There's something magical about the word "Android" that immediately attracts the attention of any technologically literate crowd in Kenya.
Just through one press-release that read “Future Entrepreneurs of Strathmore: Android Project Showcase”, the first ever IAP-Africa program succeeded in bringing two big players in Kenyan media to the final event: KTN (Kenyan Television Network) and CIO magazine.
Though I'm no expert on Kenyan tv stations, a quick check on Wikipedia reveals that KTN is "the leading television station in Kenya."
The KTN reporter and cameraman that attended the project showcase captured the full event on video and were most interested in the ideas that the students had come up with and the Android app prototypes that they had created over the past three weeks. At the end of the event, the reporter spoke with representatives from Google and Safaricom about the future of Android in Kenya and then interviewed members from four of the seven student teams. KTN then played a 30-minute piece on Android, the Google-MIT-Strathmore-Safaricom partnership, and the social impact of our students' ideas that same evening on public television at 9:30pm.
On Saturday, the day I left Kenya for US (just one day after our final event + project showcase), I had a fairly long (2.5 hours) interview with the Chief Editor of CIO East Africa, a subsidiary of US-based CIO (http://www.cio.com/). The magazine targets business leaders in the IT space and provides insights on the latest technology trends, and in this case the magazine wanted to write an article about the advent and potential impact of Android in Kenya.
The CIO editor whom I spoke with was looking for answers to the following questions:
- What is the big deal about Android / What is it?
- How long until Android phones become affordable in Kenya?
- How can CIOs / CEOs make the most of Android technology in Kenya?
- What is the "IAP-Africa" program through which Strathmore's students learned Android?
- What's the story behind the MIT - Strathmore - Safaricom - Google partnership from which the "IAP-Africa" program was born? What does each of these groups gain from the program?
- What ideas did the 21 students in our course come up with, and would any of these ideas directly impact small businesses in Kenya?
- Right now in Kenya, employees are pushing their businesses to provide smart-phones simply so that they can have a better email/web browsing/SMS experience. But how can smart-phone platforms like Android be used to do more than just improve email/SMS, etc.? How can businesses use Android devices to actually simplify, economize, or facilitate business processes?
- How can the Android experts that we have trained through our course actually play a role in ushering in this revolution in business processes through Android technology?
The editor mentioned that she intended to write a 1-page article on these topics for the next issue of CIO East Africa, and I will definitely post a link to the article on this blog if / when I come across it.