Yesterday was a day of many wins for local developers who have been keen on getting a foot into the mobile operator ecosystem, to monetize their innovations or services. So what is it that happened?
Safaricom has kinda pulled a fast one on the competition yet again by partnering with Strathmore University and Vodafone to setup the Safaricom Academy that will offer an Internationally recognized Master of Science in Telecommunication Innovation and Development (MSc. TID) Degree. This positions Safaricom very well to tap into the growing talent and idea pool from an increasingly innovative tech sector.
The academy will provide students with a link to the iLabAfrica from where they can get assistance with access to seed capital, mentorship programs, physical space and a variety of tools necessary for the development, testing and deployment of mobile services.
But for the thousands of other creatives and developers who may not take the program, it is exciting to know that the Safaricom Innovation Board has now been constituted. You will remember sometime last year when Safaricom made a call to the tech community to nominate representatives to the board after feedback was received that the mobile operator was not keen on developing local talent or simply sapped ideas without recourse to the “idea generator”.
This board is as a result of that feedback, with the community actively participating in the selection by way of recommendation. The board’s current constitution is made up of faces and names that my be familiar to you – Al Kags – writer/poet , Erik Hersman of Ushahidi and iHub, Fred Waithaka of Safaricom, Joseph Sevilla of Strathmore, Rehema Parmena an IP Lawyer with RP Law) ,Paul Mugambi of Safaricom and myself. Both Bob Collymore (CEO) and Betty Mwangi-Thuo ( Chief Officer of New Products & Services division) are ex-officio members.
The road to this point has been challenging but much greater is the challenge that now lies with the newly constituted board. As we start off, we must appreciate that Safaricom listened and moved on the feedback received from the tech community. Most important though is to affirm our commitment to create a transparent platform through which the tech community can interact with Safaricom more so as concerns the creation of symbiotic services that will leverage and augment the available platforms.
In the words of Safaricom CEO Bob Collmore
In no limiting terms, the board will play a liaison role of interacting with the innovators and guiding them on how to actualize their ideas. It will guide application developers on how to refine their applications and how to commercialize them. The board will also identify those who require further learning or exposure to increase their skills by exposing them to the Safaricom Incubation Center
It’s been a while coming…it’s here now so lets work it! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and creating the framework and processes that will see many local developers take their services and products mainstream, creating solid revenue streams and opening the floodgates of innovation.
Don’t miss the bus…