Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates

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Kubatana’s Freedom Fone open source project wins award

The Kubatana initiated open source project, Freedom Fone, won an award for Innovation in Media technology at a ceremony organized by the Index on Censorship. The award category recognized Kubatana for innovation and original use of new technology to circumvent censorship and foster debate, argument or dissent. The category is supported by popular web giant, Google.

SHA’s first five months – an interview with the founder

Some five months ago, in November, Webdev, the company behind Zimbabwe’s successful online classifieds site, launched a social network and named it SHA. They were not the first to try social networking locally; there have been many ‘local’ social networks already. All of them open source projects like JomSocial, SHAretronix, BuddyPress, elgg themed for the local audience. SHA’s not much different in that respect, but unlike other such projects, SHA’s is owned by an internet company that already has heavy visibility and multiple platforms to showcase its products in Zimbabwe’s internet space.

eTXT Apps Challenge launch: FMNA founder presents on building successful startups

Last night, ForgetMeNot Africa launched the eTXT Apps Challenge in Harare at a JumpStart event attended by developers, tech entreprenuers and journalists. While the highlight of the night was the launch of the challenge itself (read more about the challenge here) , we found the presentation by ForgetMeNot Software Founder and Director of Technology, John Carroll, quite inspiring.

biNu reveals usage stats; top biNu apps in top biNu using countries

We got pointed a few days ago to some biNu usage statistics that have been released by mobile platform Australian startup. The stats show the top 10 countries by usage on biNu as well as the top 10 apps in those countries.

The Internet and the declining newspaper readership in Zimbabwe

Almost a month ago, the Zimbabwe All Media and Products Survey (Zamps) released the results of a quarterly newspaper readership survey that the organisation carries out. The results are the for the last quarter of 2011 and according to reports in the media, the survey results showed that print news readership in Zimbabwe has started to decline. While reports refer to the decline as ‘modest’, the writing on the wall is clear, news consumption as we know it has changed.

Iroko Partners pumps up the volume with $8 million in fresh funding

Jason Njoku’s one and a half year old outfit has raised the bar for Sub Saharan African startups. Iroko Partners is charging ahead with its vision to put Nigerian entertainment online. Pando Daily published a post yesterday, revealing that the Lagos based startup had bolstered its war chest by way of two $4 million rounds. The funding came from Silicon Valley and emerging market stalwarts, Tiger Global.

A brief on the Microsoft Developer Day in Harare

Microsoft held it’s much awaited Developer Day two days ago on at the Harare International Conference Centre. It was quite impressive how they catered for techies and non-techies who seemed to be the majority of the attendants. One of the strongest remarks made in the early moments of the event was “In Africa, the challenges we are facing are our biggest advantages”.

Why mobile operators should consider startup funding in Africa

Paul Graham, Founder of the Y Combinator incubation hub once spoke of the ingredients required to create Silicon Valley. He summed it up as a combination of:

Rich people (angel or VC investors) + Nerds (talent)

ICT sector investment opportunities in Zimbabwe and Africa

I recently attended the NEPAD Business Foundation Implementing ICT Projects in Africa Workshop and the Zimbabwe Investment and Trade Conference. It was interesting to note that the message on ICT had a common theme.

eTXT now app platform as ForgetMeNot Africa launches App Challenge

You’ve probably used eTXT a number of times. If not you then at least someone you chat with on Facebook, on Gtalk or just someone you exchange emails with has used the service from a basic SMS only (no internet) mobile phone to communicate with you. ForgetMeNot Africa, the company behind the eTXT platform, has […]

Aptics enters market with promise of affordable broadband and VoIP

About 2 weeks ago a new Internet Access Provider called Aptics started advertising VoIP telephony and ‘4G’ services in the local newspapers. We have tried the Aptics broadband internet before for our primary connection at the office, but then, the company was still providing services primarily through ISPs ZOL and Yo Africa. The company is now going to market directly in addition to the partnerships. We visited them a few days ago to get the full story on what the company is offering and what you the reader should expect and indeed if you should be excited. launches new look

If you have visited in the last two weeks, you probably noticed that the website is spotting a fresh new look. The website has been redesigned, again. We can’t remember the exact number but the website must have gone through about 4 design changes in the last few years.

Zambian mobile money startup closes US $4 million Series A investment

So what are you meant to think when you start a business with your brother in 2007 and at the start of 2012, you are part of a committed team of 25 employees that close a $ 4 million deal with three world class international fund. Seriously, (four million dollars, thirty two million rand, twenty billion kwacha) for an “African/Zambian” IT start up business

Crowdsourcing gaining momentum in Africa

Crowdsourcing in recent years has gained significant traction around the globe. The premise behind it is the concept of maximizing or utilising masses of individuals to solve a large problem. The most visible and popular application of crowdsourcing is Wikipedia; the free collaborative online encyclopedia which relies on volunteers all around the world and now has over 20 million articles in English in the encyclopedia.

You can build a startup in Africa. Here’s how

In 2011 Sarah Lacy, who was working at Techcrunch at the time but is now running a new tech blog known as Pandodaily, did the unthinkable by travelling to Nigeria on a mission to unravel its startup scene.

Umuntu shares more information about Mimiboard. Our brief thoughts

We first got information about Mimiboard from the Umuntu founder, Johan Nel, some 9 days ago. Nel was to later announce the new service which at the just ended Mobile Web East Africa in Nairobi. Nel says they’ve had developers working for 7 months, to come up with the product , which he say is going to be “a game changer in the African market.”

Esoko seeks Zimbabwe partners

Ghanaian based mobile agri-business service platform startup Esoko, is seeking partners in Zimbabwe to extend its services to the country. In a request for tender published in Zimbabwe’s newspapers over the last several days, Esoko has invited local companies to apply to run Esoko in the country as ‘Prime Licensees’.

Dhiri suspends daily deals service to ‘regroup’

Zimbabwe’s daily deals startup suspended sending out daily deals last Friday, apparently so they can ‘regroup’ and come back stronger. The startup sent out a tweet and a Facebook update on Friday advising it’s followers they were taking a short break that will last a couple of weeks.

The FinX website and email service go down

If you are a FinX subscriber and you somehow didn’t get your usual email news updates this morning, you’re not alone. The service is having problems today. We just got notified this morning by the FinX managing director, Nyaradzai Chigwida, that the service is down and that the FinX team is working to restore things.

Perspective: Africa’s top 20 startups as ranked by Forbes

The February edition of Forbes Africa has a feature profiling the top 20 startups from the African continent. As expected, mobile played a dominant role with Mxit coming up tops as the most promising startup. In the truest sense of the word startup, Mxit might not qualify as it went through institutional investors and is more than seven years old. Definitions and valuations aside, the geographical origins of the startups profiled serves as yet another call to action for those of us in Zimbabwe.

Apps4Africa Climate Challenge for Southern Africa begins today

Today, 1 February 2012, is the commencement date for the southern Africa region Apps4Africa Climate Challenge. The challenge will run for 2 months to end of the 30th of March and invites African innovators to develop innovative, web-based and mobile technology solutions to local climate change challenges. According to the Apps4Africa website the challenge centers around the strategic themes that were debated and decided upon by world leaders at the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) conference in South Africa last year. The challenge is sponsored by the US government.

Our information technology predictions for 2012

Another exciting year in information technologies lies ahead with a lot of promise for the continued growth of the sector. Below, we provide our thoughts on what we think 2012 holds. It would be great to know what you the reader think in the comments.

The top Zimbabwe tech stories we covered in 2011

With less than two days left before the close of the year, we thought we’d post a listing of all the top stories we covered this year. This has been our busiest year since.

Digital music sales in Zimbabwe. Taking it to the next level

Online music stores have been on the rise globally and continue to gain momentum. Selling music files on a per-song, albums and/or subscription basis at lower prices has become a phenomenon. Online music stores such as iTunes and Amazon MP3are now the biggest music retailers in the US, selling almost 25% of all music in the US. This represents opportunities for businesses in developing ICT markets like Zimbabwe and can help revive the countries’ music industries which have been on a downward spiral.

iZimbabwe announces business directory

Yesterday, iZimbabwe, the new portal by Umuntu media announced the availability of a business directory platform on their website. Business directory means online classifieds in the mould of the Zimbabwe’s leader of online classifieds

Dhiri launches. First dhiri: Half price pizza at Pizzazz

It is 01 December 2011. D-day for Dhiri. The new startup promised two weeks ago they’d launch today. And launch they have, with their first daily deal sent to subscribers on email and SMS:

Now you can Tweet for a cab in Harare

So, how do you currently call for a cab in Harare when you need one? Give the cab driver a call? An SMS? Does it cost you airtime every time to do this? Do you always get a response on time? If you have a smartphone, (or just a regular internet connection at a desktop) there’s a new service in town you might want to give a try. It’s called Tweet-A-Cab.

A new local daily deals site called Dhiri to launch

If you’re one to keep your ear on the ground about new local web based services you’ve probably already heard about You guessed right, it’s a local deal-of-the-day site offering discounts on products available at merchants. The site is by C2 Media, a local creative digital agency with offices in Harare, and in Australia.

Webdev launches its social network. Names it SHA

Last week, Webdev opened its social network to the public. The name Social has been discarded in favour of a shorter and simpler SHA is short for the ‘Shamwari’, the Shona word for ‘friend’. There’s already some activity on the site, and I have received a few friend requests from some familiar faces. Selling the Dream

This post is by Mukela co-founder, Tawanda Sibanda, was originally posted on Launching Tech Ventures. It contains Mukela’s experience selling their idea to Hotels locally. Some great advice in there for tech start-ups. Mukela won the the inaugural ZOL Start-up Challenge in September this year.