1 EDITORIAL 2 INSPIR’ NEWS 4 INSPIR’ FAVORITE The CardioPad, a solution to medical issues 8 INSPIR’ ASSOCIATION Discover USHAHIDI 12 INSPIR’ INTERVIEW Ismael Nzouetom presents SARA
CONTENTS 18 DARE TO INSPIRE Have you heard about the Kongossa Web Series ! 23 INSPIR’ ECONOMICS Meet Tidjane Deme, Office Lead Francophone Africa at Google 30 INSPIR’ THOUGHTS Chat with Oumarou Barry 32 INSPIR’ START-UP Raindolf Owusu, creator of Oasis Websoft 32 4 QUESTIONS TO Piamm Technologies creates FINETA
Delicious African Triplets Credits: 54 Kingdoms LLC Photographer: Jonathan Bailey Photography (New Haven, CT) From left to right: Samera Hamidu, Joey Iyalekhue, Ashanna Arthur
EDITORIAL 2013. The digital year for the continent?
Njorku, VMK, Wontara, Cardio pad, Piamm technologies... these are not just incomprehensible names, they are the names of online innovation in Africa. For the past few years, Africa has been “crumbling” under web entrepreneurial intiatives. Anglophone Africa is leading the way but Francophone Africa is not far behind. The continent is bursting with new and fresh ideas everyday, each more and more unique. The arrival and the huge success of new technologies can be related to ITS preempted uproar. Preempted, because in fact the initiatives have always existed, however the tools to bring them to light were non-existant. Today Africa has an immense technological potential. Potential that needs to be exploited to the fullest. The African continent is the biggest consumer of mobile technology. Consider the fast paced spread of smartphones WHICH results IN faster, more Spread out and simplified acces to the internet. Africa has only just began it’s technological adventure. Basically, Africa has huge technological potential, young entrepreneurs ready to invest and with ideas. Lots of ideas! Why is it then that only a few of these ideas see the light of day? There are many reasons for this, however I am convinced that the lack of infrastructure is our Achille’s heel. In Francophone countries, gouvernments are still very reluctant despite a few exceptions such as AKINDEWA or ACTISPA, the continent is in dire need of tech hubs, incubators or other technogical hubs to foster and accelerate the creation of all these start ups that have their ideas already on paper. Despite this we have every reason to be optimistic. Web entrepreneurs are beginning to get the recognition they deserve. Google’s presence in Africa since 2011 is a great way for them to make themselves known. This month you will discover a selection of these new web innovators: who they are and their perspectives. So will 2013 be the digital year for Africa? As you ponder this question, myself and the Inspire Africa team wish you a very happy new year! Enjoy
SPEED AFRETIS The association AFRETIS held last December 7 in Paris, the first edition of the Speedâ€‹â€‹ Afretis. It is a convivial dinner based on the concept of speed dating, during which participants were able to meet new people and expand their networks. An original initiative we urge!
INSPIRE NEWS CAREERS IN AFRICA EVENT ! global Career Company is happy to announce the launch of its recruitment event Careers in Africa, which will be held in Paris (France) From April 12 to April 14 2013. Accessible only by invitation, this event will bring together young african talents and HR representatives of key companies investing on the continent. Professional interviews, company presentations and networking will go on during this week-end. In addition, candidates will have the chance to discover projects of young talented africans through multiple organizations. You have until February 20th 2013 to apply. For more information, please go to http://www.careersinafrica. com/paris
SUKAABĂ‰ TV The first TV channel for children The executive board of the Audiovisual Productions company for Children Sukaabe Media Services, announced Tuesday, December 25, the launch in Dakar in January 2013 of the first television channel dedicated exclusively to Senegalese children. According to the managers of this channel, the creation of Sukaabe TV help entrench the children in their traditions and cultures, in a context where medias and ICTs contribute heavily to the education.
This new TV Channel Sukaabe TV (which airs in Senegal): Cartoons, TV, documentaries, mind games, and many other surprises! This is a very nice way to start the year for our toddlers!
INSPIR’ FAVORITE Our section Inspir’ Favorite has never gotten a better named. Arthur Zang, computer and software engineer from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Polytechnique Cameroon has established the Cardio Pad, a new kind of tablet which allows remote cardiovascular examination. How is this possible?
From Engineer to Entrepreneur
develops and manufactures applications of embedded systems for medical use” confides M. Zang. He goes on to say that “Our mission is to find technological solutions to public health problems in Africa. We focus on the most devastating diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, malaria and many others.” The company - which has five employees and is working with the Government of Cameroon - specializes in the manufacture of medical equipment to conduct tests remotely.
Two years ago, Arthur Zang, was a graduate of the Polytechnic in Yaounde (Cameroon), he later became a researcher in biomedical engineering until March 2012. His research has helped him identify a recurring problem faced by people: many Cameroonians live in isolated areas with no health centers. Getting decent treatment under these conditions is therefore an obstacle course, as people have to travel thousands of miles to have a proper treatment. To overcome this obstacle, Arthur Zang de- A problem, a solution: The CardioPad cided with the help a few engineers and doctors - to create the company Himore Medical. Cameroon is a country of 20 million of peo“Himore Medical is a company that designs, ple, with only 30 cardiologists unevenly
INSPIR’ FAVORITE distributed over the territory. In other words, there is only 1 cardiologist for more than 660,000 inhabitants. In addition, more than half of Cameroonians do not have the means to travel to urban areas where the majority of hospitals have the adapted equipment and enough cardiologists. Medical Himore has its place in such an environment. The solution is therefore simple: Find a device that can perform cardiac examinations of citizens living far from urban areas. This is the reason why M. Zang created the CardioPad. Developed since 2010 and assembled in Cameroon, the CardioPad has very specific features.
How does it work?
A difficult success Even if today the government is funding research by Himore Medical by up to $ 30,000, Arthur Zang still had some difficulties. According to him, “The major difficulty is to share my idea. Initially, when I wrote the project CardioPad, I submitted it to several people and several companies, seeking financial coaching of course. Unfortunately, many did not believe in the project”. Luckily, the Ministry of Public Health in Cameroon, believed in it. It offered a first contract to Himore Medical so that the company can provide a few hospitals in the country with medical equipment. As a young entrepreneur, Arthur Zang also had moments of doubt: “It comes a time when your family is in financial difficulties and you are tempted to give up on your project in order to find a job to support the family needs”. But Arthur has never stopped working, because for him “The price of ambition is first and foremost the time we are ready to spend for it”.
Firstly, the CardioPad like the electrocardiogram allows examination. “The goal of this functionality is to acquire the signal that comes from the heart patient. The signal has to be scanned, processed, displayed and printed as an examination report” explains Arthur Zang. This report shall be transmitted by GSM to a cardiologist located in a different city. The CardioPad also provides elements for the di- Chrys. N agnosis by extracting the necessary information to present to the cardiologist. Finally, all information related to the examination are stored in the shelf and can be reused later. The CardioPad has other advantages. According to its creator, these benefits are related to “the ability to perform multiple tests simultaneously. In addition to this, the absence of cables reduces the risk of electrocution of the patient and allows the patient to move without interrupting the recording. “
INSPIR’ ASSOCIATION We often hear that new technologies and the Internet era have democratized information. However if we look closer, it seems it is not necessarily the case. Is the most critical or vital information out there really that easy to access? If not what are the alternatives for the citizens of tomorow? To answer these questions, we turned to Juliana Rotich, executive director of Ushahidi.
Where does the USHAHIDI project come from? The ‘Ushahidi Project’ began as a website set up by a collaboration of Kenyan citizen journalists during a time of crisis in Kenya. After the post-election fall-out at the beginning of 2008, it was intended to map incidents of violence and peace efforts throughout the country based on reports submitted via the web and mobile phones. The traction of the website – which gathered 45,000 users in Kenya – catalyzed the realization amongst its developers that the platform had potential beyond Kenya’s borders, relevance and use for others around the world. We then founded “Ushahidi” the company, through which we curate, build and enhance “The Ushahidi Platform” our primary tool to gather information and visualize it in creative ways that serve to empower and inform any user to act. What kind of services do you provide and target? We specialise in developing free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping by building tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering
the barriers for individuals to share their stories. This allows us to work with a multitude of Humanitarian, Private Associations, Governments, the Civil Society and individuals who are interested in gathering and sharing information in unique ways. We also push towards openness, collaboration, innovation and research particularly in the technology industry. Can you explain to our readers the concept of crowd sourcing? Crowd Sourcing is the act of using volunteered information to report and gather information about a situation, phenomena or occurrence. It relies on people; eye witnesses to provide, report, confirm and update information to a service.
What are the diffrences between SwiftRiver Crowmap and The Ushahidi platform? The Ushahidi Platform is a free and open source solution that enables anyone to setup a crowd sourcing instance which collects and visualizes information. It collects information from multiple sources and mediums like SMS, twitter, voice or text based reports. The
INSPIRâ€™ ASSOCIATION The platform is fully customizable and can be run on your own server. CrowdMap is a service that is hosted by Ushahidi and allows you to collect data from a wide audience using mobile devices like an Android or iPhone App or simple SMS and visualize that information on a public map and timeline. It can be considered the mainstream version of the core Ushahidi Platform on which it is built. Bringing CrowdMap to market reduced the time it takes to setup a fully functioning deployment to 10 minutes. SwiftRiver is, an Ushahidi initiative, representing the next generation managing news and understanding the value of any stream of information. It is a free and open source software platform that uses a combination of algorithms and crowd-sourced interaction to validate and filter information, enabling organizations to better handle overwhelming volumes of data. It can be used together with the Ushahidi platform to filter and sort out the quality data with the most relevance and value by design. It then produces better outputs to be visualized by the Ushahidi Platform.
how it can enhance decision making through factual based analytics has some stakeholders holding on to their data even more. At Ushahidi we support open access data sets as we have seen the value in sharing data and how it can empower, enhance participation and far greater contribute to a society and nation. Increased connectivity and access to the internet has made it easier for some data to be accessed and used by the public. In terms of difficulty in many sectors I think itâ€™s a little easier but there
Is it difficult nowadays to transfer and share information? Because we have a tendency to think Internet can open any door. The internet and ready accessible information have created the misconception that it should be equally easy to access any data. However, people, organizations, and governments have different paces for internet adoption and different policies regarding data, its use and access to or licensing aspects. Increased awareness as to the value of data and
remains a fair amount of red tape crippling the free flow of information. It seems volunteers have an important role in the association. What is that role precisely?
INSPIR’ ASSOCIATION Volunteers have the opportunity to play a in a way that generates solutions that are relcritical role in many organisations where evant and tailored to the local context. maintaining dedicated personnel is not quite always feasible. Their efforts can be invaluable to an Ushahidi deployment. For example for Joan. Y election monitoring, trained volunteers can form a ‘bounded crowd’ or trusted reporter able to supply, confirm and validate crowd sourced information.
On what operations are you working right now? What is the future for USHAHIDI? We are significantly focusing our efforts towards supporting Uchaguzi (www.Uchaguzi. co.ke) Uchaguzi is a technology platform that allows citizens and civil society to monitor and report incidences around the electoral process. We are aiming to apply the comprehensive crowdsourcing principles while working closely with the civil society during the 2013 general elections in Kenya. Uchaguzi provides web and mobile-based channels for citizens and civil society to report on electoral offences such as intimidation, hate speech, vote buying, polling clerk bias, voting misinformation etc. The reports are then sent to the electoral authorities or security personnel for action. Uchaguzi recognizes the need for empowering citizens in the protection of democracy by inspiring individual and collective action in enforcing transparency, accountability and efficient electoral service delivery. In the long term we hope to focus on “collaborative context-making.’” by providing more tools for people to contextualise information, then stimulate collaborative problem-solving
INSPIR’ INTERVIEW ISMAEL NZOUETOM THE NEXT STEEVE JOBS? If you like new technologies and you live in France, you’ve probably heard of I-Dispo, one of 15 most promising start-ups of Europe according to Microsoft. At its head, a young Cameroonian entrepreneur, Ishmael Nzouetom just signed a partnership with MTN, a mobile phone company. This young entrepreneur is ready to conquer Africa’s ICT market. Can you introduce yourself to our readers? Since high school, I have been passionate about electronics. I got my degree in this sector. After completing an associate degree in engineering and communication networks at the IUT Bandjoun Cameroon, I obtained a scholarship. This scholarship was a grant from La Francophonie and has allowed me to continue my engineering studies in Paris. I left Cameroon in 2002 and graduated 3 years later. Then, I worked in several consulting companies in new technologies such as Microsoft for which I worked for 3 years. I left Microsoft in October 2010, to devote myself to I-Dispo. What is I-Dispo about? To make it simple, I-Dispo is a virtual assistant called SARA. We want you to feel like SARA is in your pocket, in your car, or on your computer. SARA is able to help you accomplish your daily tasks. They may be organizational tasks . So you can find the best price for a plane ticket, make an appointment with a doctor, schedule an appointment with your banker, or check the status of a package. There is a wide range
of actions that SARA can perform. In summary, it is as if you had a virtual secretary that you can call 24/7. How do you synchronize the availability of a client with the one of the professional? This is completely natural because our users often prefer the mail function. If you want to make an appointment with your doctor, you write to SARA saying “Sara, I wish to make an appointment with my doctor here is my availability”. You give your availability and she will take care of the rest. SARA already has a relationship with the doctor and she is able to send an email directly to him by saying “Christelle wishes to make an appointment with you, here is her availability, what are yours? “. If their availabilities match, both participants are informed and the appointment is scheduled. However, if Sara has no connection with the doctor, SARA will be helped by our customer representative, who will be able to make the request, call your doctor to make an appointment and bind a relationship between the doctor and I-Dispo platform. In this way, future transactions will take place
automatically. How long does it take for the task to be accomplished as soon as a customer representative takes over? Usually, we promise a return within 24 hours. However, the process can take between 10 minutes and one day. It depends on the speed of the response of the parties involved in the process.
Your service is free, how do you make profit? The service is not completely free. There is a very limited version which is free and allows users to test the platform. The full version is available via a premium access for € 9.90 per month. There is also a VIP version for people who want a specific type of service. This option is available to businesses How many and what type of profession- and individuals. als use your platform? We now have a database of about 58 mil- How do you convince investors such as lion professionals in 50 different countries. Xavier Niel (Free CEO, Editor’s note) to We also have thousands of users, and our invest in a project like I-Dispo? ambition is to reach one million users in What these people have always told us 2013 through partnerships that we are put- when they have invested in our company is ting in place, including those with Renault that they bet primarily on men. I founded
this company with four other partners: Sylviane Kamga, Laurent Lecoeur, Abdou Diop and Nicolas Netgrouf. I think what convinced them, it is the determination of our team. They were in front of ambitious people, in front of young men and women determined to change the digital processing tasks for business and individuals. We really think we are bringing a new way of interacting with computers. With SARA, there is no need to go on a search engine or to take the phone to perform a certain kind of tasks. A virtual and efficient assistant takes care of it. I-Dispo’s speech is to say that if you put a virtual assistant staff in the pocket of every individual around the world, it could revolutionize the way we use digital. I think it is this vision and ambition that attracted many entrepreneurs, because the product i-Dispo has the potential to become, hopefully, a world revolution. I-Dispo is only available in French today. Do
you make it available in other languages and in other countries? No, I-Dispo is available in French and English. We currently cover Western Europe, and gradually we are starting with the United States of America under the form of sponsorship users. The name of your application, “SARA” is reminiscent of that of the iPhone, “SIRI”. Coincidence or strategy? It is true that the concepts and the name are similar. We wanted a name with two syllables that can be pronounced in all languages. Beyond this, the name Sara has values that were consistent with those that we want to convey. So indeed, Sara and Siri are similar, but it is a coincidence. Moreover, we have an excellent relationship with Apple. We are in discussions with them to see how we can possibly create synergies between the two applications. Propos Recueillis par Chrys N.
DARE TO INSPIRE OSER L’AFRIQUE and AFRICA LINK PRESENT: THE KONGOSSA WEB SERIES One event. 2 dates. In January 3 and 4, Africa Link and Oser L’afrique organized in Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon, a conference on the impact and the development of New Technologies in Africa.
The initiator FRANCK NLEMBA I am Franck Nlemba, co-founder of the association Africa Link. I have been working in digital marketing for years now and I help brands improve their online visibility: search engines, social networks, local platforms…etc How did the Africa link adventure begin? It happened following the realization of the poor quality of websites in Africa. In addition to this, the rising of social networks and the evolution of African society led us to create an organization with the goal professionals, entrepreneurs and students of helping entrepreneurs find their business the tools and knowledge needed to succeed models and online visibility. in this environment. THE EVENT, THE COOPERATION
What are the KONGOSSA WEB SERIES? It’s a workshop composed of work spaces and work rooms on the web in Frica. During 2 days we aim to give professionals the possibility to meet online entrepreneurs and for students to put themselves out there for opportunities on the Internet. Africa is a changing continent, technology is infiltrating all aspects of society and we want to offer
What lessons where drawn from the KONGOSSA WEB SERIES that just ended? It is a very positive lesson. We were lucky to have great representatives of technological entrepreneurs in Cameroon, especially youth from the North and North east who are not usually represented in this domain. Amongst the attending entrepreneurs, 3 plan to launch a start-up this year and to set it up as a real company in Cameroon. Generally throughout the 2 days (from the 3rd to the
DARE TO INSPIRE
4th of January), we welcome about 2250 people. The event was very interactive between the participants and the public, compared to the last edition.
When are the next KONGOSSA WEB SERIES? Will you be partnering up again? The next Kongassa web series will be held in two years. We are open to any type of collaboration both from entrepreneurs and associations that want to promote Africa. These partnerships can take shape outside of major events, thanks to the opening up of clubs and workshops that will allow web passionates to work with us.
How did you come about organizing the event with O.S.E.R lâ€™Afrique? What has this partnership generated? It all came from the desire to work together and learn from our respective experiences. O.S.E.R lâ€™Afrique is an organization that looks to implicate the youth and we have the same target. The partnership was a success; OSER Afrique is less specific than we are, as we are more focused on the web and multimedia. They helped us reach a lot more people compared to the previous editions. OSER also has a strong presence in other African countries; the event will eventually take on a more global scale.
Interview by Karl N.
INSPIR’ ECONOMICS TIDJANE DEME ‘‘Internet has to be relevant to african users, which means african contents, contents that are generated by africans for africans’’ He has one of the most promising futures of his generation. Tidjane DEME is the head of Google in Francophone Africa. His Responsibilities are even more strategic since Africa is now part of this dynamic created by New technologies. Everyone recognizes the potential of the continent in ICT is enormous, but the means by which this potential can be efficiently used are still weak. So what is Google’s mission in Africa Mr. DEME? Inspire Afrika: What is Google’s mission in Africa? Tidjane DEME: As you may know, our mission worldwide is to organize the worlds information and make it useful and accessible. However, in Africa Google is working towards contributing to build an internet ecosystem that is rich, open and viable. It then leads us to organize Africa’s information and make it useful.
nologies. Moreover, there is a question of entrepreneurship: the internet develops where there is a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem that innovates and generates great content online. There is also the issue of regulations and quality. The internet requires a certain open and favorable policy environment to develop. We work with the government, policy makers and civil actors to bring about those types of regulations. We try to make the internet useful in everybody’s daily I.A: How do you proceed to best fulfill this life. For instance, we are working with busimission? nesses to help them grow. It will lead to more T.D: We have three axes of work. The first axe businesses embracing internet technologies and is about access: we want to contribute to make creating a stronger internet ecosystem overall. internet accessible to everybody in Africa, especially to the next wave of internet users who are I.A: What are the challenges you have to overessentially young urban Africans. We want the come to bring Africa to the next level in term Internet to be available and affordable. We also of technology or internet? make sure that it comes with the adequate quali- T.D: I like to use the term opportunities rather ty and the right boundaries. We don’t want Afri- than challenges. What brings Google to Africa cans to have a downgraded internet. The second is the realization that this is a land of opporaxe we want to work on is the content. Internet tunities for Internet growth. When you look has to be relevant to African users, which means at the development of the population, the moAfrican contents; contents that are generated by bile phone or smartphone penetration that are Africans for Africans. That is the largest part be- growing very fast in Africa, especially with the cause overall we want to build a stronger ecosys- availability of low cost smartphones, you realtem. A strong internet ecosystem requires many ize that it is a great opportunity for the African things, starting with a good educational system. people and for internet companies all over the If Internet has to be developed, people need to world to build a rich and strong ecosystem. Yes, acquire even stronger skills around these tech- there are challenges. Access is not yet
INSPIRâ€™ ECONOMICS democratized in Africa. Not everybody can have access to internet; this is one of the challenges we are working on. Some regulations need to be put in place to help internet growth in Africa. We are trying to get businesses, artists, and content creators to bet on internet. Come and work with us and help the internet grow. It requires them to become aware of the benefits they can get from internet today, even if the market is not as developed as it could be yet, there is already a benefit for businesses creators by being online. One of the challenges is getting that message through. Making people aware of these opportunities and bringing them online to grab these opportunities.
better internet experience for African users. I think it is worth the investment.
I.A: Another problem in Africa is the slow Internet connection. What is your plan of action? T.D: It depends on how you define slow connection. But yes of course we want everybody to have a decent internet access that brings them all the benefits of the internet. If you look at what is happening today on the continent, you will see that mobile technologies have been growing very fast and have been providing new doorways. The role we want to play is to help developers and local entrepreneurs in their environment. We want to help them develop applications that can work on different screens and different types of devices. We make sure that our own platform also works better in that environment since we have deployed across the continent a set of cash service that helps make youtube faster to access in Africa. These are the kind of things we can do to address this challenge. What we hope is to see more and more Africans getting online, creating an even stronger demand and all the stakeholders will see an opportunity to invest and provide
versity. So we have a whole program to support universities, to get them online, because universities and the education environment overall are usually the first to adopt these tools and to disseminate them across the region. We are working to help universities and schools all over the continent to provide better access to their students. What we mean is to be able to provide every student on campus with free high quality internet access and then helping them leverage this into making the university and the school better with tools like Google ads for education. We want to create the demand, but we also want to work with government. For instance in September in Senegal we published a study on the obstacles and the opportunities for Internet growth in Senegal focusing on infrastructures. We were trying to show what the opportunity in Senegal is but the main obstacles for the past ten years were the lack of adequate government policies. There is a lack of investment, of infrastructure, and competition. These are the reasons why prices are higher than they should be.
I.A: Your activities are then growing the demand by focusing on education for instance? T.D: Yes Google has a very strong tie with education. As you know Google was born in a uni-
INSPIRâ€™ ECONOMICS I.A: Can you give us some concrete examples of your actions in Senegal or in Cameroon? T.D: We started a program in Nigeria a while ago where we partnered with universities to help them develop the infrastructures. Theses universities will then provide internet access based on the infrastructures we provide to students. We have done it in few universities such as the University of Lagos and in few universities in Ghana. In Senegal also we are working with the University of St Louis. In Cameroon, we have not started working with universities. However, we have been present in Cameroon for Google days, and we have been helping communities of high-tech passionate people within universities and outside universities to share knowledge. I.A: What are the Google Days about? T.D: Google Days are events where we bring together Google engineers and developers in a country. You can look at it as a conference where Google engineers come, present and train developers on tools. However, it is more of a meeting point. What we are trying to encourage during these meetings is developersâ€™ exposition to this technology and expertise, and to the context they are working in. We discuss with them the difficulties they are facing every day in developing innovative internet services. The exchange goes both ways. The results are developers and the community getting inspired by the attention and the contact with Google experts, our engineers getting absolutely inspired and learning a lot from these events about the market and how to serve developers better. We have done Google days in francophone Africa in Senegal, Cote dâ€™Ivoire and Cameroon. We have also done it in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and in a few countries. Now we are looking for going even further as we did this year in Kenya by creating a Google week event where we go deeper with advance users of our technologies and really help them leverage it in their businesses. We want to go beyond the presentation and go really behind on what they do. I.A: If I am a young African developer what pro-
cess should I follow to work with Google? T.D: Actually what I like about this question is that you are not saying working FOR Google but working WITH Google. I think it is the right question. What we are looking for is to empower African developers so they can leverage their skills and generate revenue online and innovate for this market. One obvious way to do it for instance is for people who develop websites to use AdSense to monetize and generate revenue from their websites. I will say to a developer today look at the whole set of tools we give you to help you build innovative services. You can use Google map API to access all these maps we have been developing in Africa to provide geolocated services. You can use YouTube to bring contents online and Africa is rich with fantastic video contents that will benefit from being exposed to the whole world. There are options to monetize these contents now in countries where we have launched YouTube such as in Senegal Kenya and Ghana. We provide a large set of API that developers can leverage. One of the popular platforms today is Android which allows them to develop applications for mobile phones that are getting more popular in Africa and that create huge opportunities for revenue generation. If I am talking to a developer today I will say that we have faith in their skills and we want to empower them, and they should go ahead and take this opportunity and use these tools. We will be very happy to hear their feedbacks on how we can help them leverage these tools better.
INSPIR’ ECONOMICS I.A: Do you work with African Governments to lower Internet costs? T.D: It is true that cost is one of the biggest barriers to internet access today in Africa. It doesn’t depend solely on one stakeholder but on many things. One of the issues we have seen is the lack of competition in some segments of the market. For instance, our access study shoes that Senegal went from 9
and social development in their countries. We also share with them what we know, what we have seen in other countries about options, solutions, policies that are favorable to internet growth and how they can bring competition, investment and infrastructure. The demand is there; this demand is strong and palpable. Young Africans in cities know about the internet and could benefit a lot from the internet. Prices are still way too high, and they need to go down. Competition, investment and infrastructure are keys to development of affordable access. I.A: In your opinion, how can new technologies contribute to the economic growth of the continent? T.D: I won’t quote all these studies you have probably heard such as the McKenzie study about the impact of ICT penetration on economy and GDP. However I want to share with you the conversation I had earlier today with students in Senegal. We were having lunch and discussing employment. We were doing a very quick estimation on how many jobs will be available in Senegal every year, and we compared it to the number of graduates who will be willing to work. Our lower estimation is that only a quarter of people who will graduate this year will be able to get a job. Therefore three quarters of these students need to create their jobs. We see ICT and Internet as one of the leading opportunities for them to create these jobs. It opens up their skills to markets all over the world, and it creates opportunities to innovate. An African developer or an African entrepreneur who is sitting here who has a computer, a good internet access and strong skills can really compete on the global market, innovate, and generate revenues and jobs for himself and other people around him. I think that it is the most important avenue we should be looking as benefits of internet in Africa. It will create jobs for the next generation of job seekers who won’t be able to fit in the current formal sector or economy.
internet access providers in 2002 to only 2 internet access providers today. There is an issue here of competition in the market leading to create prices that are higher than they should be. Cameroon for instance has just been given 3G licenses. It takes a lot of time to make this technology available. These are the kind of issues we are addressing when we engage with governments. First we try to show the government and policy makers around Africa how internet can have a positive impact on economy
Interview made by Chrys N.
INSPIRâ€™ THOUGHTS OUMAROU BARRY GIVE A MORE ACCURATE IMAGE OF AFRICA At the head of Business Africa and Initiative Africa, two emissions followed by almost 30 million viewers in the world, Oumarou Barry represents the new wave of media in Africa. Chief-editor and Producer at People TV, It is naturally that we wanted to have his opinion about ICT development in Africa, the role of media in this evolution and the survival of journalism... Here are bits of our conversation with him...
The spread of Internet in Africa The spread of Internet simply means that Africa is entering the new world. A world where everything moves faster. In this world, you must be logged in and have access to information in a timely manner. It is also necessary to have tools allowing you to react quickly to such information. In this sense, I see that change with a favorable eye, although the penetration of new technologies is still not evenly spread across the continent. Deficit of information channels in Africa I do not think there is a deficit of information channels, because there are more and more TV channels and information in and about Africa. In Europe for instance, there are new Pan-African oriented channels such as Vox Africa or Africa 24. The presence of new players on the Internet, in my opinion, is fair game. They are needed. However, quantity does not always mean quality. It is therefore necessary to focus on quality both on the internet and on traditional media. Itâ€™s nice to have media: a television or a radio.
But if the editorial processing is unprofessional, people will not follow you. You must therefore not only focus on quality, but also on the training of journalists and media leaders. Media production abroad Most media have their headquarters based abroad since in terms of infrastructure and production, there is everything you need. They have contributors on the ground who give them the information. Then, the assembly, the technical and editorial compliance can be made anywhere. However, ultimately, it is preferable to do the entire process from production to assembly - directly on the continent. A broadband Internet access and reliable telephone lines are necessary to do so. Some countries such as Kenya or South Africa do not have too much trouble in this area, but in the majority of countries, the transition is still difficult to implement.
English and Portuguese. When we work on our programs, we are confident that they will be released as they are credible. However, I do not know if the information posted by Mr X on his twitter account is more relevant. We should try to find a complementarity. Sev eral media now rely on “citizen journalists”. However, they must do a minimum of verification and sorting: What is information? What is not? In the end, it is for the public to decide, even if we journalists have to adapt to this new way of processing information. We need to bring a value added in order to value added to a journalist keep and win a wider audience.
The Internet work Internet opens up different horizons to me because I have access to more information. Internet can still be a trap, since we have access to so much content it can be difficult to make sense of things. I discovered my potential topics for shows thanks to internet. I also discovered the work of correspondents in Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya and Francophone Africa through social networks. At the end of the day, the most important thing is how you use your information. Do not spend hours in front of your computer just to say “I have internet access”. I use it because I need it in a very specific context.
The disappearance of the journalist because of Internet I’m not afraid because I know that anyone can post information, but everyone can not have the processing and analysis of a journalist. Not everyone can have a broadcast network, or can verify the veracity of information. For example, we broadcast on a set of forty pan African channels in French,
Africa’s image through new technologies At least with these new tools, we have the possibility to have more content from Africa. We will then have a more accurate image of what is going on. TV pictures Africa as a place of war, corruption and coups d’Etat. You cannot deny it, but on the other hand, there is a dynamic Africa, one that moves and that includes change. At the same time, we have entrepreneurs, lawyers, engineers, journalists, etc… It is important to put all these people before. The fact that Africa has entered the world of communication through the Internet will allow Africans (legitimately) to tell their story, that of Africa.
INSPIR’ START-UP NEW SOLUTIONS FOR AFRICAN DEVELOPERS Raindolf Owusu belongs to the emerging young generation of developers full of ideas and energy currently in Africa. Native of Accra, Ghana, he manages Oasis Websoft from his family home, an African start-up that he created to solve technological and logistical issues faced by Internet African users. Discover. A student in Information Technology at the Methodist University College in Accra, Raindolf Owusu wants to change the image of Africa in terms of technology. According to him, Africa was often described as “an agricultural continent”. With the emergence of a new business environment, it is high time he said, to prove that the continent is quite conducive to the development of new technologies. He therefore created Oasis Websoft in 2011, in order to show that in Africa “there are skilled developers who can compete at a global scale”. Raindolf also works with two partners, Jeffrey and Aaron, who help him in the identification of the various problems faced by Internet users in Ghana. A New Web Browser: ANANSI Web Browser Anyone with a little experience on the continent will agree that in general, the quality-price ratio is not good. The packages offered are often expensive and give customers a low bandwidth. Therefore, the navigation is slow, and downloads can last for hours or even for days. To address these issues, Raindolf created ANANSI. ANANSI is a web browser adapted to the quality of the Internet connection in Africa. “Anansi’s specificity is that you can work without a connection. For example, you can take a picture with your webcam and the picture will be sent automatically when the connection is available again” says the young man. In addition, with ANANSI it becomes easier to download files,
thanks to a download manager which is available for free. Anansi has more than 4,000 A passion for Africa downloads. If today this young student in information technology made ANANSI and AFRICAAP A platform for African developers: AFRI- available for free, it is because he believes in CAAP Africa and its potential. Indeed, when asked African developers are also facing a problem what his motivations were, he said “It is the of distribution of their software. As Raindolf passion for my profession and the belief that deplores, “We, as developers, need to pay for we can succeed in Africa. I believe in Africa”. the programs we put online. Unfortunately, we To make a profit, it offers its services to comdo not always have the means, much less the panies based outside of the continent by creataudience”. This is the reason why he launched ing their web sites or their online applications. AFRICAAP, a platform specially dedicated Raindolf does not want to rush. For him to be to African developers creating products that a student-entrepreneur is a great opportunimeet the needs of African Internet users. AF- ty, “There is information that I did not have RICAAP is very simple to use. Unlike other about entrepreneurship or management of platforms, it allows developers to put their new technologies. Being a student while dosoftware on Internet for free. In addition to ing my business is a good thing. I realized that this, thanks to the different modules already nowadays, being a developer means that we integrated into the platform, developers have must be able to do both: create and sell softthe possibility to get payed for their applica- ware. “ tions at affordable prices for everyone.
4 QUESTIONS TO PIAMM TECHNOLOGIES : HOW TO HANDLE ACCOUNTING DATA PIAMM Technologies is a recent Togolese start-up that aims to enhance financial reporting in Africa. Through software and services for professionals in finance and accounting, the company wants to be a benchmark tool in terms of data management. Its director, ERIC KOMLAN AKPEDJE KEDJI presents the flagship product of the company: FINETA. Why did you create FINETA? Fineta is based on the observation that the accounting tools in Africa tend to be thought of as an adaptation - often rough – of foreign accounting solutions. Opportunities offered by the growing availability of the Internet, such as a fluid collaboration on the accounting records remain untapped. In addition to this, the number of accounting professionals is very low compared to the demand, and the need for automation arises more acutely than ever. So it was time to make FINETA available. What is FINETA? FINETA is an incredible package created to handle accounting data from the balance to the financial statements. It is intended primarily for accountants, bookkeepers and accounting businesses located in the OHADA zone (OHADA is the French acronym for “Organisation for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa”). FINETA can analyze and automatically generate financial statements, while correcting the anomalies of a balance. Thanks to FINETA tools, it is also possible to compare balances and accounting packages.
4 QUESTIONS TO ing solutions have difficulties to adopt FINETA, even if they need the additional tools we provide. This requires us to continuously make FINETAâ€™s specific features easy to access for those who have their hands tied by their accounting solutions. We want to make our features available as independent tools (balance analysis, comparison of accounting records, etc.).
Are FINETA analysis tools free? Most of FINETAâ€™s analysis tools (balance analysis, comparison of financial statements or balances, etc..) are free. However users have to pay for others tools, such as the creation of financial statements and exportation of data (for the tax declaration), even if there is a free trial available. As for prices, we offer subscription contracts, depending on the number of files and features the client needs. One of our package costs about $ 150/month for 5 accounting records. What challenges are you facing? On one hand, we encounter reluctance from our clients concerning web applications. This reluctance is due to the limited information available on this mode of provision of IT because it is relatively recent. Much of our communication efforts are therefore assigned to inform our client about the benefits of computer services in terms of security and availability of accounting data. On the other hand, accounting professionals who have already invested in other account-
Find FINETA on https://fineta.piamm.com
Credits: 54 Kingdoms LLC Photographer: Jonathan Bailey Photography (New Haven, CT) Model: George Robert George is wearing an UoA Sweet