It is always fun to sit and watch industries morph as technology becomes cheaper or regulation changes lowering the barriers to entry. The latest dance to pique my interest has been that of mobile juggernaut Safaricom and their banking sector peer Equity bank. Regulatory changes have not been kind to Safaricom in many respects; their first line competition has been busy pushing for the opening up of their agency network, which pundits have often cited as their biggest strength and now new players by way of recently licensed mobile virtual network operators are angling for a piece of the current telecoms pie. Continue Reading…

Apple has made known its planned assault on global payment juggernauts, with first in line being PayPal, a player active in 203 markets, in 26 countries and 152 million registered users. Some pundits have argued that Apple has all the makings of a true disruptor. With over $ 160 billion in cash reserves and liquid instruments and over 500 million devices out in the wild, this might be true, but the real opportunity still lies in emerging markets where economies are mulling over the move to cash lite ecosystems. This is where the Apple story and that of many other Silicon Valley based payment companies gets a damper, an almost zero presence in the markets where mobile money with its peer to peer origins has shown great potential. Continue Reading…

Every day we produce tonnes of unstructured data in increasing velocity and variety. This data is only as valuable as the applied insights derived from it, otherwise its collection and analysis becomes a waste of resources. At a recent BarCamp – “an open and participatory user-generated conference primarily focused around technology and the web” held in Nairobi at the epicenter of Kenya’s startup scene and dubbed “Who is your data’s daddy”, the issue of privacy came to the fore as a group of hacker’s demonstrated the ease with which systems and people are compromised. This led to an interesting debate on the place and dynamics of privacy in a digital world, amplified by the Kenyan governments push to digitize everything. The question remains, is there a way to use personal data without making the citizen feel exposed? Continue Reading…

With 7 billion people in the world today, mull over the notion of nationality and the attendant identity that literally gives you the power to interact with the rest of humanity. Now imagine that very key to your existence has been outsourced to a third party with the powers to extract lifetime value by leveraging your data for profit. This is all justifiable until it is mentioned that the third party is not local and that births a whole slew of issues that should frankly have the attention of everyone in government and private sector.

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Technology is best experienced when invisible but with benefits that we can quantify in the real world. Beyond the creation of systems that are made and deployed to make our day to day transactional lives better through automation and removal of middlemen and other such bottlenecks, we need to start looking beyond the quality of service – QoS to the Quality of Life – QoL.  Continue Reading…

Who will own the classifieds space in East Africa was the title of a piece penned back in 2011 when there was a flurry of activity with everyone claiming to be the number one destination. The way things change, the way they remain the same and with blatant replication of business models with no drive for service differentiation, a number of players have hit the dead pool but this has not stopped others – whether from a skin change or as entirely new entities, from attempting to draw blood  cash from what is proving to be a most difficult segment to crack. Continue Reading…

The market says that there is a skills gap as we slowly try to transition to a knowledge first economy that places a premium on technical skills to serve the data driven marketplace. There is no one currently with their finger on the pulse on the exact need since no hard data has been collected on the same.

The government on the other side of the spectrum has committed Ksh. 2.5 billion towards the construction of at least sixty technical institutes and has been running the flagship Uwezo Fund targeted at youth, women and persons with disability capitalized at Ksh. 6 billion and about 5.35 billion approved for disbursement for the current financial year.

Lots of activity can be observed but on closer analysis, feels more knee jerk than calculated, which requires a take two if to ensure we are not lost on the visions of utopia that we forget to scratch the actual itch and end up disenfranchised. Continue Reading…

Masterplans have been the order of the day with literally all key ministries articulating their road to utopia where the citizen is served efficiently and cost-effectively, corruption is neutered and a host of other benefits that read well in an election manifesto. Excellent documents in themselves, these masterplans lack the granularity that should guide the day to day in terms of the resources, infrastructure and frameworks needed at ground zero where the true implementation and adoption begins.The magnitude of what is lost in the big picture view might only come to the fore in another two years just as the election bug bites us again and we start to compare what really is and what should have been. Continue Reading…

In July 2014, the government put out an advert calling for volunteers to what has been positioned as an exciting one year programme for those aged between twenty two and thirty years, with an additional requirement that one be a recent university graduate. The exact nature, structure and opportunity was not clearly articulated which led to a conversation with some industry peers on the possible permutations that the project may take. I was of the personal opinion that the angle taken may not be the best from sustainability and immediate needs perspective to which I was challenged to give a better solution; whose concept I share today for your digest.

I have argued in the past that government is well placed to drive up the uptake of technology if only deployed to scratch its itch; deliver survives to the citizen and meet other objectives such as job creation. Continue Reading…

It is said that software is eating the world and the data is available to back it with all sorts of acronyms such as SaaS and PaaS coming to the fore and defining the global shift to the proverbial cloud. This migration has also birthed new companies that are looking to deliver business efficiencies riding off these emergent technologies. However, the move from legacy systems by older enterprises and the adoption of new technology by freshly minted businesses faces one major stumbling block; that of business continuity. Admittedly any business will move cautiously to take up business critical services offered by a growing number of startups more strongly so on commissioned projects. Tales have been told of developers who go missing or startups that burn out and go belly up leaving clients distraught and back to zero nursing losses in time, capital and even market share – where the technology was to deliver one form or other of competitive advantage.

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