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August, 2012
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M:Lab East Africa's Wave Four Trainees

Training

August 31, 2012

The following will be m:Lab East Africa’s fourth wave trainees: Jean Damascene Habanabashaka, Gibson Macharia, Joseph Kipkogei, Leonard Korir, David Bwire, Roger Gichuhi, Humphrey Mwaura, Kennedy Mbeva, Bernard Mwangi, Lawrence Macharia, Jacob Chencha, Harry Mghanga, Charles Mwaniki, John Kamau, Moses Kioko, Mary Gichohi, Daniel Kamau, Gaudencia Mose, Charles Tanu, Eric Yullu, Joseph Kuria, Alex Muriithi, James Ouko, Emmanuel Mwaka, Dannis Mbugi, Brian Onyango, James Biyogo and Muhammad Sebuliba. There admission in to the training was recommended by the m:Lab’s applicant selection panel. They applied for m:lab East Africa’s training through an online application done recently.The new students will join the program beginning on 3rd September,the program will run to December 31st 2012. The training is a full time course (9.30am – 3.30pm). Over 55 applications, from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda applied for the course. The applicants however had less that five ladies and only one made it

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to join the training. Past Trainees during their graduation The applicants were scored based on the following:

  • A description of their familiarity with software development technologies and methodologies, programming languages and application deployment channels.
  • What accomplishments have they made in software development, entrepreneurship, social good, and other areas that they intend to build on by going through the m:lab training.
  • Any ventures or activities they have undertaken or they plan to undertake upon completion of the course that best demonstrate their entrepreneurial instinct.
  • Academic background (They were to upload a copy of their CV, Degree Certificate or Final Year Transcript).

The training will be undertaken at m:lab East Africa’s premises(Bishop Magua Centre on Ngong road), within a training facility equipped with computers and high speed Internet connectivity. They will also have access to the Lab’s testing facility equipped with over 80 mobile devices from various manufacturers. The technologies covered in the training include USSD, android, J2me, php, mysql, LWUIT, Mobile Web , IVR, User Experience Design, SMS, Systems Design. They get to also cover entrepreneurship training on business for mobile, meant to improve their entrepreneurial skills.

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Reviewing mobile apps in agriculture targeting post harvesting challenges

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday, Workshops

August 27, 2012

During the third Wireless Wednesday on 27th June 2012, the developers’ apps got a chance to be reviewed by not only farmers but representatives from the biggest telecom company in East Africa, Safaricom. Safaricom was represented by Felix and Peter, who advised developers on what to consider while developing applications that are niche focused. They told the MAgric developers that they should identify the opportunity from the market by interacting with farmers and identifying the needs of the farmers so that they can envision the farmers using the application and make it easier for them. However they cautioned them, to note that solutions may be difficult to come by considering that the larger market is usually in the rural areas and issues of inaccessibility may arise. Safaricom’s Peter Gichangi

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Advices Developers on mAgric Apps This Wednesday 29th August 2012, mobile application developers, entrepreneurs, farmers, NGOs, Government representatives, and other stakeholders will discuss MAgric apps that handle post harvest challenges. The event is supported by USAID through DAI and organized by m: Lab East Africa, with an aim of encouraging interaction between developers/entrepreneurs and potential users of agricultural innovations using mobile tech platforms. The event will have in attendance: Rift Valley Provincial Crops Development Officer, Agricultural Officers from Eastern Province, Farmers from Coast, Western, Rift Valley and Central provinces among other stakeholders in the agricultural and Technology industry. The applications that will be reviewed are: Soko Huru: A mobile application that offers a platform for farmers and businessmen to market and buy farm products respectively. ContinuumStore: A mobile platform that allows multiple buyers and sellers to trade agricultural commodity-linked contracts based on agricultural market information. Dairy Sacco App: A mobile based credit tool modeled on agricultural cooperatives. The tool is most appropriate for cooperatives that provide inputs and merchandise to their members on credit against produce deliveries. Packhouse Manager: A desktop software program that makes it easy for exporters of fresh produce to easily manage their Farms, packhouses and Farmers that supply them with produce . Soko Shambani: An SMS platform that allows farmers of Potatoes to connect with buyers. ukulima.net: A farmers mobile social network product.

Registration for participation can be done HERE…. NB: there are limited slots available.

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m2Work Hackathon

Workshops

August 22, 2012

 

In order to bring mobile microwork ideas into life and to support aspiring mobile entrepreneurs on their track to establish sustainable businesses, we’ll be organizing, with the support of infoDev, a global m2Work Hackathon along with four other countries on September 15-16, 2012. At the event, talented ideators will have the chance to connect with fellow developers and build working prototypes with market appeal.

Visit the m2Work Hackathon’s official website here.
Earlier this year, infoDev and Nokia launched the m2Work Challenge, which yielded almost 1000 ideas on how to create jobs that people could do from many of the five billion active mobile phones in developing countries.
The next phase is to bring those ideas to life. Several challenge winners are deep in talks with national governments, angel investors, and fellow developers on how to improve and distribute their apps. To help the larger m2Work community turn their ideas into mobile microwork businesses, infoDev and its global partners are organizing the m2Work Hackathon in five sites across the world.

The m2Work Hackathon aims to:

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  1. Shape promising idea submissions into mobile application prototypes;
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  3. Bolster other prototype mobile microwork applications that qualify for pre-incubation support at infoDev’s Mobile Application Labs (mLabs), and
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  5. Increase awareness for the job-creating potential of mobile microwork in developing countries.

The local chapters of the event will be hosted by mLab East Africa (Kenya), mLab Southern Africa (South Africa), mLab ECA (Republic of Armenia), mLab East Asia (Vietnam), and mHub
Nepal.
To learn more about mobile microwork or get involved in the Hackathon, contact us at [email protected] and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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WIRELESS WEDNESDAY: Reviewing Mobile App in Agriculture that target Post Harvest Challenges

Agriculture, Wireless Wednesday

August 16, 2012

The fourth Wireless Wednesday focus group discussion on mobile innovations in agriculture is slated for 29th August 2012. The meetup for mobile application developers, entrepreneurs, farmers, NGOs, Government representatives, and other stakeholders is supported by USAID through DAI. It is organized by m:lab East Africa for the purpose of encouraging interaction between developers/entrepreneurs and potential users of agricultural innovations using mobile tech platforms.
The theme of the event is “Reviewing mobile apps in agriculture targeting post harvesting challenges”.
Demos before the event and short presentations will be conducted by the following :-

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  • Soko Huru by Kennedy Mwai
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  • ContinuumStore by Bill Allela
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  • Dairy Sacco App by Joram Kinuthia
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  • mFarm by Mfarm Ltd
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  • SokoShambani  by Stephen Kimiri
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  • Sokobora by mkala Zebedayo Maghenyi


Challenges encountered after harvesting include: storage, preservation, treatment, transport, packing, labour and marketing. Most farmers incur losses of perishable products because the systems of marketing are complex. By knowing the market, a farmer can judge how important the requirements of appearance, maturity and flavour for his produce are. Wireless Wednesday focuses on finding potential technological solution in agriculture along the value chain.
Reviewing applications that target post harvest challenges, gives developers necessary feedback to be able to develop mobile applications that are useful, easy to use and understandable to the end user. It gives them a platform to get insights and ideas of how to make apps that satisfy the needs of the users. Wireless Wednesday seeks to bring the different stakeholders in the agricultural sector to discuss innovations already in the market and to see whether they are applicable.
The upcoming event will take place from 10am to 2pm. The main focus group discussion session will be held from 12pm to 2pm. Farmers, extension officers and other practitioners in agriculture are invited to interact with innovators of the apps and to familiarise themselves with the apps’ features between 10am and 12noon.
Developers, farmers and representatives of NGOs, Government, Phone Manufacturers and mobile operators are invited to give their input to the discussion. Registration for participation can be done HERE…. NB: there are limited slots available.

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m:lab facilitates Advanced Training on Agile Software Methodology

Training

August 13, 2012

The Advanced training for managing scale-out of software projects which commenced at the m:lab East Africa premises on 30th July, ended on 7th August 2012. The training was carried out by ThoughtWorks and The World Wide Web foundation through m:lab East Africa. The entire course was aimed at aiding startup companies and corporate organizations address challenges faced in scaling-out software.DSC_0397-300x198 The training was attended by representatives from various companies in the software development sphere such as Mobile Planet, Virtual City, Fomobi, Mfarm, amongst others. The program comprised a series of highly practical but informative sessions where the students were engaged in relatively simple tasks with significant concepts tied to them.

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A huge emphasis was placed on The Agile methodology of Software Development- an approach which in more ways than one, has proven to have invaluable benefits over the traditional forms of development.

After an intensive seven-day program, the training was brought to a close by a mini-graduation ceremony where participants were each awarded with certificates of completion, courtesy of

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Thoughtworks and m:lab East Africa.

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A virtual community will be created by the participants to facilitate communication, promote the proliferation and exchange of ideas amongst themselves. It is the group’s intent to spearhead and promote the Agile movement in the Software Development sphere in Kenya, making it the de facto approach for the software production process. This group will be open for all who wish to be part of this revolutionary movement that seeks to bring positive change in software development. Follow us on social media to get more info on the group and how you can join.

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Free Mobile Apps Testing Slots at m:lab

Mobile Testing

August 9, 2012

m:lab East Africa is piloting program for mobile application developers to test their applications for free on Fridays. Under this program dubbed “Free Testing Friday”, developers can book upto 90 minutes on Friday to access devices in the Lab’s testing room. By booking 90 minutes of testing in the Testing facility, developers can access over 80 mobile devices to test their applications on a variety of platforms including Android, BlackBerry, J2ME, and Bada.

testing1The free testing pilot is open to all mobile application developers in Nairobi and in the larger  East African mobile ecosystem. This is aimed to present an opportunity to local developers to  thoroughly test their applications as they prepare to release them to the markets at no cost. The program is also aimed at further entrenching a culture of thorough testing and quality assurance among app developers

To benefit under this program, a developer must send a mail to [email protected] to book time for testing. Upon confirmation of the request, the developer is awarded a time slot, during which he/she may have access to the testing facility. One developer may not book multiple time slots on the same Friday. Developers may receive technical support, insights and advice from the m:lab team while testing their applications.
The testing facility at m:lab East Africa which whose operations started in Monday 28th November 2011, has seen over 1010 hours used by developers to test applications. According to statistics dated 27th July 2012, the most commonly demanded devices in the testing room are Samsung Galaxy Mini, Blackberry Curve 9300, Blackberry Curve 8520, Google Nexus One, and the Huawei Ideos U8150 in that order. The two most commonly tested mobile platforms are J2ME and Android. To see more statistics on testing at the facility, see earlier article posted here
On days other than Fridays, hourly testing rates apply as indicated in an earlier article posted here.

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Galaxy Pocket and SIII devices for Samsung developers

challenges

August 8, 2012

Samsung Kenya is in a partnership with m:Lab East Africa to enhance visibility and uptake of locally developed mobile apps. The upload drive through a randomized draw awards developers who publish applications through Samsung Apps with Samsung Galaxy Pocket and Galaxy S3 devices. 12 galaxy pocket devices have so far been won by developers. 4 more galaxy pockets and 2 S3 will be won in the third draw.
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Developers receiving devices in the previous draws
The third draw event will be on 24th August 2012, where 4 applications will win Samsung Galaxy Pocket devices in the mini draw and 2 applications will win Samsung Galaxy S3 each. For a developer to stand a chance of winning a Samsung Galaxy Pocket all they have to do is upload their application to the Samsung Apps Store. If their applications passes the Quality Control process (QC) then they stand the chance of winning the Samsung Galaxy S3.
To be eligible for the randomized draw developers need to do the following

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  1. Uploading the Application to Samsung Apps (Android, Bada or Windows Mobile platforms) in the Samsung App store, whereby you’ll be issued with a unique App ID.
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  3. Send an email with the Subject line “Samsung Apps” to [email protected] with Your Name, the Name of Application, and the application ID issued by the Samsung Apps system.

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Developers receiving devices
Apps that did not win in previous draws still qualify for the subsequent mini draws. The uploaded apps are bound to go through the Samsung Apps Quality Control process before they are published. In this process, if ones’ App is found to have any defect, it will be communicated to the developer with comprehensive documentation including a video of the test carried out. Only apps that are approved stand a chance of winning a Samsung Galaxy S3.
A step by step guide on how to upload applications to Samsung Apps can be found HERE.
The partnership between m:lab East Africa and Samsung in the local market has seen improvements in the Samsung Apps approach to the local market which included the recent activation of payments for apps whose developers charge a download fee.

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Samsung Apps now catering for paid downloads in Kenya

Mobile Testing

August 3, 2012

Mobile application developers can now receive payments for apps downloaded from the Samsung Apps market place in Kenya. This new development increases monetization options for developers in East Africa whose applications target the Kenyan Market. In our earlier article titled “Samsung Apps-Diversifying local App Distribution Options” in January, we noted the inability for developers to configure their apps for consumer to pay for downloads. The paid downloads feature improving this was activated in the Kenya market in June 2012.698px-Samsung_Logo-smallSamsung Apps has seen an increasing number of mobile developers from across East Africa uploading their Android apps. This has resulted from increasing realisation by developers that signing up to be publishers at the store is free. The increased number of developers publishing apps to Samsung Apps has also seen more developers comment on what they consider a superior Quality Control (QC) process with the store. They specifically observe shorter turnaround time once applications go into the QC stage in comparison to other app stores. Developers are also particularly impressed by the informative video they get from the store’s QC team on bugs and imperfections identified when the developers’ apps are tested.
Local applications in the Samsung Apps store include Mfarm, MedAfrica, mShop, uhasibu, Ololashe, and Nduru. To support the local developer community, Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics manufacturers supports local developer in creating awareness and visibility of their applications through mainstream media channels.

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