous conversations I’ve had and all the different materials I was able to read there, I do return to Europe with a few key takeaways:

Nairobi is Africa’s main IT and tech hub, together with Johannesburg.

It is teeming with developers, start-ups of innovative technology and NGO’s, of digital design schools and of hacker spaces attracting “African techies” from all over the continent.

No wonder Google has its main Africa office there.

The more people learn about the collaborative and open nature of the Mozilla Project, the more people will want to contribute. Broadband penetration is growing steadily in Nairobi although it is still very low and outrageously expensive in much of Africa; computers are still very expensive relative to average income


Laptop killer
Mobile phone penetration is sky-rocketing across the continent and they are used increasingly to access the internet, causing a sea-change in information access; everywhere you look, you will find someone texting, transferring money, updating their Facebook status, checking the latest football, or just googling, via their mobile phone. Uptake in smartphones is increasing steadily, especially in East and Southern Africa, although overall penetration remains low

Smartphones will eventually be the laptop killer in most of Africa as mobile internet usage explodes and the cost of smartphones, like mobile phones, is driven down into the mass market price point-So what does this mean for Mozilla? First, it means that the amazing work that my colleagues in the Mozilla Mobile team are doing is that much more important.

For Mozilla to be riding the wave of this mobile revolution and support an open web in Africa, we need to be developing the best mobile browser out there. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. Second, we need to be much more present in Africa, and in my view, particularly in Nairobi, to share and engage with the amazing pool of talent, and innovators the city offers.


Africa’s software developers build global gems from dusty kiosks
Lastly, Mozilla needs to reach out and explore ways to collaborate with projects like Ushahidi, FrontlineSMS, Nairobits etc, who work on innovative open source humanitarian projects but who could benefit greatly from the support from Mozilla’s community.

What next for Mozilla in Africa? There is so much to do in Africa, so many possibilities and opportunities. The first thing I would like to do is build on the “community momentum” and follow-up with all the Mozillians I met from Kenya, Burundi, Malawi and Ghana to build community portals, localise Mozilla products and websites and recruit new contributors.

A short-to-medium term project I’d like to see happen will be the organisation of a “Mozilla tech tour” where a group of Mozilla developers travel to Africa’s main tech hubs (Nairobi, Johannesburg, Accra, Cairo) for a series of training workshops on open web technologies and engage with Africa’s best developers. And of course, in the long term, I’d love to see Mozilla open an office in Nairobi.
Quiviger is the Global Community Manager, Mozilla Corp.
 

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Great article.
But I don't think u should{Nairobi} Win that title u crave.
But surely, In East Africa!
 

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Whatever happened to this outsourcing boom that was promised in Africa for ages. People were talking of call centres and back offices springing up in SA, Nairobi and Ghana in particular. Never happened.
 

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美国: Rep KE
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great article.
But I don't think u should{Nairobi} Win that title u crave.
But surely, In East Africa!
That's not my quote, besides East Africa is a small world why would we confine ourself to a battle we had already won as soon as the whistle went off.
 

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Whatever happened to this outsourcing boom that was promised in Africa for ages. People were talking of call centres and back offices springing up in SA, Nairobi and Ghana in particular. Never happened.
i am not sure exactly what you are reffering to or what is the situation in other african countries, but i do know that in kenya there was a private ICT park that was just completed mid this year.

here are the pics by ernestombayo and mwafrika. as you can see from the renders it is actually a big park. i wish i could get an ariael picture showing the full scope of the park because the ground level pictures really cant capture the full size




Building B



Building C











the large government ICT park is still on course. the land is still being acquired. legal issues and inflated land prices are slowing down the process but there is tangible progress being made. this is is a government-private venture so beauracracy and red tape slow down progress.
 

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Mutu ya Chuma.
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i am guessing that means good job?! what does kitoko mean? lingala facile used that word alot in its reports.
Kitoko means "Beautiful". The whole phrase means. The game is so beautiful/awsome"

Great stuff man. Love it. when it comes to office management stuff? I think Congo still lives in the middle ages. Every Congolese will tell you this (Has nothing to do with the human scum government), its the whole country.:eek:hno::eek:hno:


All Congolese do is selling and buying , traveling around the world for business
.Hence Kenya Airways gold mine in Congolese Air industry, not just Kenya, but Tanzania, Zambezi airlines, South african, Ethiopia, Akriyan , and the new Belgian-Congolese airline "Korongo Air" [Ugly name], Congo Epress to SA-Lubumbashi-J'bourg , Kinshasa), Emitares. All flying to Lubumbashi and some in Kisangani.

But i like facts that African Airlines have a market. This is a business in the making. If we get to host 2015 or 2017 ACN, it will be the begging of a sweet future for airlines.
 

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美国: Rep KE
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I am not sure exactly what you are reffering to or what is the situation in other african countries, but i do know that in kenya there was a private ICT park that was just completed mid this year.

. . the large government ICT park is still on course. the land is still being acquired. legal issues and inflated land prices are slowing down the process but there is tangible progress being made. this is is a government-private venture so beauracracy and red tape slow down progress.
Large swathes of these Office blocks space have been leased to the government ICT program to the tune of KSh 2 Billion annual rate hopefully sticky-issues are sorted out in Malili.^^
 

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Large swathes of these Office blocks space have been leased to the government ICT program to the tune of KSh 2 Billion annual rate hopefully sticky-issues are sorted out in Malili.^^


If and when Malili is completed, I can surely say that will be the beginning of ICT driven economy for real in Kenya. I know the potential is great if that is successful having seen the Tech city in Hedyrabad, India. That project will drive kenyan economy just by itself if it succeeds. Companies which may not even be ICT related will build there because of the incentives associated with that Tech city. In Hyderabad's tech city I have seen even drug manufacturing companies like Norvatis have constructed huge offices and factories there among many many more companies. So lets pray that Malili Tech City really succeeds in the end, and lets hope that will be soon.
 

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美国: Rep KE
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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
If and when Malili is completed, I can surely say that will be the beginning of ICT driven economy for real in Kenya. I know the potential is great if that is successful having seen the Tech city in Hedyrabad, India. That project will drive kenyan economy just by itself if it succeeds. Companies which may not even be ICT related will build there because of the incentives associated with that Tech city. In Hyderabad's tech city I have seen even drug manufacturing companies like Norvatis have constructed huge offices and factories there among many many more companies. So lets pray that Malili Tech City really succeeds in the end, and lets hope that will be soon.
You are right, infact that technology city could rival Nairobi CBD more so when peripheral businesses and ICT startups expand beyond its boundaries. The potential is huge when you look at what Safaricom has contributed to the Kenyan IT subsector you will begin to appreaciate how huge the potential is. Malili could easily be not only Africa's refferal Palo_Alto but also focal point in the Southern hemisphere if implement in the due course. Having said that it is still not going to be easy in lieu of the capital and sacrifice that will be required.
 

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When I think of ICT in East Africa, I think of Kenya or Rwanda.

The ICT development is embarrassingly low in Ethiopia, probably the least developed in the world. I don't expect it grow remarkably in the near future either as long as the monopoly continues.

Btw, that business park looks really good!
 

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美国: Rep KE
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Kisumu do you have a source on the cost of this interesting project? Kenya is doing very well for herself.
The complete cost evaluation is not out but my guess is that it will run into some billions of $. That project will definatey change our ICT landscape.
 

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Whatever happened to this outsourcing boom that was promised in Africa for ages. People were talking of call centres and back offices springing up in SA, Nairobi and Ghana in particular. Never happened.
Amazon.com just opened up a new CS centre in Cape Town. They plan to be over 1000 people strong by this time next year.
 

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Whatever happened to this outsourcing boom that was promised in Africa for ages. People were talking of call centres and back offices springing up in SA, Nairobi and Ghana in particular. Never happened.
Infrastructural obstacles. However with projects like the ones posted above as well as upgrades in internet (EASSy and SEACOM, etc), I expect it to BOOM in the next 10 years, many countries are already starting to see it move in.
 

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美国: Rep KE
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
African Headquarters of Bharti will be in Nairobi


TNN, Apr 2, 2010, 12.32am IST
MUMBAI: In a bid to give its mega $10.7 billion Zain deal a leg-up, Bharti Airtel has decided to base its African headquarters in Kenya's capital Nairobi. Expatriates from Bharti, Zain employees and a new team are to man the international venture, according to people in the know. The mega buyout, however, is by no means the end of fresh investments for the Indian multinational.

A global consortium, of which Bharti is a part, launched an undersea cable between Japan and the west coast of the US on Thursday, providing high-capacity bandwidth access across the Pacific region. Bharti Airtel's investment in the project is part of its plans to expand its global network through its ownership of 'i2i' submarine cable system.
Besides Bharti Airtel, the other partners of the Unity consortium includes Global Transit, Google, KDDI Corp, Pacnet and SingTel.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com
 
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