Marketing digital. Making results.

ExtJS 4.0: Keeping a row at the top position in a GridPanel

I’ve had the need for a grid I am working on keep a row representing the user currently logged in as the top row in the grid. Mind you there is no paging on this grid. I am using a slightly outdated version of ExtJS, i.e 4.0. I tried listening to the viewready event on the grid itself or its view but those events were not firing. Seems the viewready event is only available on the view as of ExtJS 4.1. To alleviate this problem the next best thing available to me was the refresh event, which event though would be called many times over did the job of informing me of when the view rows are actually displayed, which the afterrender event does not provide.

I ended adding the following listener to my grid’s viewConfig definition:

  viewConfig:{       loadingUseMsg:true,       listeners:{            refresh:{                  fn:me.moveUserRowToTop,                  scope:this            }      }  }  

and the moveUserRowToTop function does this:

  moveUserRowToTop:function(gridView, eOpts)  {  var store = gridView.getStore();  var currentUserRecordIndex = store.find('id',currentUser.get('id'))  if(currentUserRecordIndex > 0)  {      var currentUserRecord = store.getAt(currentUserRecordIndex);      store.removeAt(currentUserRecordIndex);      store.insert(0, [currentUserRecord]);      gridView.refresh();    }    }  

So as you can see even though the event gets fired a lot depending on your grid usage, mine is average it will only move the row if it is present and at an index greater than 0, which is exactly my use case.

Hope it helps

Africa Gathering 2013 in Washington DC

It’s back in DC this year for the 2013 edition and it’s an event you don’t want to miss if you are interested in keeping up with what’s hot and relevant about the emerging Africa; I am talking about Africa Gathering 2013. I will be there for sure, to cover the event, just as I was last year, but I am planning to make it a little more multimedia this time, with a little video content. This year’s theme is Africa Unlimited, which i like, and since my people from Coders4Africa in the person of Kwame Andah) are going to be speaking there, you know I definitely had to attend. So make sure to register, and if you see me, roar at me, I don’t bite!

Africa Gathering 2012 – The Wrap-Up

Africa Gathering 2012 was held this year at the ICC Auditorium on the campus of Georgetown University and was hosted by the African Society of Georgetown. . The lineup was excellent as always but unfortunately due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy, some of the speakers could not make it to the podium physically but as african efficient as always, put together video presentations to keep the event going.

The schedule #agdc12

The conference kicked off with a short introduction by Kathleen Bomani, the DC representative of Africa Gathering on the organization and how the idea came together and materialized in what it is today. The representant for the African Society of Georgetown was up next presenting the organization and their activities on campus. Jackson M’vunganyi of UpfrontAfrica was at the controls again this year as the MC?Moderator of the event, and he kicked it off with a video message from Kwame Andah, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Coders4Africa who presented the organization, of which full disclosure, I am an affiliate and runs theCoders4AricaRadio show for.

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NodeJS & NPM access error

After a fresh install  of NodeJS and NPM on my machine I wanted to install Express but kept running into an error:

npm ERR! Error: EACCES, open ‘/Users/devakone/.npm/64a534c1-express.lock’
npm ERR!  { [Error: EACCES, open '/Users/devakone/.npm/64a534c1-express.lock']
npm ERR!   errno: 3,
npm ERR!   code: ‘EACCES’,
npm ERR!   path: ‘/Users/devakone/.npm/64a534c1-express.lock’ }
npm ERR!
npm ERR! Please try running this command again as root/Administrator.

It seems the error is a permissions issue as the .npm folder is owned by root and the ownership needs to be assigned back to your user. To fix it, since i installed nodejs under my username, was to change the permission of the ~/.npm folder to my

chown <USERNAME> ~/.npm

should get you up and running. Test both on Mac OS X and Ubuntu 12.10.

So, what’s new?

Hi all,

Apologies for the long delay. I had to take a break in all my extra curricular activities as I started a new job, and truth be told I have not hit cruising speed yet. I love it, a lot of front end development in ExtJS, and just the kinds of challenges I love. Until I do hit that speed, it’s gonna be less updates for the Technological African blog, Coders4Africa Radio and the African Tech News Tidbits.

African Tech News Tidbits – Week of August 5th 2012

Nigerian Game Studio Maliyo Games

Here are your tidbits for this week.Enjoy!

  • VC4Africa does a feature on Maliyo Games, an interesting company based in Nigeria who produces games based on the “representation of the everyday lives and experiences of Africans”. I am curious to see how it turns out!


  • A good write up on what VCs are for all you budding entrepreneurs. If you don’t know what VC stands for, and are thinking of starting your own business, then you need to read all the more.
  • As part of its aggressive campaign to capture a larger data market share, Orange has opened up its 42 Mbps network in Nairobi, Kenya which will see internet users experience faster speeds on their e-mails, social media platforms and general browsing.
  • A good read on social traffic apps in Nigeria, led by the popularity of the Gidi Traffic twitter user, who is a human source of traffic information around Lagos.
  • AfriqueITNews,ca  good source of IT News (now if they would only provide a RSS feed) specially in French speaking countries is launching in Senegal its 30 day app challlenge called Ianota Startup Challenge. Developers have 30 days to come up with a web or mobile app based on 50 preselected projects and they will get to present on August 31st.

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African Tech News Tidbits – Week of August 12th 2012

Google Africa

As usual don’t forget to check out the podcast of theAfrican Tech Weekly over at Coders4Africa Radio. We are now available on iTunes and soon in the Zune store. If you are doing something interesting in technology in Africa and you want the world to know about it, reach out!


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CakePHP 2.0: AjaxHelper does not implement a link() method, it is incompatible with PaginatorHelper error message

Upgrading Nouchi.Mobi from 1.3 to 2.0, i got this error on my page and spent quite a few moments trying to debug. I narrowed it down to this call I was making:

$this->helpers['Paginator'] = array(‘ajax’ => ‘Ajax’);

This sets up Ajax pagination in CakePHP 1.3 by using the AjaxHelper class but in 2.0, this functionality has been delegated to the JsHelper. I removed that line from the code and was on my way from then on. Refer to this link in the official documentation to properly set up Ajax Pagination in CakePHP 2.0; all that is needed is the RequestHandler component, and the Js Helper.

African Tech News Tidbits: Week of July 8th 2012

STARZ Institute of Technology in Libera

The sister program to the African Tech News Tidbits is now live. The African Tech Weekly on Coders4Africa Radio will, as previously announced be broadcast every Sunday at 1:00PM East/17:00GMT from Koun Fayah Koun Studios in Laurel MD. We feature the movers and shakers of the African Tech world, those you have heard about and mostly those that you should hear about. This Sunday we will feature Max Bonbhel, president of the Java User Group Africa, Senam Beheton, founder of tech hub EtriLabs, and Kwame Andah, Director of Communications for Coders4Africa, and of course, talk more about these #atntidbits right hurrr! Be sure to tune in, and the podcasts from the show.


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African Tech News Tidbits – Week of July 15th 2012

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:


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African Tech News Tidbits – Week of July 22nd 2012

raindolf owusu

Welcome back to another edition! Don’t forget that we still need your help with training the next batch of African Software Engineers. And in Sunday’s African Tech Weekly, we will be interviewing Raindolf Owusu,creator of the Anansi Operating System, the first African Operating System.


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Mobile App Highlight: Dropifi from Ghana

From VC4Africa, the winners of the recent Startup Weekend in Accra with their app Dropifi (not be confused with this Dropify, or this one for that matter):

“Dropifi is a messaging platform that seeks to bridge the relationship gap between visitors to a website and the business owners. Many websites, if not all, have a means of reaching-out to them, most have “contact us” forms and some provide address and location. The contact forms, when filled our correctly, are usually routed to the mail clients of the business owners. Traditional email clients are not designed to extract intelligence from the messages received.

Mail plug-ins such as Rapportive give more information about the contact, other tools like Olark andGetSatisfaction engage the visitors to provide them answers they might be looking for. However, most of these tools have too many features for small businesses. The complex user interface design hides essential features from enterprise users. Dropifi seeks to provide the essential features for (both) small and large-scale companies to build relationships with their site visitors.”

Good stuff!

African Mobile Tablets: A Reality

VMK TabletI ran into this recent article  from the sharp African Tech Evangelist Robert Alai discussing the topic of African tablets with Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe, an inventor who holds a patent on a microchip used in minimally invasive surgical robots. I’ve first heard about African tablets earlier this year around June from this Engadget article about the Way C, dubbed the First African Tablet (which as with any “First” proclamation is subject to challenge), which pleasantly surprised me as I wasn’t aware of any such initiative being started on the continent. That was the work of Verone Mankou, a 25 year old Congolese entrepreneur and the news soon made the rounds on Twitter, with good coverage in local newspapers and French media.


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Mobile: Comparative View Between Kenya and South Africa.

Comparison between Kenya and South Africa. Image by @mariskaza

Comparison between Kenya and South Africa. Image by @mariskaza

I’d like to direct you to this article by Mariska Du Preez titled “Mobile Technology: a comparative view between Kenya and South Africa“. Some hard numbers are given from research on the mobile market in both coutries, as well the state of the developer communities. With populations roughly equal (42 M Kenyans to 50M South Africans) mobile penetration is way ahead in SA (84 % to 56%), and what’s interesting was the labor force statisticsw which reveals that for all the advances and investment made in ICTs Kenya is still primarily an agriculture driven economy with a labour force composed of 75% of agricultural workers compared to 25 % of mixed Industry and Services. This highly contrasts with South Africa where only 9% of the labour force comes from agriculture while Industry by itself brings 26% of the force and services a whopping 65%. Interestingly both countries have about the same ratio of internet users (4.2M to  6.8M) and data is substantially cheaper in Kenya while smartphone penetration is still weak.

Du Preez makes some interesting parallels about the developer communities in both countries, for example:

  • Lots of young Kenyan obtain their degrees overseas and bring those skills back home
  • South Africans on the contrary obtain their degrees locally then go overseas to gain international experience
  • Kenyan developers are very “local solutions/socially” oriented while South Africans are more commercially and internationally driven. Erik Hersman founder of iHub in Nairobi dubs a globalized/regionalized focus amd gives Kenya an edge in mobile, not web innovation.
  • Kenya smartphone penetration is very weak, so most developers develop for feature phones. Telling statistics, Mocality, a business listing app with 67000 member accounts about 2% of combined Apple RIM and Android usage (150 000 member businesses and 21% Android traffic as of November 2011 thanks to a clarification from Stefan Magdalinski).

A very interesting read indeed with good insight. Click here to read the full article.

Mariska also provided some good links on getting Internet stats for Africa

For African Internet Stats

For Mobile and Social Media Stats

Update 12-13-2011: As Stefan Magdalinski remarked out in the comments, take the stats with a grain of salt as they date from 18 months ago as of December 2011 and Kenya is a rapidly changing market. He also pointed out that Mocality now has 150000 member businesses and sees 21% traffic from Android devices as of November 2011

A good primer on Javascript

Want to learn Javascript, or need a refresher? Check out this article here

Get started with the JavaScript language, Part 1: JavaScript language fundamentals

by Kris Hadlock on DeveloperWorks.

Have you heard about Konza City?

Konza City

Konza City

When it comes to ICTs, Kenya has demonstrated that it is deservedly one of the leaders in the new Africa. I was recently directed to learn about Konza City by Amadou Daffe of Coders4Africa, who came back impressed with the Kenya and its ICT community from a recent trip to Kenya for a conference. What is Konza City? First you need to head over and visit the site to see the blue prints, 3D rendering of the vision for this new technopolis the government of Kenya wants to create.

Konza City is a foray into the future, and the intention here is to create a 2000 hectare (~7.7 square miles for the metric system challegend readers), $7 billion technopolis 60KM from downtown Nairobi and 50KM from Jomo Kenyatta International airport on a clean sheet site based on successful new town projects around the world put together by an international team of experts, drawing on best practice from places such as the UK, China and Brazil to ensure global competitiveness. Konza City will provide the best ICT infrastructure in Kenya, and probably in Eastern Africa and will also function as a business center with excellent transport and communication links. The city layout will include a modern transport infrastructure, a BPO technological park, a  business district, a science park, a university campus and overall, green and open spaces. The city will be developed in 4 phases to allow phased development permitting rapid growth whilst ensuring that the civic amenities and infrastructure grow with the population’s needs.


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E-Book: African Apps in The Global Marketplace

I ran into this e-book totally by mistake, but nothing happens by coincidence in my book so here you go. It’s an e-book by Andrew Mugoya and you can download it from here on the AfriApps marketplace, which if you didn’t know offers great apps written African Developers.

Here is a synopsis of the book by the author himself:


African technology is in an exciting and vibrant phase with many talented developers and an unprecedented access to global markets.

However, this is not a situation unique to Africa. App development has exploded all across the world. What this means for African developers and entrepreneurs is that they are not only competing for the same global market but also facing stiffer competition for their local markets.

To be able to compete in this new world – to be able to survive – African developers and entrepreneurs will need to understand and adapt to this reality.

‘African Apps in a Global Marketplace’ is a useful read for African app developers or anyone interested in the state of the African app industry. It presents the reader with the points to consider in taking their app from a simple and fun idea into a product that can be successful globally. From conceptualisation to design, funding and marketing. Most importantly, it informs on how African apps can stand out in the crowded global marketplace.

I will definitely give it a read myself and will post a review as soon as done. Congratulations and thanks to the author, the literature is definitely needed on the African development market.

West Africa and the push for E-Government

E-Governance in Africa

Cover for E-Governance in Africa by Gianluca Misuraca

Slowly but surely, West African countries are following the lead set in East Africa in pushing E-Government. In Ivory Coast, a seminar was held last week (December 14th to the 18th 2011) on the topic of e-government moderated by Mr Georges M’bra, of the government’s scientific committee. The Ivorian government wants to modernize the administration and develop a numeric economy operating within a well defined legal and institutional context. The seminar focused on validating the roadmap the government has established so far and plan out the implementation of a series of projects scheduled for 2012 through 2017. The e-government initiative in Ivory Coast was launched in 2004 with the Center for Government Information and Communication (CICG) with a website offering downloadable documents and content on Ivorian Immigration law.


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“Driving a Rolls Royce on a dirt road”: How not to create African software


Herman Chinery-Hesse - Copyright KernelMag

Herman Chinery-Hesse is Ghanian and runs SOFTtribe, one of Africa’s largest software companies, and he is not a happy camper. In a must read interview with Kernel Mag if you are interested in African software, he details the woes that his business is facing in winning government contracts. Highlights:

All too often, the Ghananian software entrepreneur says, key public sector contracts go not to local African companies, but to first-world suppliers recommended by development agencies or their Western government backers. Even African governments are turning their back on local firms, in favour of the established multinationals, he says. And the results are stifling African enterprise.

SOFTtribe makes heavy duty software, workaday tools, think POS systems, payrolls, ERP and capital management systems and they have done well in the private industry but not in government because

African governments are, he suggests, more likely to place technology contracts with firms in Germany, France, the UK or the US, than with one in Accra.


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Titanium Mobile: error when using the AVD emulator

Doing some local development with Titanium and I noticed that when using the xhr object to hit my localhost server (, and testing using the emulator, I got this error:

(TiHttpClient-1) [7,236164] HTTP Error (
E/TiHttpClient( 417):
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.conn.DefaultClientConnectionOperator.openConnection(
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.client.DefaultRequestDirector.execute(
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.client.AbstractHttpClient.execute(
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.client.AbstractHttpClient.execute(
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at org.apache.http.impl.client.AbstractHttpClient.execute(
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at$
E/TiHttpClient( 417): at
I/TiHttpClient( 417): (TiHttpClient-1) [24,236188] Sending error

I have set up as a virtual host on my machine, and I can hit it fine doing my local development but not just from within the AVD and it hinted to me that it must be that the network setup in the AVD is not able to access my hosts file and apparently it’s because the address is used internally by Linux. A workaround is to use if you are using Linux or your local WAN/LAN address if you are on Windows (192.168.1.x).

Africa Gathering Washington DC Wrapup

So I was off to my first event of the Digital Capital Week or better known as DCWEEK this Saturday morning and made it with a thirty minutes delay to the  Kenny Auditorium at the SAIS building of John Hopkins University on Massachussets Ave. I got my brother-in-law to tag along for once and we got a warm greeting from the Africa Gathering staff on site and were relieved to find out that in fact, the event had not yet started due to the main organizer Marieme Jamme being lost in the DC streets. This must have been one if not the only time I thanked DC’s convoluted street system. In any case we were there for the start of the event and when Marieme showed up, she wasted no time in getting the event going in her energetic, determined style.

She gave us a detailed background on Africa Gathering, how it started in London cafe and aims to give African people a voice and a way to communicate with each other. I did not understand the meaning of her words until the end of the afternoon but back to Africa Gathering, after her quick introduction, Marieme got the event first presenter introduced and set to present. We got to witness and interesting presentation from the Global Conversations team at the State department highlighting their social media outreach efforts, followed by a presentation of the Diaspora African Women Network whose mission is to “develop and support talented women & girls of the African diaspora focused on African affairs”. Semhar Araia the founder, born in America from Eritrean parents was very passionate about her cause and it translated well into the audience.

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10 “Best” Code Comments

A colleague at work forwarded this link on our Dev chat channel and led me to a good session of unproductive hilarity. Code comments, when they are present, are a reflection of the personality of the programmers and it is great to see that as a community, we have quite a good sense of humor. I’ve compiled in the following list the 1o comments I found were the most hilarious or relevant. Of course this is my Top 10 and thus highly subjective:

  1. // Dear maintainer:
    // Once you are done trying to 'optimize' this routine,
    // and have realized what a terrible mistake that was, please increment the //following counter as a warning to the next guy:
    //total_hours_wasted_here = 39
  2. /** * For the brave souls who get this far: You are the chosen ones, the valiant knights of programming who toil away, without rest, fixing our most awful code. To you, true saviors, kings of men, I say this: never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you. */
  3. Exception up = new Exception("Something is really wrong."); throw up;
  4. // somedev1 - 6/7/02 Adding temporary tracking of Login screen
    // somedev2 - 5/22/07 Temporary my ass
  5. #define TRUE FALSE //Happy debugging suckers
  6. if (/*you*/ $_GET['action']) { //celebrate
  7. // If this code works, it was written by Paul DiLascia. If not, I don't know who //wrote it.
  8. //When I wrote this, only God and I understood what I was doing
    //Now, God only knows
  9. // drunk, fix later
  10. // Magic. Do not touch.

Self Starters: Disruptive Entrepreneurs at DCWEEK 2011 Core Conference

The Disruptive Entrepreneur session was one of the sessions outside of the Mobile track at the DCWEEK Core Conference that I attended because it caught my interest (Music & Politics). This session allowed two presenters to come and talk about their endeavor. The first speaker on the stage was Ruha Devanesan of PeaceTones, who through video and a presentation introduced PeaceTones, a non profit dedicated to working with musicians in developing countries.

PeaceTones gives workshops to musicians about music contracts, how to protect their intellectual property, social media marketing basics, and basic promotion. PeaceTones then organizes a contest amongs the trainees and the winner, by popular vote on Facebook, is given a recording contract, flown to the US to record a professional album, and tour. 90% of the profit from the album digital sales are returned to the artist, of which he must give a certain amount back to a social project in the community from which he is issued. Ruha gave the example of previous PeaceTones projects in Recife, Brazil, where the winning kids decided to invest back in a recording studio in their favela, and of musicians in Balan, Haiti, who invested back in a maternal clinic in their hometown.

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DCWEEK 2011 Core Conference: Mobile Sessions Wrap-Up

Trends & Innovative Uses of Mobile APIs Panel

Trends & Innovative Uses of Mobile APIs Panel

Thursday, December 10th 2011 was the big day for the DCWEEK 2011 festivities. The Core Conference, an all day affair, was held this year at the Artisphere in Rosslyn, VA. The venue was beautiful and the spaces were well set up for the sessions that would be held throughout the day. I got there a little bit before 9:00AM and took some time to find my way around the different rooms. I decided that I would be following the Mobile sessions, due to my latest interest in mobile development, and the different panels that were scheduled for the day looked interesting.

The first session of the day, a panel titled “Trends & Innovative Uses of Mobile APIs” was held in the Dome Theatre and speakers included Keith Casey of Twilio, Eric Johnson of, Mike Panchenko of SimpleGeo, Zvi Band of Contactuallyand was moderated by Hemang Gadhia of Condaptive. As implied by the title, the discussion was focused more on a high level view of APIs used to build mobile apps and their advantages and disadvantages. Panelists discussed the importance of trust as a deciding factor before picking APIs. Deprecation support was also cited as critical, as it is important for API providers to support deprecated features while providing newer ones in their latest releases. To the question of determining successful API implementation, the panel identified ease of use and documentation as examples of major factors. For API providers as well, getting their API used by bog companies serves as an endorsement for others to proceed. The panel praised the ease of entry that APIs provide to mobile developers, while pointing out that real skills now lies in creativity. APIs are so pervasive that app building can be compared to the renaissance f the mashup. As for issues of privacy, the panelists pointed out that mobile developers should be aware of the legal implications of using external providers and make sure to cover themselves in their privacy policies. Using Facebook and Twitter (OAuth) is seen as a necessary evil, because of the ease of access it provides the majority of users. The standards the panelists recommended using are built around JSON and REST. Overall this was a lively discussion with a knowledgeable panel, and the moderator Hemang asked very relevant and thoughtful questions which made for a interesting discussion.

I skipped the next session and came back for “Mobile Apps: From Smartphones to Tablets and Beyond”, which, judged by the


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Paga: A mobile payment startup in Nigeria


I recently ran into this interesting article from Forbeshighlighting Paga a Nigerian money transfer service startup. Paga launched in 2009 and has a current user base of 32000 users and $1.6M processing volume so far, attracting even US investors in the person of Tim Draper. Paga’s founder, Tayo Oviosu explains that there is a current need for this type of service in Nigeria given the fact that it is a very cash driven society and the security and logistics issues involved with carrying a lot of cash around, coupled with the ever increasing mobile ownership and phone coverage, makes a compelling case for a mobile based service such as Paga. Similar to the Kenyan M-pesa model, users who want to send money can visit a local Paga agent who will process the transaction for them minus the fee ($1 to $4), or they can transfer money directly from a prepaid Paga account using their mobile or internet enabled device.Recipients of the money do not need to be Paga customers and can withdraw the funds from Paga Agents or partner banks, or even notably in the future plans, ATMs. If you have lived in most African countries, this is a model that makes sense and works. Of course the question of stacking up to the Kenyan heavyweight M-pesa came up and Oviosu’s answer is sensible in explaining the particularities of the Nigerian market:

  • There are no efficient, secure, and universally accessible ways of transferring money across Nigeria
  • There is no dominant mobile company in Nigeria as Safaricom is in Kenya
  • The banking sector in is very fragmented in Nigeria

Tough parameters but Oviosu believes that with help from the Central Bank of Nigeria who is pushing for a Cashless Nigeria, Paga should be able to create a sustainable market that would make market entry in other African countries easier. Security, especially in Nigeria is a concern and Oviosu lays out Paga’s security architecture which includes multiple layers of authentication and access depending on the level of credibility the user has established with the system.

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Lion’s Lair, A $1500 Youth Entrepreneurship Contest by MakingAfricaWork

Making Africa Work WebsiteMaking Africa Work is an international social enterprise dedicated to building the capacity of entrepreneurial young Africans and Canadians to create sustainable wealth and employment through internships, training and collective ingenuity. Its mission is to unlock African’s economic potential by enhancing youth oriented global interaction, exposure and partnerships using modern technology and media. To that effect, MakingAfricaWork is holding an international youth (18 to 30) entrepreneurship contest with a $1500 prize and the deadline to submit applications is approaching soon on December 5 2011. Head over to the website and download and fill the application form by clicking on the Lion’s Lair logo to the left.

For reference, check out this article in the Mobile Message blog series from the National Geographic ‘s FrontlineSMS about how mobile phones are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives. It’s fascinating to see how the mobile application “Sauti ya wakulima” (Voice of the farmers in Swahili) was used by farmers in rural Tanzania:

“A group of five men and five women gather every Monday at Chambezi. There, they use a laptop with a mobile Internet connection to view the images and listen to the sound recordings they uploaded during the week. They also hand out the two available smartphones to other participants, turning the phones into shared broadcasting tools. The smartphones are equipped with GPS modules and an application that makes it easy to upload content. So far the farmers have used them to record geographically localised observations about changes in the climate, and to interview other farmers.”

Farmers were able to learn from each other and sharing knowledge helps them cope with issues such as chaning rain patterns, and scarcity of underground water and new pests and plant diseases.


“Why Africa May Never Produce a Facebook” – A Valid Argument?

vc4africaI came up on this article by Mfonobong Nsehe who also wrote the article that inspired my previous blog post< and it created a good Facebook conversation with a couple of friends of mine. From the comment section, you can also see that this has stirred up some passions. Nsehe’s question that serves as the premise for the article is:

Why hasn’t a globally-renown, groundbreaking software, social network or mobile application ever emerged from the continent?

You’ll notice the bold in “globally renown” as Africa has it shares of all the mentioned application but they are very localized by country. Why hasn’t Africa produced a global time-sink like Facebook? Notice we could replace Africa in that sentence with Latin America, Europe, Russia, or Asia, and the answers would obviously differ but yes, in my opinion, it would still be a valid question. So let’s look at Nsehe’s take on the matter. He identified more than competent (which means excellent for my Shakespearan challenged readers, you know yourselves!) African developers and technologists, you can check them out here(Mark Shuttleworth of Thawte), over there (Ory Okollo),  and bam! in your face (John Waibochi of Virtual City). Great accomplishments indeed, but giving last the example of a young lady that’s developed an amazing voice-based mobile app designed to help track the oestrus stages of their cows and is having a hard time raising seed capital, Nsehe argues that “there are no venture capital firms in Africa to fund these ventures”. Boom bada bing! And from the comments on the article that is where most people disagreed. Personally, I have an outsider’s perspective on VCs in Africa (I am registered at Vc4Africa, follow some African VC groups on LinkedIn, Twitter etc and that is as close as I’ve gotten to VC activity in Africa so far) but the sector seemed to be quite dynamic but it might be my uninformed outsider view.


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