African Tech News Tidbits – Week of July 15th 2012

Walking Directions from Google Africa
Walking Directions from Google Africa

On this week’s African Tech Weekly show we will be discussing the exciting new Coders4Africa social campaign aimed at training 30 African programmers from September  to December 2012, following a ‘real life project training model’, 30 African coders will create 5 mobile and web solutions that will impact their communities. Please participate and help make this project possible. This is what we are all about. Now for the African Tech News Tidbits for this week:

  • A sarcastic take on expat living in Nigeria, that can easily be expanded to other African countries. Nugget:

    I’ll share a little story: A Nigerian family friend who is a senior engineer with a big foreign construction company went to the mansion of an influential Nigerian politician to carry out some repairs together with his young white junior assistant. As they entered the house, a daughter of the politician gave the white man a seat and ignored his black superior. The white man of course kindly explained that he was not in charge, but his boss who had been totally snubbed. Don’t ask me how the story ended. The moral of the story is that we love you more than we love ourselves.

  • Nokia’s Series 40 has overtaken Symbian as the most used mobile operating system in Nigeria for the first time, according to latest statistics from StatCounter. In case you don’t know, Series 40 is the world’s most widely used mobile platform and found in hundreds of millions of devices. Officially introduced in 1999, over 1.5 billion Series 40 devices have reportedly been sold as at January 2012. The trend is confirmed in Keyna as well with the Symbian OS saw about 30% decrease in usage while the Series 40 OS saw about 28% usage increase between April and June 2012 in the East African country. In a separate but related article, Nigeria’s ThisDay argues that “in Nigeria, most people are gradually shifting to the use of smartphones as the devices enable them perform several features that enhance business and personal lifestyles.” and documents the rise of smartphones in popularity with the users, in particular Android ones.
  • Google Maps for Africa gets better – walking directions launched!, bringing walking directions for 44 African countries!   Now something that makes sense.
  • As part of its Africa-wide expansion plans, Nigeria’s premier content aggregation site, Sturvs has just been launched in Ghana and is expected to launch in Kenya in a few weeks. The new Ghana site aggregates content from news sources such as OMG Ghana, Modern Ghana and Ghana Business News.
  • Big news in the iNollywood wold is that iROKO Partners had before now formally asked the owners of Afrinolly to remove all its copyrighted content from iROKO’s  YouTube channel, NollywoodLove and other channels or face legal action.
  • The South African government announced on July 8, that they would begin offering electronic visas in an effort to increase tourism and relations with other African nations such as Nigeria.
  • Researchers hope to harness mobile phone technology to improve water supplies in rural parts of Africa.A team from the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom, proposes installing handpumps containing devices that automatically send text messages to local water engineers whenever pumps break down or dry up. The device, known as a waterpoint data transmitter, is fitted into handpump handles, and automatically monitors the number of strokes made when a pump is operated. This data, which provides estimates of daily and seasonal demand, including critical under- or over-usage information, is then transmitted to a central hub – thus informing engineers, cheaply and regularly, of the need for repairs, and helping to ensure a constant flow of water.The researchers will trial their idea, which is known as the ‘Smart Handpumps’ initiative, in 70 villages in Kenya next month (August). A prototype transmitter was successfully trialled in Zambia in 2011. Not everybody is a fan though, Wayan Vota instead suggests that instead of a mobile phone/pump combo, which will need power, top-up, and constant maintenance, what about just giving local villagers the phone number of the local water engineers?
  • Namibia: AfricaOnline, formerly MWeb Namibia, is rolling out WiFi hotspots in Windhoek, with more centres to follow. Marc Gregan, general manager of AfricaOnline, said the massive increase in users of mobile devices and laptops led to the decision to expand the product.
  • Africa: Has Continent Missed Domain Extension Opportunity? The African continent accounted for a paltry 13 English name applications. Peanuts compared to the enterprising Donuts Inc, who went out on a US$65million limb and applied for a staggering 307 new top level domains. The names that Donuts (Domain Nuts) have applied for run the generic gamut from .RUGBY to .CASINO, .FAMILY, .BLOG and even a controversial few like .SUCKS. If things turn out as it hopes, it will profit by making it affordable and simple for businesses and individuals to lay claim to their online territory.
  • Eritrea: New graduates from the Eritrean Institute of Technology (EIT) expressed readiness to back up national development programs. They also said that they would work hard to supplement the knowledge they have acquired with experience.
  • Kenya: Mobile Money Set to Change Kenya’s Retail Shopping
  • Kenya: Digital TV Will Be in Major Towns By December: LL the major towns in the country will have Digital Terrestrial Television signals by the end of 2012 as the country migrates from analogue TV, Information minister Samuel Poghisio said in Mombasa on Tuesday night. He said the government is committed to move to digital TV for the majority of the viewing population by December. “As a country we are determined that by the end of this year, we should have at least our four million viewers in the main cities already migrating to digital TV, with this we’ll be ahead of the 2015 deadline,” said Poghisio at the launch of Multichoice’s Gotv in Mombasa.
  • The big news in Senegal this week is the launch of the localized Senegalese Youtube, just like Ghana two weeks ago. A localized version of YouTube means that it will now be easier for users to find and view locally relevant videos on  For example, content uploaded by record label and music management Prince Arts Music or TV Production company Art Bi Manageman, or by other Senegalese users, will surface first in the browsing pages.  
  • Samsung vs Huawei: The battle of the affordable smartphones begins: Huawei launched its sub-$100 Ideos X1 Android smartphone in Kenya about two years ago, many were filled with anticipation for the coming African smart phone revolution. The device did not disappoint, becoming the best-selling smartphone in Kenya in the first quarter of 2011. Till date, Huawei has reportedly sold over 350,000 Ideos phones in Kenya and counting. The Samsung Galaxy Pocket is Samsung’s latest push into the affordable African smartphone market.Both devices clearly target similar demographics and the smartphone market is set for a battle between the two devices in markets like Kenya. The Samsung Galaxy Pocket retails at about Ksh 9,999 (about $118) while Huawei’s Ideos X1 currently retails at Ksh 6,798 (about $80). To increase the Galaxy Pocket’s appeal among Kenyans, Samsung launched a ‘buy one get one free’ campaign in Kenya recently. During its Kenyan launch, it brought together a select group of students  from Kenyan schools including University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology amongst others to help launch the device.
  • Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dell Inc. Michael Dell made a surprise visit to Nigeria on Friday, June 15, 2012. This historic visit was in fulfillment of a promise made by Michael in September 2010 when Computer Warehouse Group visited the Dell Executive Briefing Center (EBC) in Texas with some customers from Nigeria, including Ecobank International. The appointment of Nigerian, Nnamdi Orakwue as Executive Director, Strategy and Operations by Dell may have in no small measure contributed to actualizing the trip.
  • Kenyan Elections Authority to Involve Hackers in Testing its Electronic Systems: The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is looking to replicate the experience of India which offered even upto Ksh 1.5 Million to hackers who would have penetrated the Voter Verifiable Paper Trial (VVPT) machine. The VVPT is an electronic voting machine (EVM) that prints out paper as proof of data transmitted through it.
  • With all the talk latey of open data, this right here is definitely cool: The IFPRI researchers in HarvestChoice, a joint program with the University of Minnesota, have therefore been busy generating new spatial data, harmonizing them with data compiled from a range of other sources, and making the entire collection available on the Harvest Choice website, along with tools for exploring the information in creative ways.

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