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Africa’s mobile scene to feature at Mobile World Congress 2013

Africa’s expanding mobile scene is tipped to make a major splash at this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as the continent has been rated highly for having the fastest growing mobile technology adoption.

According to the AfricaTelecoms Online magazine, the presence of major industry players from Africa at the congress speaks volumes of where the continent is, with the telecom industry and innovation surrounding mobile technology.

Some of the big names expected to showcase the African story include Sifiso Dabengwa, Group President and CEO, MTN Group; Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) and Joint MD, Bharti Airtel and Her Excellency, Mrs Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology, Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, Nigeria.

Other bigwigs include Lars Linden, Head of Ericsson, Region Sub-Saharan Africa, Ericsson; George Ferreira, COO, Samsung Electronics Africa; Nic Rudnick, CEO, Liquid Telecom and Bradley Shaw, South African Managing Editor of Africa Telecoms magazine.

“Africa is an exciting space for the mobile industry as a whole,” said Shaw. “Through mere necessity beset by the unique challenges presented across the continent, it continually evolves and shifts, often producing pioneering innovation picked up by the rest of the world.”

The panels are not only expected to discuss Africa’s successes but also challenges such as the dwindling revenue on voice and how operators can get value added services to stay afloat with emerging technology.

Africa’s mobile scene currently has over 750 million subscribers and is expected to exceed the one billion mark in the next few years. The growth has seen numerous innovations built around the mobile phone and this has given rise to a new crop of innovators on the continent.

The GSMA Mobile World Congress will be held in Barcelona, Spain from February 25 to 28.

Google Chairman praises Nairobi as Africa’s tech hub

 Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has presented a summary of his Africa trip in which he said Kenya’s capital Nairobi was “a serious tech hub and may become the African leader”.
 On the reasons for the development of the African tech scene in general, Schmidt pointed highlighted the emergence of younger and more democratic leaders, young populations and the growing penetration of mobile phones, which will soon be the main source of Internet for Africans                                                                         

Of his analysis on some of the Sub-Saharan cities he visited in a week of business meetings, Schmidt stated in a Google+ post that Nairobi’s incubators are hosting potential solutions to many problems, including connecting M-Pesa with payment systems for local stores.

“Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader. A combination of relatively stable politics, the British legal system, and a benign climate seem to attract a significant share of foreign investment.” Schmidt said.

While in Kenya, Schmidt visited the iHub, a tech startups co-working space, where he met several companies still in their formative stages that have the potential to grow into “huge international business”.

“His questions were very sharp, as one would expect, on the local market and he was impressed by what some of the local startups like Kopo Kopo, SafariDesk and eLimu were doing,” Erik Hersman, a Kenyan entrepreneur, told Bloomberg.com.

Schmidt said that his company was already focusing on Kenya and was quick to point out that if the country manages to get through the upcoming March 4 elections without significant conflict, then its growth would be “quick”.

On the reasons for the development of the African tech scene in general, Schmidt pointed highlighted the emergence of younger and more democratic leaders, young populations and the growing penetration of mobile phones, which will soon be the main source of Internet for Africans

Ugandan students design smartphone

Students at the University of Makerere in Uganda have finalised designs for a smartphone, in an attempt to localise production and create a specifically Ugandan device for the market.

A prototype of the device, which is to be known as the Pearl, will be available by June.

The Pearl will display a number of special features including GPS-tracking, data analysis, biometric security, and a mobile weather station, reports the New Vision.

“We completed the design late last year. The prototype will be out in June," revealed Cosmas Mwikirize, assistant principal investigator working on the project.

“Uganda, like most of the other African nations, has always been a consuming country for foreign technologies. We want to prove that these things can also be done here,” he added.

Makerere University has gleaned particular attention for its technological enterprises over recent months, having designed and launched an electric car - the Kiira EV - in November 2011.

The Ugandan government provides funding to the university’s college of technology to enable the ongoing and numerous technology projects taking place. The university enjoys USh154 billion (US$57.5 million) of funding to cover the current twelve projects.

The college of technology has also received in excess of USh1 billion (US$374,000) from external development sources over the past year - in support of the two flagship projects, namely the Pearl and a project to create a solar-powered electric bus for public transport, to be known as the Kayoola.

            Mobile Web East Africa 2013

East Africa’s premier mobile conference is back. Following two sell-out successes, the third Mobile Web East Africa event will take place on February 20th and 21st at the Southern Sun Mayfair in Nairobi, Kenya. Check out this video to see what went down at MWEA2012.

                             completed agenda for the event…


Safaricom and Intel launch YOLO smartphone in Kenya

Leading mobile network operator Safaricom and chip-maker Intel have jointly launched a smartphone dubbed YOLO (You Only Live Once) in Kenya.

HumanIPO broke the news of the YOLO smartphone two weeks ago. Intel has been developing its own platform to host low-cost smartphone operable with the Android platform.

The new platform includes Intel Atom features aimed at emerging smartphone markets. This new platform, named Intel Inside, was unveiled during the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month in Las Vegas, United States.

“We’re redefining what cost-conscious Kenyans can expect from a smartphone,” said Peter Arina, general manager, Safaricom’s consumer business unit, adding that the Intel-based Yolo smartphone strikes a unique balance between price and performance.

He said: “It’s great news that Kenya will be the launch country in Africa for smartphones with Intel Inside and we expect a great reception from our customers.”

The YOLO device features a 3.5-inch touchscreen display for crisp text and images, support for FM radio and an expandable memory slot for greater flexibility, and HSPA+ modem support with Intel’s XMM 6265 modem for global roaming. It also has McAfee mobile security software to protect the device and also offer backup and restore functions.

“We are delighted to partner with Safaricom in bringing the first smartphone with Intel Inside to Kenyan consumers,” said Aysegul Ildeniz, Regional Intel Director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa Region.

“The new handset extends the benefits of Intel technology to more smartphone users around the world and we believe that Kenyan consumers will welcome the increased functionality and overall value of the device. We look forward to our continued cooperation with Safaricom.”

Intel made an Asian splash with their low-cost smartphone XOLO, which became a hit in India after launching in April 2012.

The YOLO will be launched later in other African countries. In Kenya it will cost KSh10,999 (approximately US$125) and will come with a 500MB offer on purchase from all Safaricom shops.

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