We know that many will argue that South Africa leads social media, in Africa, because of MXit. Afterall, Google is locating one of its major incubator events in South Africa, umbono, largely on the idea that MXit was born there. They made a point that MXit was created there and it was natural that South Africa becomes the seat to incubate the idea of the future.
Yes, South Africa is the largest economy in Africa. However, it is not the most innovative social media environment in Africa. We think that belongs to Kenya. Kenya is the undisputed seat of Africa’s social media innovation. They are creating Apps and most of these ideas have gone prime-time. Think of Ushahidi. Think of VirtualCity that won Nokia’s $1m prize. Kenya is full of ideas.
Tekedia has this opinion that what is helping Kenya is not their better education or schools, rather, they have a better incubation environment. The westerners prefer Kenya than any other African country for visits. If you visit Kenya, you will notice that most U.S. students that want study abroad programs choose Kenya. They visit there for short programs and in the process they seed ideas to the Kenyans. Relatively, it is a very peaceful place (discount the election crises that gave birth to Ushahidi). Generally, East Africa is perceived to be better than West Africa and that has affected the flow of traffic from US and European campuses.
In addition, we think Kenya has gotten better in bringing the girls into the tech world. In Nigeria, the boys still think they know better. But in Kenya, girls are winning top prizes.
Overall there were 37 ideas presented, out of which 18 teams was formed. All the teams worked hard over the weekend to present their products on demo event Sunday evening at Strathmore University in Nairobi.
The jury voted a girls team M-Farm as winners. M-Farm startup focuses on helping small farmers get the much needed information for distribution of their products to the market. The mobile application will allow a farmer get real time price information without having to deal with brokers, sell the products through mobile phone, get weather alerts, connect with other farmers, find nearest farm stores and get help from farm experts.
The ecosystem is great to allow participation of girls and boys in tandem. And this is what will help Kenya stay on top. We think that Kenya will run this show and most ideas for Africa will come from there. They are driven by passion and they are making progress, daily.
Kenyans have picked something from the playbook of the Chinese – you cannot progress without your girls. China has high literacy rate for girls than most nations. That means they get all the working age into the labor market. In most countries, those girls are not in. In Kenya, they have figured that out, at least in the social media circle where their tech girls beat the boys and that is good thing for Africa.
Kenya – the undisputed seat of Africa’s social media innovation has a lot of ideas ahead in store. Other nations must learn from it.