No excuses now: cabinet reshuffle gives OS upgrade to ICT Ministry

There has been a lot of movement and agitation in the Silicon Savannah over the past few weeks around how opportunities are captured and value realized in ecosystem that is now really coming to terms with the pains of maturity. A tectonic shift was felt this past Tuesday as His Excellency the President announced a cabinet reshuffle that brought with it some hope and optimism to many invested in technology enabled service businesses.

While a reshuffle is not a panacea for myriad of problems both real and imagined that affect the technology driven sector, here is why the Joe Mucheru – Cabinet Secretary ICT and Victor Kyalo – Principal Secretary ICT tag team makes sense right now.

Joe has quite the experience on four fronts; starting, growing and exiting an indigenous technology business – Wananchi, agitating for industry rights under TESPOK in the early days, a more comprehensive world view from his Google employ and as an active investor with a local tech portfolio.

Victor cut his teeth during a time of rapid growth and expectation of ITES at the helm of the ICT Authority and as Deputy CEO/Programmes Manager at the then Kenya ICT Board. Combined with many years in the public sector and also a founding member of key initiatives stands him in good stead. Across many conversations with him, it became apparent that hockey stick progress was stifled at the ministry under which the board fell.

Joe will bring in fresh proactive thinking and action, and I am confident that he can fill and outgrow the shoes of one Bitange Ndemo who even as a Permanent Secretary was the most visible true catalyst and champion for ITES in Kenya. Victor knows how to navigate the public sector and has done the dance on both policy and lobbying. If in sync, then this is the yin and yang that will “transform Kenya into a regional ICT hub and a globally competitive digital economy”

My RRI (rapid results initiative) expectations from the duo are simple. The first is to ensure that Enterprise Kenya, whose go live we all highly anticipate will not be deviated from its original design as crafted by a consortium of invested publics over many sleepless nights. The second is to ensure policy clarity and adherence on matters citizen contracting in respect to government business. The third is to protect and amplify the use of locally domiciled intellectual property whose value we continue to bleed out through ill-conceived public private partnerships.

We just got an operating system upgrade and the expectation is that of an immediate and marked performance improvement.

Six factors calling for a journalism reboot

Migration from analogue terrestrial transmission to digital formats has seen a stirring of the waters in the traditional media landscape. The numbers are in and there has been quite the attrition on two fronts; first the regulator driven switch has forced media houses to rethink their rate cards with a rebased reach and second the revenue decline has seen the culling of executives in a normalization drive to ensure longer term sustainability, as many of the incumbents figure it out. Continue reading Six factors calling for a journalism reboot

Connecting capital to opportunities

A quick glance at the more prominent global investment communities, a filter for Africa based startups will reveal a not so surprising startup founder metric that has been the source of conversation among technology entrepreneurs. Broadly put, the ventures that have closed on decent rounds of funding with primary markets in Africa are almost all exclusively founded and led by expatriates often with a Delaware registration to boot. The online conversations have been primarily about race capital; whether it actually exists and generic formulas for “correcting” the current state of affairs. Continue reading Connecting capital to opportunities

The maker movement

A recent visit to my high school alma mater found me among well-worn classrooms, adjacent to workshops that I have fond memories of. You see, I was inadvertently forced by circumstances to take on a rather unpopular subject, that of metalwork and remember other students in a different set, who frowned on having been allocated electricity, in an environment that embraced the “sciences” and doing triple sciences – Biology, Chemistry and Physics topped up with commerce studies was the perfect blend.

I remember the hum of the machines, measuring, cutting, bending, drilling and slowly seeing what was once only an idea fashioned into a product. The machining tools were aged and the drawings mainly off the drafting board with calipers, protractors, rulers and various grades of the HB pencil at hand, with the experience the software aided part by way of AutoCad well after my final year exams. Continue reading The maker movement

Identifying your mobile messaging partner

Choosing a mobile messaging partner can make or break your business pipeline as mobile interactions are inextricably linked to lead generation, demand activation and customer service. As a business owner or manager, you should always seek out partnerships that both meet and exceed your business goals. Failure to do due diligence could easily result in irreparable brand damage, loss of revenue and in some cases legal battles. Continue reading Identifying your mobile messaging partner