There are lots of things going on currently in the local innovation scene. Many of them just around a few crowds here and there. There are opportunistic individuals and companies which have taken charge and hypnotised the Kenyan Developers into believing that they have the sole key to the innovation nirvana. Any user, content creator and developer who has dared have an independent mind has been labeled useless, busy body and not good for any event or innovation space.

It is now turning the innovation scene into not an innovation in tech but an innovation in psycophancy and mastery of what I call m……. Ok I will not say it but you know it. Take the people who have made it in Kenya. The key turning points in tech in Kenya. WHere were the so called gurus and enablers then? Were they needed? Were the companies now busy misusing young men there when Mwaniki, Kukubo and Njoroge were creating 3Mice? Were they there when Kamal Budhabati was struggling to create Craft Silicon? Were they there when the young Bernard Kioko was struggling with Bernsoft. They now parade these men all over like they created them. To be paraded, they have to be given free handkerchiefs with the opportunists colours to flash around with the sole aim of benefiting neither the so elusive innovator nor the handkerchief flasher but the opportunist.

Nobody holds the key to your heaven of innovation but yourself. You don’t need to depend on anyone if you have the basics. Innovation really needs space and peace not disruption and stimulation from too much dose of the opportunists drugs of choice. You need to rebel and break barriers. You should have watched two Kenyans, Mwirigi and Mwai, pitch their ideas at Mobile Monday yesterday at iHub. I love the Mobile Monday idea and so much like the space and opportunity iHub gives young people. But look beyond the two. Don’t feel like you have arrived (direct translation from Luo)

These guys have great ideas and you could see that they were struggling in their thoughts with a very rigid system and a bunch of restrictive conditions placed by people and institutions which have parallel thoughts but they cant break free because of the few handouts they need to get from the opportunists. I was impressed by Mwai and I think that he is very creative in implementing various APIs. He has deep knowledge of what he does and the way he presents his creation like a virgin makes you realise that Mwai is a very young developer who will be raped by opportunistic VCs, Operators, Tech Wannabes, Lonely Researchers and handset makers whose selfishness knows no sanity. Mwai needs to retreat to his bunker, chat alot with friends who think outside the box and explore his creative mind without being forced into jalopies of systems, platforms and apps stores.

But the Nokia platform is simply primitive. When the system is primitive, you don’t need a primitive group of managers to manager the primitive system. Nokia’s key evangelists in Kenya are simply big mouths who have no single inspirational unique thing they have created. The case of Mwirigi also with Motogari’s app brings into focus the ills in Nokia’s OVI store and their “Relevancy Engine”. When you came to realise that both AoundMe by Mwai and Motogari (seems like it has been removed from the store) by Mwirigi were promoted by Nokia besides the “relevancy engine”, and the AoundMe managed a paltry 27,000 downloads and Motogari some 3,000 or so downloads, there must be a problem. You should check OVI store stats here and see why I say that any figure below 50,000 downloads for a promoted app should worry you. When apps are promoted by Nokia staff and also the “relevancy engine”, what happens? And why did Nokia start the OVI store?

Nokia started the OVI store to boost smartphones sales and earn revenue. Apple’s App Store was started when developers requested the company to give them a way to make apps and earn from the success of the device. That is why you will see Nokia promote even the most useless of apps to the top and so spoiling the feel of the OVI store. In the OVI store, it is very hard to find a useful app. Try using Need For Speed Shift on iPhone (and I mean any iPhone) and then try it on even Nokia N8. The feel, the response, the oomph and the thrill of the app is just not there. The backwardness of such a system is why you will even find that despite Angry Birds being free on OVi store, it just is not as addictive and great to play as in Apple’s iPhone. Try playing the same on any good Android phone. Don’t try it on jokes of phones like IDEOS (btw…. it is a good one but only for students).

I believe that to be a developer it means that you have the brains and the education to succeed. Research widely online. Be an opportunist. Learn the martial arts of surviving in software development and general tech scene. You will need the mental kung-fu in beating rapists who are mostly the VCs, Operators and Handset makers. Push the boundary and when you receive only grants and sell no app, ditch the profession. You might end up just like the diaspora raised lots of funds and have been giving deadlines which they will never meet. Be your own man/woman. And don’t think that when an operators rapes you and we tell you that you should be careful then we are haters. Even the boys who were being sodomised by Fr Kizito thought that they were in heaven.

I have spoken my mind. You decide. It is a free society.



  • Erickadhola2010

    I am not a developer but a kin follower of the goings on in the tech industry in Kenya.When i weigh into the topic i think our failing here is getting the right tech incubators and tech venture capitalist to fund our innovation seeds.The “BIG BOYS” will always do what they do best “rape” what our innovators here have come up with twist them and patent them in Europe.How many projects initiated by Intal,Microsoft,Cisco have failed in the Education sector in Africa,Countless yat governments still buy into their bile.
    The latest bieng the Cisco/safaricom project.
    We need to be our own keepers because without our own drive and intiative we shall not move but only “copy paste”

  • Smmynjoroge

    While i agree that most VC’d dont care about the developer i disagree with your stance that developers should work out everything on their own. I believe there are two ways for an idea to succeed,
    1. You either put in a lot of time and stress over it and after X years you break even. OR
    2. You put in a lot of money and you reduce time X significantly and work under different rules – possibly someone elses

    Developers should stop guarding their ideas(babies) as if its the only thing they’ll ever do in life, a real developer sees a good idea that can be implemented in everyday life. If a VC offers you a stepping stone, stand on it even if they take up half your company they have the capability to take it further than you can – even better, the VC has money in it so why would they allow the idea to fail. Take the deal, stick for 3 years, leave with your X million valuation and start your nest startup

    Every organization out there opted for VC!!! -Its business

    Am thinking i’d rather own 10% of the current Google (Gmail+adsense+android+youtube) etc than own 100% of a company that would still be licensing its awesome search abilities to Yahoo

    • charles okwiri

      i dont agree with this…VC’s are the reason why most tech ideas don’t experience longevity,they throw in money and bring in corporate mambo jambos effectively distracting the original goals of the app lacing it with board room politics .a successful app should first of all provide a solution,from that point on wards it will sell itself .the problem is people don’t want to start some point its true you will sell some stakes but the trick is stay long enough and only cut deals that solves specific problems/shortcomings and not selling your soul for the money.the techi who stays longer before cutting deals will ultimately own a big stake when the real money checks in.

  • Anonymous

    Thats a fair assessment.
    We agree on one thing, Mwai was the star there. He is very creative and he will go very far

  • Clayton Ongige

    Goodness gracious!! (In a Jeff Koinange overtone)

    Strong words here but I think the main thing that we need to address is the fact that the local market has no recognition of the concept behind the app, this can be attributed to the irrelevance of most locally driven initiatives. The ‘awareness’ of technology is a preserve of a few and that is the reason behind low sales. Characters trying to manipulate the developer base should first and foremost find out how we can drive more recognition / relevance of the technological capability of handsets through what apps can really offer to the ‘local’ market.

    Nokia is firefighting here in order not to lose a dominant position in the smartphone / handset market in Africa, this is in the event of successful players (Apple / Android) in the developed countries deciding to make a serious foray into this territory, so really if there are some weaknesses in the Ovi store it is to be expected. All in all ‘homegrown’ solutions must target local problems, not reproduce foreign successes. Look at MPESA a flop in the foreign market but locally a phenomenal success. It is not a one size fits all scenario. Learn the market needs, deliver to the same and we can then begin to build on something. BTW, great blog Mr. Alai, very vibrant and regular updates.

  • TefoMohapi

    I just came across this, I echo similar sentiments here —> Technology Startup[ Porn 2.0 http://localhost:8888/oldTC/2011/04/19/avoid-opportunists-and-mind-rapists-in-the-kenyan-innovation-scene/