IAP Africa: The future entrepreneurs of Kenya

Kenya IAP 2011 Blog

Written by: Anshul Bhagi

Jan. 21, 2011

There are a total of 21 students in the Android course we're running here in Nairobi. All of these students are Masters students who have been selected for an innovative, new 2-year graduate degree in "Telecommunications, Innovation, and Development" at Strathmore University. Over the course of their two-year Masters program, which is sponsored by Safaricom (the leading network provider in Kenya), these students will learn Java, SMS, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry, and through the 3-week course we're currently teaching here, Android technology.

As far as I know, the 21 students in our course are the first 21 college students in Kenya to learn Android  -- and that's a pretty big deal! Android hasn't yet hit Kenya the same way as it has in the US, and nobody teaches the platform at the school or college level. The doors are wide open for these 21 students, and the opportunity to start successful businesses around Android applications that provide meaningful services to local Kenyans is immense.

During the Android + entrepreneurship course, we have tried to drive this realization into the students -- if they are able to master Android technology, build impactful mobile apps, and seize the business opportunity that lies ahead of them, they will undoubtedly be successful CEOs,  founders, and innovators by the time Android devices take hold in Kenya.

Currently, the cheapest Android phone sold in Kenya is 8,500 shillings (~100 USD), and according to Google representatives  in Nairobi (with whom we met and spoke earlier this week), that price is likely to drop to 5,000 shillings (~60 USD) within a few years. At that price-point, Android smartphones will become more affordable than the cheapest smartphones made by Nokia (presently the leading phone manufacturer in Africa, with > 63 % market share in East Africa).

This is heartening news for Google as well as for our 21 students, who, if they play their cards right, could end up being the future successful entrepreneurs and innovators of Kenya.