Archive for: February 2013

Microsoft 4Afrika – ‘Mawingu’ TV white space broadband project

To improve technology access, Microsoft has announced the deployment of a pilot project with the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communications and Kenyan Internet Service Provider, Indigo Telecom Ltd., to deliver low-cost, high-speed wireless broadband and create new opportunities for commerce, education, healthcare, and delivery of government services across Kenya.

The deployment is called ‘Mawingu’, which is Kiswahili for cloud. It is the first deployment of solar-powered based stations together with TV white spaces, a technology partially developed by Microsoft Research, to deliver high-speed internet access to areas currently lacking even basic electricity.

YouTube Preview Image

Microsoft hopes to implement similar pilots in East and Southern Africa in the coming months to further explore the commercial feasibility of white space technologies. These pilots will be used to encourage other African countries to accelerate legislation that would enable this white spaces technology to deliver on the promise of universal access – high-speed wireless internet – for the African continent.

Source: Microsoft 4Afrika – Mawingu TV

Subsistence farming is the cause of all our problems

If you watched Johannes, the World Bank Country head’s press conference on Friday, you should be worried. The Bank is worried that the declining food productivity especially maize will lead to severe food insecurity in the country. There are signs that we may not get sufficient rainfalls next year. This is no longer a surprise since the drought cycle in Kenya is four years.

Subsistence farming is the cause of all our problems. The solution is that we must reduce those we call farmers from 80% to less than 5% and increase manufacturing from its current contribution to GDP of 11% to more than 40%. We must move to large scale and mechanized farming in order to significantly improve on our productivity.

To achieve this, we must address land use in this country but we have decided to bury our heads in the sand on the issue of land. The problem is not in the distribution of it or the size one owns but in land use. It is far much easier to tax the Delameres for not utilizing the land than resettling 10,000 people on the land on the basis of ensuring equitable distribution of land. There is no country that has developed with majority of its people spread throughout the country in what they call Home Square.

There are more than 70 million people living in England which is the size of Nyanza. In Kenya, 20% of land is arable and can be used without reliance on irrigation. This is far bigger space than England but due to our primitive sub-division of the land, we are not able to use the land productively.

In Kisii, which is the most fertile land in Kenya, average land size has dropped to less than two acres. Some “farmers” grow less than 100 stalks of maize. Clearly we are creating problems as we see crime soaring.

As Johannes concluded, we must scale up our manufacturing. This will enable us to rapidly urbanize and hopefully leave land for farming. Manufacturing opportunities in Kenya are enormous with insatiable market around us. Can we for once wake up and try exploiting these opportunities? I shall be the first one to contribute Ksh. 100,000 as capital for those willing to mobilize resources and take the risk of venturing into manufacturing, either in light electronics or in value added services to our agricultural products.

There is a body of knowledge that will help us minimize the risk. I know for example, if we met the standards of potatoes we consume at KFC, we can begin to compete with Egypt and Brazil. This also provides us with the opportunity to develop standards apps and further expand job opportunities.

It is my prayer that this time round we go past palaver and do something not just for us, but for the country.

Image source: Sagarkatdare

The role of Social Media

The social media platform has been great and we say good things, yet in three days we forget about them.  At times we revive the issues but we never do anything that our children and grand children will remember us about.

The forum we have is great.  We need to use it much more by, for example, mobilizing resources to seize these emerging opportunities.  Our risk is minimized, if for example 1,000 people give Kshs. 100,000 for production of locally manufactured set top boxes or mobile handsets. We shall never get to do this unless we consider the opportunities our collective responsibility to exploit them.

Social media will become part of our history if we pull this.  No donor or anybody can do this for us.  Let us just do it.

YouTube Preview Image

It’s due time for our Industrial Revolution

A total of 81 million manufacturing jobs are to move out of China in the next few years.  Some jobs are moving back to the US and some are finding their way into emerging economies.

In the past few weeks since the ground breaking ceremony at Konza, I have met with six manufacturing outfits that are considering Africa as their new manufacturing destination. Two are well known chipset manufacturers. Read more

Get Adobe Flash player Plugin by wordpress themes