Here is what has been happening in the world of African Tech this week:
- An interview with Jason Njoku, founder of IrokoTV, known as the “netflix of Africa”. Some good insight in a young business that makes sense because the demand is there on it. On the challenges of growth in Africa, this particular nugget stood out to me: “At present, more people watch iROKOtv in London than they do in the whole of Nigeria.”
- Think you can’t get rich of the Tech in Africa, think again, and again, and again. You get the point? No, then read this article on 5 Kenyan Internet millionaires and weep at your self inflicted misery. Now go back to work so next time, I can list your name here too.
- The International Day for Women in NTIC is on April 26th 2012, and various countries are celebrating it. In Senegal, 1000 girls will be trained in NTIC, Mrs Bitilokho Ndiaye, a technical counselor at the Senegalese Ministry of NTIC said the first step will be in training women in using computers, with software using local languages. The long terms strategy would be to push more girls toward scientific careers.
- A dramatic yet amusing report on the use (or rather misuse) of cellphones in the classrooms of Cote d’Ivoire. Although officially banned from schools, cellphones are ever present in Ivorian schools, and not used in the best possible ways according to the report. Quote from teacher:”Nowadays, we are surprised to find that during class, students get really comfortable and focused on watching movies, pornographic most of the time, instead of following the course”, by a teacher in a high school of Abobo, a popular district of Abidjan. And by students, I bet he means male students. If not movies, the report continues, students are either listening to FM radio, or watching soap operas broadcast daily after the 1:00PM news on RTI, the national television. Cellphones are also used for cheating, this one teacher reported catching a student who admitted to looking for answers to the quizz he was taking online. If it’s not online they look for answers, it’s through SMS sent to friends outside the classroom. Educators are complaining that cellphones are detrimental to the learning environment and on top of phones ringing during class, which totally disturbs the class focus, students rather get in groups and listen to music or watch indecent movies during study hours instead of studying. The schools are trying to fight this with bans, awareness campaigns and confiscations. If found in violation of the rules, a student’s cell phone can be confiscated for the whole school year. Teachers complain that even when parents are involved and called to intervene, they often reply that they have better things to worry about.The students more than often re-offend once their cellphones are returned. Of particular note, this teacher remarks that what despairs him is that he has students coming in missing some of their school supplies, but yet manage to have the latest smartphone. At the time of the interview, he was holding 24 confiscated phones in his desk drawer.
- “Yaboy”, that’s the name of the app that won the first place (Ericsson Application Awards) in the West African and Central category of the Apps for Africa challenge. Yaboy provides crowdsourced information on the prices of fish in different areas of Senegal. The aim is to help Senegalese become smarter consumers. It will be soon be available for download from the Google Play store with new features and other improvements, improving on the version that won the prize. Note that second place was won by FreeDeal of the ESMT school in Dakar Senegal, and third by Dunde, an e-commerce app for farmers and ranchers.
- Not essentially tech related, but there is a heated debate going on right now because of the Burberry Spring/Summer 2012 collection and its African or lack thereof inspiration. At issue here:
Leading African global and style culture magazine from This Day, ARISE Magazine, reportedly, placed a call to world-renowned label BURBERRY to find out what inspired their Spring/Summer 2012 which featured heavily what we refer to in these parts as Ankara (tribal print) (but what was officially referred to as eclectic print by Burberry) The label was reported to have said it was NOT inspired by Africa. It is this statement that has caused uproar as African fashion stakeholders are scandalized that Burberry would state that it did not draw inspiration from Africa as regards a collection that featured overwhelming prints that have been regarded as and are believed to be distinctly African.
- In other video related news, Buni.Tv a new Pan African web and mobile Pan-African digital video platform for you to check out. At launch, the platform will offer the entire 5 seasons of the very popular Kenyan political satire The XYZ Show (produced by parent company Buni Media), award-winning Kenyan animation films like Kwame Nyong’o’s The Legend of Ngong Hills, documentaries by Egyptian filmmaker Abu Bakr Shawky, Nigerian children TV program Bino and Fino, music videos from across the continent, as well as content provided by its partnership with Scotland’s Africa in Motion film festival. Buni TV will also act as a curator, showcasing film trailers and other videos already existing online but notoriously hard to find.
- #UgandaSpeaks: A New Ugandan Bloggers’ Initiative to Correct #Kony2012 Mistakes on TechMtaa.
- After Dakar, it’s Startup Weekend time in Kampala, Uganda from April 27th to the 29th 2012.