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African Tech News Tidbits – Week of July 29th 2012

One Laptop Per Child Rwanda

So what’s new in African Tech News? A bunch of interesting tidbits as usual. But before that, I need you to take some time and head over to Start Some Good and support the 30 Coders Campaign we are currently running to sponsor the training of 33 African software developers. Also don’t forget to tune in this Sunday at 1:00PM for The African Tech Weekly show on Coders4Africa radio, as we will speak with a Senegalese coder doing his thing, and a quick trip to Ghana again this week to get the feel for the local tech scene. Now back to your regularly scheduled program:

 
  • In an exclusive interview with The New Times at the school, Yves Tumushimishe, a primary six pupil said through the skills he has acquired, he has been able to develop the mobile phone software through the use of scratch programme. Scratch is a highly engaging programming system that allows young students to create animated stories, games, interactive art, and simulations. Students use a drag and drop interface of “code blocks” to create sound, movement and actions to objects known as sprites.Tumushimishe says before getting a laptop under the OLPC programme, he did not even know how to write a single word on a computer. ”But now through the skills and knowledge I have gained from my laptop, I have developed a software which can be activated on a mobile phone and be used as a game.”He says he is looking forward to develop more software and to teach his classmates how they can develop their own and how to become more creative and innovative in ICT.”I come from a poor family and I did not have hope of ever owning a laptop. I thank the government for setting up OLPC which has totally changed my life. I plan to study computer science at the university because I want to contribute a lot to the national development in terms of ICT which I believe will spur development of our country not only in the region but internationally,” Tumushimishe said.
  • http://www.youtube.com/olympics: This is the official Youtube channel that 42 African countries can use to watch a live stream of the Olympic Games. Good looking out Google.
  • When Kenyans in the US want to send their families back home a goat for Christmas, they use Mama Mikes. This online shop, nicknamed e-mbuzi (‘mbuzi’ is Swahili for ‘goat’) because of the many goat deliveries it makes, was founded by Segeni Ngethe in 2001. Ngethe shared his experiences of running an online retail business in Kenya with How we made it in Africa’s Dinfin Mulupi.
  • Former Intel Capital director, Eghosa Omoigui, early-stage technology investor, Shadi Mehraein and former VC Finance at Founders Fund, Amber Fowler, all Partners at Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, EchoVC are currently in Lagos, Nigeria in search of investment opportunities.
  • Paga, the mobile payment solution from Nigeria we’ve featured before,  is launching a major marketing campaign called “I Can’t Shout!”.
  • In Burkina Faso, students that passed the end of high school cycle exam called Baccalaureat were given a bad surprise when it was revealed that an initial list of results in the Lycee National El Hadji Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana of Ouagadougou was erroneous due to a software error and had to be rescinded. Police had to use tear gas to calm things down
  • OLX Nigeria, the new impersonation of the former DealFish site, is now up while operations for DealFish are winding down.
  • Huawei technologies a, Chinese global information and communication technology (ICT) company has launched a competition that will enable university students develop android soft ware applications which will in turn help address the country’s needs. ”Such initiatives are meant to promote local talent among Ugandan students and they are also a way of fostering development of Uganda’s ICT system”, said Mr. Yang Yang, the Huawei Uganda chief executive officer during the launch of the Huawei Android Application Challenge (HAAC) in Kampala recently.
  • More than 80 per cent of Kenyan websites can be easily hacked since they operate on software whose security codes are available online for free, says an industry cyber report.The report by Serianu — an IT security consulting firm — found that more than 80 per cent of local website are either built on open source software such as  Joomla, Apache and MySQL and their security settings not customised.
  • Botswana and Namibia finally launched their links to the 14,000-kilometre underground sea cable system. The sea cable is expected to provide speeds of up to 5.12 terabits per second. The US$750 million fiber optic submarine West African Cable System (WACS), which will provide faster Internet connections, went live in Namibia last, and stretches down the west coast of Africa.
  • Police officers in Kenya have been warned by a top official not to spend too much time on the social networking website Facebook while on duty. Police officers in the country have been using Twitter and Facebook to engage with their neighbouring communities. They have also reportedly used the online services to mobilise support against criminal gangs. But the district commissioner of Murang’a South, Muktar Ali, has complained that some officers, who have smartphones, are using Facebook excessively while on duty, resulting in them being distracted from doing their jobs.
  • A number of African presidents have also set up a virtual home on Twitter, and while some might not be as active as others, they still share their thoughts and feelings with those who follow them.Here are 5 African presidents to follow on Twitter.
  • Cote d’Ivoire: 675223 students registered for school on the web, of which 575178 were for public schools. Celpaid, which was one of the mobile companies supporting the effort,  estimated that $7,6 M were collected in school fees. The country recently announced a plan to lay down 6000 Km of fiber optic cable which will be the backbone for a government intranet linking all major agencies.
  • Enterprise software maker SAP has announced plans to launch its widely successful SAP Skills for Africa Program in Kenya to spur the country’s IT skills capacity and further enhance technological innovation.
  • TruSpot has developed several strategic partnerships record labels and artistes in Africa. TruSpot has the largest African music database online. The company has also leveraged on the widespread use of the Blackberry smartphone to develop its own Blackberry app, to provide streaming music to its users via the Blackberry device. TruSpot presently boasts of over 8 million unique visitors and about 80,000 registered users as at December 2011.
  • A guest post on Techloy by Aliyu Daku, founder of AfricaMars, an African TV content platform, on how The Web And Other Platforms Are Disrupting The Nollywood Industry.
  • Entrepreneurs from Senegal, Ghana & Cote d’Ivoire receive top honors at GIST startup boot camp West Africa: On July 10-11 was held in Dakar, Senegal, the GIST Startup Bootcamp West Africa, a two-day event with international investors, mentoring and a pitching competition organized by the incubator CTIC Dakar along with the GIST Initiative (US dept. of State). This major conference which gathered more than 130 tech entrepreneurs from all over West Africa also saw the launch of the 1st investors’ club in Senegal dedicated to tech startups.
  • JumpStart is a community driven initiative for mobile and Internet technology entrepreneurs, tech professionals, investors and other individuals and organisations involved in the information technology industry in Zimbabwe. ”This year’s BarCamp will be held on August 24 while the Jumpstart Challenge will take place on the 25th. Both events will be held at the original venue of the Keg (Harare Sports Club). The BarCamp event is free to the tech community while a nominal fee for the Jumpstart Challenge is under review.
  • It has been one year that Mrs. Omobola Johnson took the mantle of leadership at ministry of communications technology in Nigeria. Emma Okonji and Amaka Eze examine how far she has gone in achieving her mandate.
  • Canada’s Edgewater Wireless has announced a USD4.9 million deal that will expand its market for its WiFi3 technology into West and Central Africa. The agreement, with World Affinity Telecom, is for the supply of next-generation WiFi3 technology as part of phase 1 of a multi-phase program designed to deliver WiFi3 and WLAN coverage throughout several Western and Central African countries.  The first phase of the deployment program is to begin in the third quarter of this year in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
  • It’s elegant, it’s hip and it’s one of the hottest phones on the African market. Nothing says “I am important” like a man or woman whipping out a BlackBerry smartphone. It’s easily recognizable with its wide screen and trademark keypad. According to Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, editor at Ghananewslink.com, “What is your BB pin?” has become the ultimate sizing-up request. To be asked the question, he says, you have to be considered cool enough to own one. Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that owns BlackBerry, has managed to carve itself a niche in Africa. In 2010, with the help of Brightstar, a global services company that works with key players in the wireless industry, it started distributing its gadgets throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Today South Africa boasts over 2.5 million active devices, according to World Wide Worx, a South African technology research firm. Nigeria has 2 million active devices.
  • Cheki is “basically an online company where we do buying and selling of cars. So as consumers, you can go on line and look for cars that you want without having a middleman. You can check the cars, research on the cars you need and it can be sold to you”.

Don’t forget to check out this week’s edition of the African Tech Weekly podcast!