19 November, 2011

Nokia's Alexander Oswald -TEDx 2011 Talk on Kenya's Mobile Solutions

The Kenyan Mobile Payment platform M-Pesa  and its derivative mobile payment solutions are educating the Worlds leading technology enthusiasts and service providers on just what the future and payment systems should be.This is according to  Tech Guru and Marketer Alexander Oswald in a speech entitled "Why Kenyans Do It Better " given at TED x Vienna held in Austria on 22 October, 2011.

I have taken the liberty to embed the video in this post ,it highlights how our common everyday transactions and solutions derived from and made possible through the mobile payment solution MPESA are shaping the future of technology both in so called "developed"  and "developing" countries.Enjoy!

16 November, 2011

Fourth African Media Leaders Forum Tunis Declaration 2011

Here is a reprint of the a declaration of intents made by African Media Leaders forum held in Tunis hereinafter dubbed the" Fourth African Media Leaders Forum Tunis Declaration 2011"

 We, the owners of African media organizations met at the Fourth African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) in Tunis, Tunisia, during November 10-11, 2011, to discuss the state of Africa’s media sector, and work collaboratively to strengthen and develop Africa’s media industries for economic, political, social, and cultural change.
With nearly 350 participants from 48 African countries, the Tunis meeting was a landmark and the largest and only gathering of media owners and operators representing the African continent. Since launching the AMLF in Dakar, Senegal, in 2008, both the AMLF – and its parent body, the African Media Initiative (AMI) – have grown in scope, stature, and expanse of operations, united by the common purpose of creating ethical, sustainable, diverse and pluralistic African media.

Aware that the African continent is at the cusp of a promising economic transformation, and as demonstrated by the Arab Spring that was born in Tunis, media have a profound role to play in social transformation, giving voice to people, and promoting freedom. Taken together, these developments hold out the promise of greater participation by citizens and increased pluralism.

Cognizant of the need for us to work together to strengthen the media sector as a partner in development and viable platform for investment, we therefore commit ourselves to becoming a more integral part of Africa’s development success story by expanding coverage of development topics, placing people at the center of our reporting, and focusing our effort toward changing Africa’s stereotypical narrative of death, disease, disaster and despair into one of hope, innovation, insights and interests, as well as opportunity. As media leaders, our commitment is to the overarching goal of improving access to good information and positive development of the continent.
Responded to these challenges by focusing our discussions in Tunis on key issues impacting Africa’s media sector, namely:
•Role and Relevance of Traditional Media. African media leaders see the rise of social media as an opportunity for traditional media to enable citizens to bring about social change. The media sector in Africa needs to continue its focus on improving the quality of content and timeliness of reporting by harnessing the strengths of new media technologies.
Challenge of Building a Coalition for Media Development in Africa. We recognize our role as purveyors of news, ideas, and innovation, and believe that the cause of the public good is better served by telling the untold success stories of development in Africa. The role of media in nurturing debate is central to the process of sustainable development itself and for improving the lives of ordinary Africans.
Strengthening Role of Media in Consolidating Democracy and Good Governance in Africa. We believe the media sector can play a hugely supportive role in the expansion of democracy through an informed citizenry, and support processes of good governance through exercising the traditional watchdog function. Deficits in democracy and governance are inimical to the growth of Africa’s media sector.

• Expanding Financing Sources for Africa’s Media Sector. Africa’s media sector has been hampered by lack of capital, and adequate financing is critical for advancement. We need to deepen discussions with a broad range of stakeholders – development partners who want to see development returns, financial institutions such as banks and venture capitalists, and mobile operators who want to see financial returns – so that the media sector can begin to attract newer sources and develop innovative models of financing that are critical for it success.
Our meeting in Tunis was successful on several fronts. Following on earlier workshops held in Cameroon, we looked at revenue and business models for media, discussed digital transitions including advertising and strategies for the near to mid-term future, debated improvements in newsroom management, convergence, streamlining, and other issues relating to media development. These discussions helped us to define the next steps for strengthening Africa’s media sector, improving the professional skills of journalists through enhanced training opportunities, and the need for AMI and AMLF to work collaboratively with governments and civil society for expanding access to information. We therefore:

Commend the progress that AMI and AMLF have made in the past four years, and thank the AMI Board for the leadership and guidance it has provided for strengthening Africa’s media sector;
Appreciate the AMI’s pioneering effort to develop the “Leadership and Guiding Principles for African Media Owners and Managers,” and see this as a central pillar of the overall push toward improving the viability and sustainability of Africa’s media industries;
Endorse the creation of national associations of media owners and operators in all African countries so that there is greater engagement and interaction at the national, regional and continental levels. The establishment of AMI’s Office in Kenya is a welcome development, and we look forward to finalization of the AMI’s host country agreement with the Government of Kenya;
Welcome the support received from the African Development Bank and look forward to greater engagement with other multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, the African Capacity Building Foundation, international donors and civil society. We acknowledge and thank the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for its support to AMI, and thank all our donors and partners for their continuing collaboration and assistance. We urge that a technical meeting to discuss innovative financing be held before the 2012 Forum.
Entrust the AMI Secretariat to review the various offers received for hosting AMLF 2012 and inform the membership accordingly.

Issued on November 11, 2011, after the Tunis Forum.

15 November, 2011

Table Mountain is a New 7th Wonder of Nature

November 2011

Table Mountain is a New7Wonder of Nature, following the official announcement on Friday, November 11, 2011.

We are very, very excited about this win! From being awarded the World Design Capital 2014 designation just a few weeks ago to Table Mountain being named one of the New7Wonders of Nature today, Cape Town and South Africa are standing proud! – Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte Du Toit-Helmbold "

Having initially been chosen as one of 440 candidates in 2009, Table Mountain attracted millions of votes from around the world before voting closed on Friday.

The New7Wonders of Nature are the Amazon, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo, the Puerto Princesa Underground River and Table Mountain.

In Cape Town, a crowd gathered at the V&A Waterfront amphitheatre for the official announcement on Friday night. There were huge celebrations when Sabine Lehmann, CEO of the Table Mountain Cableway, read out the results in alphabetical order.

Table Mountain’s campaign was promoted by various celebrities, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Hollywood actor Blair Underwood and the Springbok rugby team.

A survey by respected accounting firm, Grant Thornton, forecasts a R1.4-billion annual boost to the South African economy, as well as the creation of 11 000 jobs in the next 5 years.

Table Mountain, which at about 360-million years old is 1 of the world’s oldest mountains, is an iconic landmark for many reasons. Of all the final 28 contenders for the New7Wonders of Nature, it was the most accessible, just 20 minutes' drive from Cape Town International Airport.

The Table Mountain Cableway, established in 1929, has taken more than 21-million visitors to the top of the mountain, where there are fantastic views of the Cape Town coastline, city centre and suburbs. Hikers can take the Platteklip Gorge route up Table Mountain, and be at the top within an hour.

Table Mountain is home to a wide range or fauna and flora, boasting more species of plants than the entire United Kingdom. Table Mountain forms part of the Cape Floral Region, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Said Lehmann: 'I would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for Table Mountain and the celebrity ambassadors - from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Springbok Rugby team to all the journalists, musicians, comedians, actors, politicians and sports stars who campaigned on our behalf.'

Table Mountain’s New7Wonders of Nature status follows Cape Town’s recent confirmation as the 2104 World Design Capital.

Said Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte Du Toit-Helmbold after the announcement: 'We are very, very excited about this win! From being awarded the World Design Capital 2014 designation just a few weeks ago to Table Mountain being named one of the New7Wonders of Nature today, Cape Town and South Africa are standing proud!'
For further reference and resources:
Fun Facts about Table Mountain:
Sourced from http://www.tablemountain.net and http://www.capeinfo.com/
Table Mountain is the only terrestrial geographical feature to have a constellation named after it. Visiting the Cape of Good Hope in the mid-18th century, French astronomer Abbé Nicolas Louis de la Caille named a constellation near the Southern Cross Mons Mensa, Latin for Table Mountain.
It is one of the oldest mountains in the world, estimated to be about 260 million years old. It dates back further than the Andes, the Rockies and the Swiss Alps.

One of the first women to record her experience of the mountain was Lady Anne Barnard, who climbed Platteklip Gorge in her husband’s trousers. Barnard’s husband was Andrew, the Colonial Secretary during the first British occupation of the Cape between 1795 and 1803.

The first recorded climb was in May 1503, when Portuguese navigator Admiral Antonio de Saldanha climbed Platteklip Gorge and referred to the mountain as Taboa do Cabo (Table of the Cape).

In 1894, rock climber George Travers-Jackson was accepted into the Mountain Club of South Africa at the age of 14. He took part in 51 first ascents on Table Mountain, one of which was of G-grading, climbed without safety equipment.

The cableway has been in operation since 1929. The first cable car had a tin roof and wooden sides and carried 20 passengers. The cable cars were imported from Switzerland and there are only two other such cable cars in the world, one in Titlis in the Swiss Alps in Switzerland, and one in Palm Springs in America. It has a 100 percent safety record.

The Table Mountain ghost frog (Heleophryne rosei) is a critically endangered species endemic to the eastern and southern slopes.
Table Mountain’s cloudy “tablecloth” is the stuff of legends: one tells of the San Mantis god smothering a blaze with a huge white karos (animal pelt). Another says the cloud comes from a smoking contest between the Devil and a pirate called Van Hunks.

08 November, 2011

Shelter Afrique admits Ghana as 43rd member

…..the US$10 million subscription fee makes Ghana the largest sovereign shareholder
Nairobi, November 8, 2011: Ghana has joined Shelter Afrique as its 43rd member country; following a cash payment of USD 10 million for shares as a Class “A” Shareholder in the Company.

This achievement is in line with the objective of the institution to ensure participation by all African countries in Shelter Afrique.  Shelter Afrique will now work closely with the Government of Ghana and the private sector to improve the provision of mortgage finance to public and private developers with particular emphasis on the housing needs of the middle class.

Speaking about the decision to join Shelter Afrique, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, Hon. Minister Finance and Economic Planning of Ghana said:  “Ghana is committed to improving the supply of affordable houses for its population. The membership in Shelter Afrique is just one of the steps to the global government policy for a better supply of affordable houses.”

Ghana is estimated to have a deficit in excess of 1.5 million houses.

Shelter Afrique Managing Director Alassane BA,  expressed his satisfaction at the conclusion of this process noting that Ghana is joining Shelter Afrique at a most exciting time when the priorities of Africa are focused towards the housing needs of the growing population of the region.

He reiterated the institution’s commitment to work closely with all stakeholders to proactively implement the agenda to provide decent housing especially for the middle class.

“Shelter Afrique is working to strengthen strategic relationships with key players in the mortgage industry in order to improve the financing of the sector and continues to seek out exciting emerging   partnerships and new member countries,” said BA.

Shelter Afrique is a Pan African financial institution dedicated to financing housing and related infrastructure in Africa.  The organization was set up in 1982 with its Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya   where it enjoys full diplomatic immunities and privileges for international organizations. Its membership is comprised by 43 African Countries, the African Development Bank and Africa-Re. Information regarding accessing Shelter Afrique facilities is available at: www.shelterafrique.org

07 November, 2011

Nokia C2-03 Fashionable Dual Sim Phone

For a fashionable,trendy and affordable Dual Sim mobile phone -The Nokia C2-03  does it! I had the opportunity to recently review the phone and liked its visual appeal most but my wife beat me to it.It suited her best and its definitely a ladies appeal phone!

The Nokia C2-03  is a Dual Sim Touch and Type phone that has all the basic facilities for a functionalities including a: 2.6 inch QVGA resistive touchscreen display, GSM / GPRS / EDGE connectivity, Nokia Maps , Nokia Browser, 3.5mm headset jack, stereo FM radio, 2MP camera, and MicroSD card support up to a whooping 32 GB , yet phone remains irresistibly affordable.

The phone will retail locally at between Kshs 8,000-10,000/=

Being a heavy user , i pretty much liked its visual appeal and the fact that you can tuch and type as you go, but i cannot comment much on its browsing experience as  i personally require much computing power and fast response when it comes to any phone, however if you are looking for a phone that is basic and trendy, the C2-03 may just be it at the moment.

For a detailed overview of the phone, its features and specifications, please visit: NOKIA

04 November, 2011

Kenya's War on Al Shabab Goes Social !

The Kenyan military is updating its citizenry and enemy combatants alike using social media outlets such as Twitter. The Kenya Army spokesperson Major Emmanuel Chirchir has set up a Twitter account at Twitter Handle @MajorEChirchir whose timeline has featured tweets requesting Kenyans Dealing in Donkey trade along the Kenya Somalia border not to sale their animals to Al Shabaab.The  Kenyan Military is using the hashtag #operationlindanchi to update its twitter followers.

 His recent post provides a link to video clip featiuring Kenyan Navy sinking an Al Shabab boat near the town of Kismayu on the Indian Ocean. This kind of update is a first in the Country and indicates that the military is not lost behind in the social media trend.

Heres a screen shot of the Army Spokesman Twitter page:

Major EChirchirTwitter Page Screenshot

02 November, 2011

Shimba Technologies Ltd launches MedAfrica App

MedAfrica Mobile App is set to provide about 26 million Kenyans with medical information

Nairobi , Kenya 1st November 2011………Shimba Technologies Ltd in partnership with Nokia has launched MedAfrica – a mobile  app offering a ground-breaking, go-to source of information regarding medical solutions at the touch of a button. The service aims to make healthcare information affordable and accessible to Kenyans.
MedAfrica was born out of the health category of Tuvitu (a mobile content platform by Shimba Technologies). It won the Pivot 25 award - http://pivot25.com/, a regional competition held in April, 2011 in Nairobi. The team got an opportunity to showcase the product at Demo fall, Silicon Valley in July and also emerged as one of the top 10 apps at Demo. 

 “MedAfrica seeks to improve the health of communities and regions in which it operates by increasing access to health care related information and services in Africa. Good health is a universal need that affects the output of communities directly impacting their socioeconomic standing. Shimba Technologies aims to achieve their objective by creating platforms that facilitate dissemination of information and build communities around the different issues and conditions while at the same time converging all stake holders and amplifying their efforts.” said Steve Mutinda, Founder of Shimba Technologies Ltd. The content in the Platform will be provided by the government (Courtesy of Open data), private sector, Academia and the general health practitioners.

Kenya has a population of 40million and 7,000 registered medical practitioners yet it enjoys mobile phone penetration of 26 million. This gives the viability of mobile phones to disseminate the health content in the country. This also applies to other African countries with infrastructural limitations.

Med App Screenshot
“The development demonstrates Nokia’s role in working with local partners to create solutions that are important and relevant to consumers. This app is a truly revolutionary solution to many of consumers who need a one stop access to health services such as symptom checkers, first-aid information, doctor & hospital directories and medical alerts”, said Agatha Gikunda, Head of EDX for Nokia East and Southern Africa

The platform will be accessible via a number of channels – mobile applications (Java, Nokia, and Android), mobile web, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), web and short message service (SMS). The start-up is seeking out partnerships with government institutions, pharmaceutical companies, medical associations, medical support groups, non-governmental organizations, mobile network operators and general populations in order to amplify their contribution to health-care service delivery.

“Our mission is to Increase access to health related content and services to save lives and build a healthy population, our target being to reach every house hold in Africa. In this case we have a road map in place where we launch the product in Kenya then scale it to other African Countries” said Jackline Cheruiyot, MedAfrica Team Leader.

MedAfrica promise ease of access to a full spectrum of health info and content Services from the comfort of one’s mobile phone for the Millions of Africans.

Being a Start-up project, the partnership with Nokia is very critical and as MedAfrica, we appreciate the support. We also appreciate mLab and iHub community for their continued support in different aspects of the product.’ Cheruiyot added.

Shimba Technologies Ltd has spearheaded the development of solutions such as CDFMonitor, KTraffic, RichMobile, and Sarova. For instance CDFMonitor allows constituents to view information on CDF allocation and use in Kenya. KTraffic shows camera views of Kenyan roads and suggestions of alternate roads thus allowing users to avoid traffic jams. 

Shimba Technologies Ltd plans to release an appeal and donations philanthropic platform called Sponsor Kenya that also got shortlisted by the ICT Board’s Tandaa Grant and the second version of the Tuvitu platform come 2012.


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