Mobile application development in Kenya is gaining speed as players rush to tap into the vast pool of young tech entrepreneurs by offering training.Experts predict that mobile applications will be the next big thing in five years.Initiatives like mLab East Africa and several others by Nokia has seen Kenyans benefit from fully-sponsored trainings on creation of mobile apps and how best to launch them into the market, revealing a growing interest in the sector.
Technology experts say the surge of investments into the mobile telephony sector is an indicator that the country is in step with the rest of the world in terms of software development as well as having the necessary pool of individuals to actualise it.
“Kenya has a clear competitive advantage in the mobile application development space with hundreds of programmers skilled in making everything from USSD and SMS services to Android and iPhone apps”, said Mr Erik Hersman, director of operations at the non-profit Ushahidi.
“It’s such a big deal here that we’re putting together a big event on June 14-15 called Pivot 25, where East Africa’s top programmers and start-ups will vie for a position to pitch their new mobile apps and services to over 400 of the industry’s leading experts and investors.”
In 2010, IBM Tech Trend Survey predicted that development of mobile software applications in the world for devices such as iPhone and Android will surpass applications developed on other traditional platforms in the next five years; with their net sale earnings increasing exponentially.
Kenya and the rest of the continent seem to have its pulse on this trend as was demonstrated in a recent World Bank competition dubbed “Apps for Development.”
In the competition, budding software developers across the world were invited to create applications using World Bank development data.
Majority of the applications sent in were from Africa – more than North America and Europe -with Kenya coming in third only to Uganda and Nigeria.
“The fact that African countries submitted the largest number of apps is a testament to the often untapped resource of burgeoning software developers in Africa. The talent is there and must be recognised,” said Emeka Okafor, Maker Faire Africa Curator and the director for TED Global 2007.
Submissions from the continent range from Facebook and iPhone applications to open payment platforms applications as well as those utilising Google Data and geovisualisation.
Riding on the increased interest of mobile application development in the continent, several technology players come together to form a network with their sights trained on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile-phone programmers, designers, and investors.
iHub, a tech community in Nairobi, has integrated with four other technology-focused start-up incubators like itself across Africa with the aim of creating a web of connections, support, and mentorship that will help technology entrepreneurs link and share innovations.
“Since the iHub concept has been so popular in Kenya, we are banding together with like-minded leaders of other labs and hubs around Africa to found AfriLabs, an association of African tech labs around the continent which will be the body that spreads this model across Africa”, Mr Hersman said.
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Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 January 2013 11:54)