February, 2015


Reverse engineering an android application

Tech Trend, Workshops

February 27, 2015

On the February edition of #TechTrend 2015, Samuel Kihahu ( Security Engineer) affiliated to Infosec Kenya and Africa Hackon was the guest speaker.
This was a follow-up edition to Solomon Jade’s edition of GSM security during September 2014 #Techtrend

TechTrend is an m:lab East Africa initiative that focuses on technology trends in the mobile developer world and mentoring sessions for upcoming mobile developers by incubated startups, individuals or established tech companies.

Security is a major concern to the world today. It affects data’s:


  • Confidentiality
  • o

  • Integrity
  • o

  • and Availability

Samuel took the devs through a step-by-step process where they were able to return their .apk files (android compiled program) back to .jar file using dex2jar and jdgui
The full presentation can be found on his blog.
Most developers have always thought their applications were full proof after compiling to .apk
It’s thus necessary for developers to always secure their code through:


  • Obfuscating code
  • o

  • Protecting one’s API’s
  • o

  • Encrypting data at rest/ at transmit
  • o

  • Always filtering user data


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John Kieti Transitions from the m:lab

Incubation, PIVOT East

February 23, 2015

In 2011 a consortium comprising of iHub, eMobilis, University of Nairobi (school of computing and informatics) and the World Wide Web Foundation were awarded the infoDev (a program of the World Bank) grant to set up mlab East Africa. John Kieti took up the challenge to setup and run programs at the m:lab from the consortium. With the four years, he has managed to build the m:lab East Africa and PIVOT East names into strong brands as regards to mobile innovations and start-ups among other achievements.
John will be leaving his position as the Director of m:lab East Africa from March this year to pursue his doctoral studies at the University of Nairobi. “Looking back four years, its been a great experience, sometimes a roller coaster ride – a great thrill, but very importantly; a learning experience for me” said John.
According to John, the m:lab has great prospects! “The board and team I leave behind are great! Building on our successes and failures will open a new chapter for the m:lab and its affiliates for its prosperity in the next couple of years,

John Kieti and the team at Panari Hotel during PIVOT East 2014

John Kieti and the team at Panari Hotel during PIVOT East 2014

“I shall remain a strong exponent for tech startups in the region. Perhaps I shall also drink more water than wine in an economic space where entrepreneurial ventures are our best chance for emancipating our masses from poverty and injustice” he said
John shared his own reflections on the success and failures of his four year tenure in a blog article.
The team at m:lab is very grateful to have worked with John Kieti. He has been a great teacher, mentor, leader and boss – all rolled into one. He has inspired us in so many ways and for that we are very grateful. We wish him well in all his endeavors.

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Graduation Ceremony for Past Windows Trainees


February 20, 2015

One of m:lab East Africa’s core activity is mobile application development and entrepreneurship program. The lab has partnered with key stakeholders in the ecosystem to offer individuals an opportunity to hone their skills on mobile applications technologies.This is in line with the m:lab’s mission “to facilitate demand-driven innovation by regional entrepreneurs, ensuring that breakthrough low-cost, high-value mobile solutions can be developed and scaled-up into sustainable businesses that address social and economic needs,

Left: Ken Mwenda the managing director eMobilis, Linet one of the trainee and Annie Njenga the Innovations Hub Manager Microsoft

Left: Ken Mwenda the managing director eMobilis, Linet one of the trainee and Annie Njenga the Innovations Hub Manager 

For the past one year, m:lab East Africa in partnership with Microsoft 4Afrika initiative, has been running the Windows training program for developers wishing to advance their skills on the Windows platform. From the time it was initiated, the program has seen over 100 students trained to develop on the windows platform.
On 19th, m:lab East Africa in partnership with Microsoft held a graduation ceremony in honor of the qualified students from the past Windows trainings. The graduation saw 57 past windows trainees who successfully completed the program and 29 appstars awarded certificates in Windows Application development.
Kunle Awosika the Country Manager of Microsoft addressing past windows trainees during graduation

Kunle Awosika the Country Manager of Microsoft addressing past windows trainees during graduation

The graduation ceremony was graced by top officials from Microsoft, with the key guests being; Kunle Awosika, Country Manager of Microsoft, Ken Mwenda the Managing Director of eMobilis and a member of the mlab consortium and Agosta Liko the founder and CEO Pesapal and Ticketsasa among other guests.
With youth unemployment being a major challenge in Kenya, Microsoft is addressing the unemployment issue by empowering the youth with the necessary skills to develop mobile applications, said Kunle Awosika. Microsoft has also created an IP Hub (t/ ) to help the developers protect their ideas.
Agosta Liko the founder and CEO of PesaPal sharing his entrepreneurial journey with past windows trainees

Agosta Liko the founder and CEO of PesaPal sharing his entrepreneurial journey with past windows trainees

Agosta Liko the founder and CEO of PesaPal shared his entrepreneurial journey with the past windows trainees, how they started Pesapal and ticketsasa and the lessons they have learnt. According to Agosta,the greatest lesson he has learnt over the years is that it takes time to build a business. Education, Experience and Exposure is the Formula for Success

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Tanzania's Ubongo Kids Makes learning More Fun and Interactive


February 4, 2015

There is a big need for education content that is interesting, interactive and relevant to the learners hence the popularity of startups such as Ubongo kids from Tanzania. Ubongo kids is an interactive edu-cartoon that teaches math through fun animated and catchy songs.
Founded in July 2013, Ubongo Kids creates fun, localized edutainment for learners in Africa using the simple technology that they have. The startup help learners understand concepts, rather than memorizing them and they use catchy songs and captivating imagery to make sure they never forget.
The startup broadcasts in Kiswahili on TBC (Tanzania’s national TV station) and digital TV (Star Times) across East Africa however they are working on the English version which will be released towards the end of the year. Viewers can interact live via SMS while they watch, answering multiple choice questions about what they’ve just watched and receiving feedback from their favorite cartoon characters.
Since January 2015, the startup has had 1.4 million unique viewers with over 600,000 viewers every Saturday on TBC. The show is broadcasting in 4 other East African countries namely; Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi.

Ubongo Kids team receiving an award after winning PIVOT East 2014 in the Mobile Entertainment category.

Ubongo Kids team receiving an award after winning PIVOT East 2014 in the Mobile Entertainment category

Last month, Ubongo was named among the two startups that won seed investment of USD $75K from Pearson. The startup was also a winner in PIVOT East 2014 in the mobile Entertainment category. PIVOT East is a regional startup competition and conference held annually since 2011.
The startups has attracted partnerships from organizations like; TBC1, NTV, Startimes, Tigo, Edume, BuniTv, YouTube Edu among others.

Ubongo Kids is hoping to release their first digital book and DVD in 2015 and also add a radio series and an Android application. They are also building an interactive mLearning platform in partnership with Edume and also hoping to launch Ubongo Kids English this year.
For more information and update on Ubongo Kids, visit their website, like their page on facebook and follow them on twitter @UBONGOtz. You can also watch the episodes on their Youtube channel.

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Getting started with Ushahidi Platform

Tech Trend, Workshops

February 4, 2015

Ushahidi is free and open-source software (LGPL) for information collection, visualisation, and interactive mapping. It came to be in the aftermath of Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election. Ushahidi collected eyewitness reports of violence reported by email or text messages and placed them on a Google Maps.
The Ushahidi platform is built on the Kohana web framework and includes support for Nexmo wholesale SMS API and Clickatell SMS Gateway.It also provides the option of using OpenStreetMap maps in its user interface, but requires the Google Maps API for geocoding.
The organisation uses the concept of crowdsourcing for social activism and public accountability, serving as an initial model for what has been coined as “activist mapping”—the combination of social activism, citizen journalism and geospatial information.
On the first edition of #TechTrend this year, Angela from Ushahidi gave developers an overview on how to get started with Ushahidi platform. She gave a hands-on experience on how to install, plugins that can be used and new features included in their latest release.
You can download the ushahidi platform or use it cloud based at
Feel free to also improve the Ushahidi code base by writing code, building plugins/extensions, and strengthening it against vulnerabilities. The documentation can be found at their WIKI page

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Revised rates for our mobile testing facility

Mobile Testing

February 4, 2015

3 years ago, we launched our mobile application testing services to the developer community in Nairobi.
For the last one and a half years the facility has been accessed for free during our partnership with Qualcomm. Over 2170 hours of application testing time has been spent in the facility by developers so far. Developers within have also checked devices out of the facility for a cumulative approximate of 1400 days.
We have learned a lot and we have considered many factors on how to improve our testing services and achieve sustainability. It is based on those considerations that we are revising the rates for time at the testing room as follows :-
Rate Plan A – mLab Community
Free access to devices in the testing room for the first hour then for any additional time, a rate of Ksh 200 per person per hour. This plan is only applicable to members of the m:lab community which includes; past trainees, past incubated startups, iHub Red & Green Members, students of University of Nairobi School of Computing and Informatics, students of eMobilis Academy.
For the rest of the app developers in the greater mobile ecosystem, the charge is a flat rate of Ksh 200 per hour.
m:lab East Africa current incubation clients continue accessing devices in the testing facility as part of their client package.
Rate Plan B – Corporates
A rate of Ksh 500 per hour per person. This applies to developers from corporate companies who wish to use the testing facility.

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Windows trainees to graduate


February 3, 2015

For well over a year now, m:lab East Africa in partnership with Microsoft 4Afrika, has been running a Windows training program for developers wishing to hone their skills on the Windows platform. From the time it was initiated, the program has seen four successful classes, the fifth beginning shortly, and over 100 students trained to date.
Out of the success from the program, m:lab East Africa will hold a graduation ceremony in honor of the qualified students, on the 19th of February, 2015 which will take place at the iHub from 8.30 am-12.30pm.
Check out some of the apps that came form the trainings here.

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