Notes from Mobile Web East Africa 2012

Interactive MWEA2012 Session

Interactive MWEA2012 Session

The Mobile Web East Africa Conference 2012 was unlike any other I have been to. The conference managed to cover key aspects affecting the Mobile Web space  in East Africa.

It was interesting to get different perspectives from Government regarding Policy and Implementation as articulated by P.S. Bitange Ndemo and ICT Board C.E.O Paul Kukubo.

Investment and Business from Individuals such as Amy Klement, Chris Kirubi, Raj Gollamudi. Of note was the back and forth debate between Chris and Paul Kukubo from the ICT Board. Conclusion there needed to be more partnership between Government and Private Sector particularly in as far as facilitating the growth of Start-Ups is concerned.

Famous blogger Kachwanya also had a lengthy debate with Paul on the Chipuka Certification and the conclusion was that a certification process is important to give self taught developers some form of Professional Qualification which would act as a Industry standard or benchmark.

Another interesting event was the launch of both and by Mobile Planet(of the Semeni Fame) and Umuntu Media. These organizations were ably represented by Karanja Macharia and Johan Nel. Both these platform aim to address the lack of African platforms that provide e-commerce and publishing solutions.

In conclusion this edition of Mobile Web East Africa was particularly informative and I am sure all the attendants did learn a lot from all the sessions. What follows are my opening remarks as Chairperson of the opening session.

Mr Paul Kukubo C.E.O of Kenya ICT Board, Chief Executive Officers present, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen welcome to the 2nd Edition of the Mobile Web East Africa Conference in Nairobi.

My name is John Karanja Founder and C.E.O of and Co-Founder of Crowdpesa. Let me begin by giving a brief history of where we have come from since the last edition of this conference. I remember just 2 years ago the fiber-optic cable had just arrived on the shores of Mombasa, Kenya. This was thanks to the efforts of many of the people in attendance at this conference. I remember also at roughly the same time the iHub community had just been formed.

What followed shortly was the emergence of ideas, start-ups and businesses that began to take advantage of the increased access to Internet bandwidth and Opportunities and indeed we have seen many young people move onto the innovation space.

Ladies and Gentlemen another turning point in the evolution of the ecosystem was the launch of Open Data Kenya by His Excellency the President of Kenya Mwai Kibaki in July 2011. This allowed for the very first time access to public information and I think Kenya was the 2nd country in Africa to do so after Morocco. Since then we have seen a number of start-ups including Whive making use of this data.

Despite this tremendous growth if this space in Kenya we still face 3 key challenges as  I see them. Firstly the cost of Internet access is still high for the average Mwananchi. Lowering the cost of this bandwidth would significantly increase the size of the market and therefore facilitate the growth of business.

The second challenge is that of mentor-ship of the start-ups and businesses that are being formed in places like the iHub. This is of concern particularly because many of these entities are being formed by young people who by definition have little experience. More focus needs to shift to the mentor-ship of these individuals by more experienced people.

Lastly the distribution of products and services developed will remain a huge challenge that Small enterprises are ill equipped to manage.  This perhaps will be the role of larger platforms like Nokia Ovi Store/Safaricom store.

Let us examine 3 key enablers that will hopefully help resolve these challenges going forward. They are Social, Location and Mobile (SoLoMo) that is delivering solutions to the right people and the right place and at the right time.

With those few remarks it is with great pleasure I declare the conference officially open.

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