Recent Posts

  • Steal this idea: A network of couriers to ease Ghana/Nigeria traffic

    Posted April 9, 2014 By in General With | 1 Comment

    On a recent trip to Ghana, I spent a good amount of time traversing Accra, and consequently getting stuck in traffic. Ghana is not unlike many other African and foreign cities. It boasts a growing urban population, engaged middle class, and business growth. Add to that poor urban planning and you get horrendous daily traffic. At this point Ghanaians have accepted that traffic delays are a way of life and have adjusted accordingly. Commuters try to alleviate travel headaches by getting multiple cars per household – one for each member of the family to travel independently. Having a driver also allows you to multi-task and rest while stuck in traffic. Enterprising Ghanaians are taking advantage of the congestion and the captive audience. Hawkers are a treat for any Accra tourist. You can buy everything from solar light bulbs, to children’s toys, and puppies – Yes, live puppies – in Accra traffic. Ghanaian businessman Albert Osei, founder of Koko King, launched his popular mobile breakfast business throughout Accra, mostly supported by his street carts serving Ghanaian commuters sitting in traffic.

  • Flying drones or more roads? What will connect more Africans?

    Posted March 17, 2014 By in General With | Comments Off on Flying drones or more roads? What will connect more Africans?

    There’s an ongoing debate going on right now spawned by recent news that Facebook’s bid to buy a drone manufacturer has implications for the company’s goal of “connecting Africa”. Whether Facebook actually intends to pursue that goal or it’s just a ploy to keep the company’s investors happy, the idea that Africa’s future could be filled with the buzzing of drones has sparked a heated debate.

    2 sides to the debate
    On one side are those who champion the idea. On the other hand detractors criticize the initiative as a dumb, libertarian fantasy I agree that the Facebook’s drones, Google’s balloons, or Microsoft’s tv white spaces won’t be the magic bullet that solves Africa’s problem. I’m not as skeptical as Bill Gates though, that any of these ideas are off base. Facebook, Google etc. might have their own motivations for pursuing these initiatives, but that does’t necessarily make it a pie in the sky idea. I’m not sure about Facebook, but Google has made a business of executing on pie in the sky ideas. Remember what we said about self-driving cars? The company has shown us that it has the chops to prototype, test, release a solution and then work with government to make their solution a widespread option.

  • IBM Chief Research Scientist on Tech as enabler for Africanized solutions

    Posted March 5, 2014 By in General With | Comments Off on IBM Chief Research Scientist on Tech as enabler for Africanized solutions

    Last year I met IBM research scientist Uyi Stewart at a Africa business and innovation conference at the NYU. After hearing him talk on a panel and a few short conversations I could tell that he was a man on a mission. At the time we connected Uyi was finalizing plans to leave his position in the USA for a role in Kenya as the Chief Scientist at IBM Research Lab – Africa. Since launching in November of 2013, the research lab has hit the ground running with a few powerful projects, most notably a project to reduce Kenyan traffic congestion using mobile phone data.

    CNN’s African Voices program recently sat with Mr. Stewart to talk about his return to Africa, technology as an enabler, and the part he and IBM are playing in African innovation. Watch below.

  • Business success in Africa is all about relationships

    Posted July 10, 2013 By in Business With | Comments Off on Business success in Africa is all about relationships

    Carlo Regueiras, Africa Sales Manager at Altech ISIS explains:

    Despite the fact that doing business in Africa has changed significantly over the past few years with the continent’s business environment maturing, there are still many continent- and country-specific adaptations that are required for a company to be successful. The only way to achieve an effective business presence in an African country is through local knowledge.”While many companies profess to have this local knowledge, few have an established network of local partners that allows them to overcome the challenges that even home-grown businesses have to overcome in these emerging markets, and even fewer have presence in multiple African countries.

    Read more in Africa is all about relationships)

  • Kenya’s Billion-Dollar Dash to Become the Tech Hub of Africa

    Posted April 22, 2013 By in Business, Technology With | Comments Off on Kenya’s Billion-Dollar Dash to Become the Tech Hub of Africa

    Bloomberg reports:

    Nairobi, Kenya has become the tech hub of Africa, a niche that could be worth more than one billion dollars to the country in the next three years despite its 40% unemployment rate. Kenya is throwing all their eggs in the tech basket as they build a multi-billion dollar infrastructure in the form of a “Techno City” that will support 200,000

  • Using Twitter for Nigeria election reform

    Posted April 12, 2011 By in Events, Politics, Technology With | Comments Off on Using Twitter for Nigeria election reform

    At the center of grass roots efforts to keep Nigeria’s notorious election process clean is a small, indistinguishable man armed with a cell phone…Amara, wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “Light Up Nigeria” and with his mobile phone always close by, is perhaps Nigeria’s best-known Twitter activist….But as Amara tours polling stations across Lagos, he is leaving nothing to chance. He uses the internet as a platform to encourage as many people to get involved in the voting process as possible….Nigeria has 43 million Internet users — the largest in Africa — and they are increasingly using Twitter, Facebook and blogs, such as Nigeria’s, to access information and make their views heard.


  • Trailer: When China met Africa (documentary)

    Posted April 6, 2011 By in Business, Film/Television, General, Politics, Travel With | Comments Off on Trailer: When China met Africa (documentary)

    When China met Africa‘, a new documentary film produced by Marc Francis & Nick Francis and Miriana Bojic Walter, tells the story of China’s entrance into Zambia and the cultural and business relationships surrounding:

    A historic gathering of over 50 African heads of state in Beijing reverberates in Zambia where the lives of three characters unfold. Mr Liu is one of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled across the continent in search of new opportunities. He has just bought his fourth farm and business is booming.

    In northern Zambia, Mr Li, a project manager for a multinational Chinese company is upgrading Zambia’s longest road. Pressure to complete the road on time intensifies when funds from the Zambian government start running out.

    Meanwhile Zambia’s Trade Minister is on route to China to secure millions of dollars of investment.

    Through the intimate portrayal of these characters, the expanding footprint of a rising global power is laid bare – pointing to a radically different future, not just for Africa, but also for the world.

    Watch the trailer below:

  • Western Union partners with M-Pesa for international mobile money transfers

    Posted March 31, 2011 By in Business, General, Technology, Travel With | Comments Off on Western Union partners with M-Pesa for international mobile money transfers

    Western Union has announced a partnership with M-PESA, the popular Kenyan mobile cash-transfer service. This deal opens up Western Union’s huge money transfer network to the Safaricon-owned “mobile wallet” service. The parnership will allow customers in US, UK and other countries to transfer money to a Safaricom/M-Pesa user’s account and the receiver will receive an SMS message from M-PESA notifying them that the money is available in their account.

    Kenyans living abroad can now send money to their relatives back home through Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa.
    This is after Safaricom and Western Union signed an agreement, which enables Kenyans living in 45 countries in the US, Asia, Europe and Africa to access the now world famous M-Pesa service.
    Although they can send up to Sh35,000 per transaction, limits per day, per month or per year will depend on the country the money is sent from, following the link-up that is likely to give the NSE listed firm a head start in the increasingly competitive mobile telephony market.
    “Through this partnership, our customers and their friends and families will benefit from affordable, faster and more convenient international remittances,” said Safaricom chief executive officer, Bob Collymore.
    Mr David Yates, of Western Union, applauded the service as an impressive adoption of the mobile channel.
    “Cash payout through M-Pesa is projected to go up from 23 per cent to 40 per cent, as the traditional cash payout will take the rest,” Mr Yates said.
    The transaction is similar to a traditional cash-to-cash money transfer, except that the sender specifies the recipient’s mobile phone number at the time the funds are sent.
  • IT giant Infosys seeks African market expansion

    Posted March 30, 2011 By in Business, Technology With | Comments Off on IT giant Infosys seeks African market expansion

    Indian IT company Infosys Technologies is continuing its entrance into the African continent. It said in a statement Friday morning that it believes Africa is a market for long-term IT services and hopes it will be able to implement an investment strategy.

    In an interview with the Times of India, Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan said that Africa has great potential and populations are demanding an improvement in IT services.

    Nigeria’s regulatory body this week echoed similar statements when it said that mobile phone services in the country are sorely lacking adequate customer service and infrastructure. Infosys could capitalize on this exact issue, said Ahmed Gabr, an IT specialist based in Nairobi.


  • New wave of Western investment flows to African film

    Posted February 16, 2011 By in General With | 2 Comments
    In recent years, though, there have been signs that a shift is under way. A wave of Western investment in African cinema has focused on sustainability and long-term growth. Rather than using Africa as a picturesque backdrop for big-budget studio productions, filmmakers from outside the continent and various fests are looking to cultivate a new generation of African talent….There’s been a shift on the festival circuit as well, helped by the emergence of small, dynamic African film festivals in the West, and a new generation of festival programmers looking to spotlight fresh African talent….The next step is to challenge the mainstream perception of Africa “as not really a dynamic place” for filmmaking in a way that translates into greater distribution, says Joslyn Barnes, who along with Danny Glover co-founded Louverture Films to help promote and cultivate filmmaking in the developing world.


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