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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.

 
  • My story of the week: . Raindolf Owusu is a 3rdlevel University Student of Methodist University Ghana. He runs OasisWebSoft a software developing Start-up which finally gave birth to Anansi Browser and OS. Anasi Operating System is an openSUSE 12.1 clone OS that was developed on Linux kernel which redefines the Unix desktop user experience.  The Anansi OS experienced 3000 downloads within 2 weeks of launch. The OS is an open source software so it attract no fee for download.
  • Google has rolled out a new service in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya that lets Gmail users send and receive emails using the built-in SMS features of their mobile phones.According to Google Africa:

    “You can now send and receive emails as SMS messages using your mobile phone, regardless of whether or not your phone has an internet connection, like Wifi or 3G. Gmail SMS works on any phone, even the most basic ones which only support voice and SMS.
    Gmail SMS automatically forwards your emails as SMS text messages to your phone and you can respond by replying directly to the SMS. You can control the emails received by replying with commands such as MORE, PAUSE and RESUME. Additionally, compose a new email as an SMS and send to any email address recipient – who will find your message in the right email conversation thread!”.

  • Execellent read: 5 Tech Ecosystem Cultural Differences: East Africa vs Silicon Valley.
  • Six African countries have joined the growing number of African Virtual University (AVU) Member States, confirming that AVU offers an alternative solution to access to quality higher education on the continent.The countries which ratified the AVU Charter to become Member States include: Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, and South Sudan. African Virtual University (AVU) is a Pan African Intergovernmental Organization whose aim is to significantly increase access to quality higher education and training through the innovative use of Information and Communication Technologies.
  • According to TechTalkAfrica, Eskimi announced that they will be launching a mobile money marketing platform that will include special tools to acquire, educate, and research customers. Eskimi is the largest mobile-based social networking platform in Africa. The platform aims to connect Africans with other Africans. Not long ago, Eskimi hit 7 million customers and became the largest mobile social networking for Africans to meet new people in Africa. According to reports Eskimi largest market Nigeria, with more than half of it’s members calling Nigeria home. The company is recruiting sales teams in Nigeria and Ghana, and will be expanding in other African markets.
  • Airtel Burkina Faso, the largest mobile company in the country, has launched its mobile money platform named Airtel Money, or m-ligdi, in partnership with Ecobank. The platform allows consumers to top up their phones with air time, send and receive money, pay their critical utility bills, access their bank accounts.
  • Abidjan gears up for first Startup Weekend’s first
  • According to the British Council Director of Programmes Mutuku Nguli the Microsoft Academic Programmes is expected to train more than 20,000 school leaders and teachers across Sub Saharan Africa and provide more than 100,000 learners and communities with digital access, whilst also promoting literacy. “We formed this partnership (with Microsoft) based on the complementary expertise in technology and internationalism in education.  We seek to combine expertise in order to increase innovative teaching and learning practices and better prepare young people for life and work in the 21st century”.
  • The story behind Kenya’s dominance in mobile money.
  • This September,  g|Uganda Google’s event team is coming back to Kampala happening September 7-8 in Kampala and they’re mixing things up in a big way, from hosting our guests at a truly original venue (an amusement park!) to two full days of fresh content for our business and developer audiences.
  • The advent of new, cost-effective methods of communication – including Skype, WhatsApp Messenger and Facebook – in Zimbabwe has diluted the impact of Short Message Service (SMS) claims a report in The Standard. The advent of newly-available, cost-effective methods of communication platforms in Zimbabwe has diluted the impact of Short Message Service (SMS).Per second billed calls, together with these instant communication platforms, has empowered consumers with cheaper alternatives to the SMS, which is beginning to be viewed as older messaging system technology with limited functionality and high rates.
  • The African Union has quite an ambitious agenda to create in a near future a Pan African University of science, technology and innovation with the purpose to address the complete failure of most of the higher education institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • #SunuCause is Senegal’s first social web hashtag on Twitter. It aims to raise consciousness on various social issues as well as collect funds towards solving these issues. Its first successful campaign has concluded and resulted in the delivery of the skin ointment worth about $9 needed for a 2 month old with a skin condition. #sunucause is the brainchild of the same social activists behind the #sunu2012 tag which helped monitor the presidential elections of this year.
  • Moroccan manufacturer of computers DataPlus has launched the first touch pads “made in Morocco” under the brand name RMC, Jeune Afrique reported on Wednesday.The Moroccan tablets are assembled in Bouskoura (a few kilometers from Casablanca) from components imported mainly from South Korea. These touchpads have been commercialized online since early June by the distributor network of DataPlus and in the country’s supermarkets (including Carrefour and Metro).
  • Money Express Mobile is a new mobile money solution being rolled out in Senegal by the Chaka group. The Chaka Group, created in 1994 by the Senegalese entrepreneur Meissa Deguene Ngom, is comprised of three units: Chaka Computer, Call Me and Money Express. The case focuses on Money Express and its benefits for the poor. From the outset, Money Express’s goal was to be the market leader in transfer and remittance services for West African immigrants in Europe and the United States. To send money from abroad, Money Express clients need only a Senegalese or West African passport.
  • Osiris looks at all the  entrants in the Senegalese social network and wonders about the difficulty that they have in signing up and retaining users. I liked their analysis in that they looked at China and Japan and how the local social networks have more users than Facebook and argue that maybe the problem is in the use of the French language that drives users to a larger and more established player like Facebook than to these unproven models (Walabook, Diousy, Setsima). They recommend that maybe a social network in Wolof would prove more engaging and relevant than a pale imitation of Facebook with some Senegalese flavor.

That is all for this week.