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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.

  • A new College of Information Technology has been established in Liberia to offer an Associate Degree in Information Technology. The College, formerly known as Starz Institute of Technology, was granted license by the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education and National Commission on Higher Education to operate as a degree-granting institution in Information Technology. The College, now referred to as the Starz College of Technology, is Liberia’s first degree-granting IT institution to offer degree in the discipline and other professional studies at the institute. Also the Starz College of Technology has developed an information technology program under the name “Starz for Kids” to provide IT skills training and ducation in various disciplines such as math, spelling, reading and Art, among others to Liberian youth. According to the administration of the school, the initiative will help to broaden the minds of Liberia’s future generation and help them gain interest in technology. The program is expected to operate in three different categories with students having access to computer and typing skills, Mathematics, English and spelling lessons along with educational and challenging computer games. The IT kid academy is first of its kind in the country for children between 5 and 15.
  • My favorite post of the week, from Techloy: Francis Onwumere, co-founder of Digital Craft Studiosexpands on how to scale the barriers to Collaboration in the Nigerian Tech Ecosystem. Even though this is Nigeria in particular he talks about, I believe the recommendations and analysis apply to many other African tech eco-systems.
  • Enablis Entrepreneurial Network in collaboration with the NetHope Academy have launched the Growing IT Entrepreneurs project in Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana. Enablis and Nethope believe that IT skills are in high demand, generating opportunities for youth to participate in core aspects of the economy  if they can get the necessary real-world entrepreneurial training and support, then they can create jobs and come up with innovative solutions.
  • Airtel announced the introduction of the fastest mobile Internet in Rwanda, with the launch of its 3.75G platform in the country. The improved technology will enhance multimedia functionality, high speed mobile broadband and internet access; allowing users to make video calls, watch live TV, send and receive emails and download music from the devices. This is the latest global HSPA+ technology with up to 21 Mbps speed, also being rolled out in Europe and the USA. It is the fastest and latest 3G available and will be enormously beneficial for a variety of users, which include large Corporates, Small or Medium Businesses and the Youth.
  • How to set off in Mobile Advertising in Africa – “Please Call Me”, WAP, Metrics & More: Good insight on mobile advertising techniques in Africa.
  • Cheki Africa Media runs, a Kenyan online car classifieds business. The company also has dedicated websites for Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda. How we made it in Africa’s Dinfin Mulupispeaks to Carey Eaton, founder of Cheki Africa Media.
  • The $200 Nexus 7 Google Tablet is a Game-Changer for ICT Adoption in Africa by Wayan Vota.
  • SiliconAfrica: The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) have just  announced the call for the 2013 Innovation Prize for Africa(IPA). Eligible are innovations by Africans for Africa. Africans in the Diaspora can also apply if their innovations are of significance to Africa. The winning proposal will be awarded a cash prize of USD100,000, with the two runner-ups receiving USD25,000. The registration deadline for the 2013 prize has been set for 31 October 2012. The ICTs priority are recognizes innovative ICTs applications that have demonstrated their potential in addressing key development challenges in African societies (e.g. in communities) or economy, including:- Software (application development, software design and development, enterprise application development, or platform development) and may include new development, or any other activities that result in software products for addressing a key development challenge.
    • Mobile/Wireless Technologies that demonstrate how underprivileged people can use devices for social and economic benefits with the possibility to spawn micro-enterprises and generate employment.
    • Local Language Software known as “localisation” requires definition and implementation of standards. These standards include character set encoding, keyboard (and keypad) layouts, collation/sorting sequence, locale and ICT terminology. In addition to definition of standards, applications also need to be developed for local language computing to support access and generation of local language content.
  • From Techloy:  Another good analysis on why mobile money is having trouble taking off in Nigeria: Reasons include heavy regulation, bank led initiatives as opposed to telco led ones, a fragmented offerings market and significant infrastructural and information barriers, of which the contribution of Kenyan National Identity Cards to the identification process required in operating Mpesa stood up to me as quite a glaring example.
  • A guest post on TechMtaa discussing the various definitions that “local content” can take. Quite insightlful.One school of thought believes local content is web content that has its contextual origin in the region it is utilized or served from while the other means content hosted in data centers that are local to the country.
  • Samsung Electronics South Africa has announced that it will assemble some of its computer monitors in South Africa through its assembly plant in Longmeadow Business Estate East in Edenvale, Gauteng.Samsung is looking to cut costs on monitors sold in Africa as well as optimise on the quality of products meant for the continent’s market.
  • The Cameroonian government and mobile operator MTN have signed an agreement to bring fiber optic cable internet access to Cameroon through the WACS cable system which already connects quite a few African countries. A judicial entity will be set up to manage the access in conjunction with the mobile operator.
  • Calculateur 28 is a new SMS application operating in Senegal, Gabon and Burkina Faso allowing women to keep track of important dates in their cycles, especially fertility periods.
  • According to some Kenyan banks, Mpesa could be causing a “financial crisis” and some sought to have the company shut down. But digging down in the fact reveals that this was a move by a cartel of banks to stamp out a pwerful competitor.
  • Burkina Faso’s government is thinking of a strategy to create a paperless administration.
  • Cote d’Ivoire: A local union UNATEC-CI made of communication technicians and a local company 2tehm Technologie  have signed an agreement to retrain data entry personnel who are at risk of losing their jobs as webmasters.2Tehm will create a website that will operate for three years and be used as a training tool. This will be a good way to prevent job losses by allowing this personnel to adapt to the new technological environment.
  • Koumba Boly Barry, Burkina’s Education minister wants to tackle the country’s 70% illiteracy rate and bring it down to 60% by introducing educational tablets in the classroom through  a joint project by the World Bank, UNICEF, the African Development Bank and the Burkinabe government.
  • June 28th 2012 in Cinsanke, Togo, the fiber optic lines of Ghana, Togo and Burkina were joined together as a result of a collaboration between Ghana’s Vodafone, Burkina’s Onatel, and Togo Telecom. This new connection has a 350 Gbs bandwidth and will increase bandwidth for all three concerned countries.

That is all for this week.