African Techies Need to Look Beyond Microsoft and Nokia for Next Innovations

Microsoft and Nokia have controlled computing and telephony lives of African for the longest time ever. Despite this dominance, not much linkages and relationships which benefit both the African techies and the vendors have been built.

I find it odd that we must continue depending on Microsoft and Nokia while Microsoft never saw it best to build platforms where developers in Africa can create solutions and make money. Instead, Microsoft sought to colonise Africa by even trying to create end user applications for businesses which it could have had the developers create.

When Microsoft introduced its much sought after certifications in Africa, they mainly concentrated on teaching students how to install Microsoft software and not on how to create solutions which might interest anyone. Competing application on the Windows platform have not been appreciated with Microsoft bundling Windows with every suite they see will face challenges from developers. Microsoft has tried to do everything instead of creating platforms where the where the food-chain is beneficial to everyone.

For starters, Microsoft suites still cost way beyond the means of many Africans. That is why piracy in the continent for Windows solutions is way about 75% on average. The continent is hooked on the solution like it is some drug but few smart Africans have started moving to open source or Apple’s iOS platform which has few users bbut developers make good money from the platform.

Microsoft’s partnership with Nokia to deploy the next mobile computing ecosystem is getting jammed by a fumble here and there. I doubt if this quest will achieve much because both companies still have their minds on the gutter in regards to what the current user wants. Both companies believe that glossy software and hardware will do the trick. That worked in the initial stages of mobile revolution but will not work now.

Connection has been initiated and so the two companies must not try to develop the next social media which they can control. What users need is a plug to the existing platforms with little tweaks here and there. Re-invention of the wheel is going to be an exercise in futility.

Tell me African techies, what has Microsoft done to you? What changes have Microsoft made to have you utilise the Windows platform, which you have been loyal to since the advent of computers, to make money. What has Nokia – which dethroned the likes of Motorola, Sagem and Siemens to become the African phone of choice- done to you? How many Africans are making money from platforms controlled by Nokia and Microsoft? Why should Microsoft pretend that they are having a marriage of convenience which looks doomed from the word go and we should support them?

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

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