Cashless technology modernizing Kenya’s matatus

The physical BebaPay cards can be purchased and topped up with credit at various locations across the city. The service doesn’t require a bank account – just a Google account – and the cards and phones work without an internet connection.

“Cashless will lead to greater transparency, accountability, organisation… and ultimately better public transportation infrastructure,” says Denis Gikunda from Google’s Nairobi office.

BebaPay is part of Google’s broader strategy to “simplify payments”, he says, and improve lives of people in emerging markets.

“Transport was a great place to begin, because it captures all the problems – a lot of transactions, frequently, all cash-based.”

Eventually, he says, BebaPay will not just be used for transportation, but for payment services across the city – from taxis, to public toilets and small retail kiosks. Read more

Swahili Teaching Puzzle Game for Kids developed by Strathmore Techies

Not so many people would get a business idea from observing a child run to and fro the kitchen asking the mom inquisitive questions about the difference between orange the color and orange the fruit! Kevin Mukhwana’s idea bulb immediately lit up after he observed this interesting phenomenon during a visit to his cousin who has a young daughter in class one.

“The child kept running to the mom who was cooking and she asked one question after the other until the mom gave the kid her mobile phone to play a game. This was the only trick that kept her from burning the food she was preparing to crisp with the constant interruptions from the knowledge thirsty young princes”,

explained Kevin, one of the founders Tichaa. When Kevin shared this with Allan and Jacqueline, they brainstormed and knew they were onto something.

Allan Mukhwana, Jacqueline Njue & Kevin Mukhwana are one of the participants in the Safaricom App Wiz Challenge currently running at @iBizAfrica, the business incubation center of @iLabAfrica Strathmore University. The six months long competition is at its final stage, the incubation stage where participants are developing products to be launched in market by October 2013.

Kevin remembers receiving a call from Safaricom, informing him about the competition. He was contacted as a past participant in the Safaricom App Star challenge. “As a past participant in the developers’ completion, I felt this was another great opportunity to try my luck at building another super application and win some good money in the process. However, the competition has really changed my outlook towards application development because now they have introduced a business aspect to it”, narrated Kevin, a techie with his own web and software development company called Webstar Kenya. Read more

Mobile will drive Africa’s consumer tech

In the African context, Frank Rizzo, technology sector leader for KPMG in South Africa, believes that mobile is still the top technology to drive business transformation, followed by data analytics and then cloud.

“With our upcoming Africa survey to be released at the end of 2013, we will be able to tell if the rest of Africa is in agreement with my sentiments,” said Rizzo.

KPMG surveyed tech leaders on a number of topics, including which factors are most important to fostering innovation.

More than three-fourths of them said that the availability of talent is the most important factor enabling technology innovation, followed by access to technology infrastructure (69%), ability to drive customer adoption (68%), and access to capital (66%).

But not all countries cited talent as the top factor. Innovation incentives were among the top two most important factors in India (tied for first with infrastructure), Israel (tied for first with talent) and China (second most important).

Yet, when asked how accessible innovation incentives at the respondent’s company are, 82% of those in large enterprise and mid-market companies in India said they were accessible, 64% in Israel, and 60% in China.

Rizzo expects that African executives would most likely rate innovation incentives as the foremost driver for fostering innovation. Read more

Launch planned for made-in-Nigeria phones

wo Nigerian-made mobile phone brands could be launched in the country by next month, according to the country’s ‘Phone and Allied Products Dealers Association’ (PAPDAN).

The president of the association, Godfrey Iyke Nwosu, said the made-in-Nigeria phone brands are expected to be the outcome of a joint venture among 20 Nigerian investors who have pooled resources to bring the devices to market.

The two new phone brands, according to him, will be called ‘iQ’ and ‘MaxTel’.

PAPDAN, a group representing the interest of phone dealers in Ikeja Computer Village, the nation’s largest market cluster for technology products and services, has a membership strength of over 3,000 businesses.

Members of PAPDAN occupy a crucial place in the retail end of the tech market, as they sell in excess of 2 million units of phones and allied devices monthly into Nigeria and several economies across West Africa.

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