VISITORS to Kenya’s capital are often horrified by the homicidal minibuses called

matatu. They swerve around potholes, seldom signal and use their iffy brakes only

at the last second. They are therefore an ideal subject for a video game, which is

why Planet Rackus, a Nairobi start-up, released “Ma3Racer” last year.Each player

uses his mobile phone to steer a matatu down the street. The(unrealistic) goal is

to avoid pedestrians. Within a month, a quarter of a million people in 169 countries

had downloaded the game.

Last Updated (Thursday, 27 March 2014 13:58)

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Mobile Applications

Content Source: Tim Kelly, Lead ICT Policy Strategist, Infodev (World bank donor agency)

Mobile already represents the largest delivery platform for development applications –e.g.,

M-Pesa in Kenya

• No adequate substitutes are available –mobiles outnumber PCs by >16:1

• Low barriers to entry –Standard-based tools are available free of charge

• Market is highly segmented and localized –industry has not yet had its “Google moment”

• High export potential

Chart showing the growth of fixed and mobile connections in Africa, 1998-2008, in millions

Source: ITU World Telecom Indicators Database


Mobile Phone Usage Chart



Last Updated (Tuesday, 06 May 2014 09:09)


Mobile apps

App stores that have had notable successful over the years include Google’s Android and

Nokia’s Ovi stores. Photo/FILE

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


“The fact that African countries submitted the largest numberof 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.


The mobile app industry offers a worldwide market for developers which Ken Mwenda,

managing director of eMobilis, likens to a global mall where you upload your application and

if people like and download it,you get paid.App stores that have had notable successful over

the years include Google’s Android and Nokia’s Ovi stores.Kenya hopes to emulate the gains

made by India in the software development arena.The Asian country has carved a niche for itself in the

sector, with gross revenues from software exports growing from 1.2 per cent from 1997-1998 to

5.8 per cent from 2008-2009.According to, India’s software export revenue is

slated to grow by 13-14 per cent this year.In 2009, India earned $59.6 billion directly generated by the

software and services sector alone.

Additional reporting by Kui Kinyanjui


Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 January 2013 11:56)


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