Tech Trend


How SAFE are you ONLINE? Come find out this Thursday

Tech Trend, Workshops

February 4, 2016

Internet connectivity has brought about a number of benefits. It enables us to socialise, shop, transact and do business. This brings about the aspect of sharing more and
more information online both personal and confidential. In the advent of the digital age, access to the internet is readily available due to the proliferation of smartphones and laptops. This has given rise to a cyber –savvy generation, one that communicates very frequently online.
With such great opportunities, comes great risk.
This week, TechTrend focuses on the real questions that need to be asked.


  • Are you safe online?
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  • If not, how best can you protect yourself online?
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  • Are there any laws governing cyber security in Kenya?
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  • What is the state of cyber security locally? How good or bad is it?
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  • Can we contribute to improving the local cyber security scene?

AfricaHackon seeks to build the local cyber security industry where practitioners, enthusiast and budding professionals have a platform to interact learn, grow, share ideas and experiences. In partnership with the m:lab, AfricaHackon will undertake a rigorous cyber security training to interested individuals. Attend this event to find out more about the training.
Venue: iHUB (Bishop Magua Building, 4th Floor – Ngong Road)
Date: 11th Feb 2016
Time: 5.00 – 7.30 pm
Register on the form below:

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"Hello, World!"

Tech Trend

December 16, 2015

Another year is almost gone, a lot has happened in the tech-world; amazing solutions/ breakthroughs, businesses have been established, startups created and a whole lot of programming languages born. Innovation is indeed the catalyst to growth of any emerging economies through the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets.

A “Hello, World!” program is a computer program that outputs “Hello, World!” It’s a very simple program in most programming languages, it is often used to illustrate to beginner  programmers the basic syntax for constructing a working program.

We are definitely living in interesting times seeing tech evolve everyday to offer us better, easier and simpler ways to perform our tasks. A few years ago it was the ‘e-kitus’, then came the ‘m-kitus’ and now we are living in the age of ‘smart-kitus’, each of them we have enjoyed in a span of very few years. They say software is to tech while blood is to humans; “Hello, World!” therefore is the beginning of a new world of opportunities and endless possibilities. In the same wavelength, President Obama enthused everyone by writing code during the Hour of Code campaign.
Having held TechTrend, a tech focused meetup for 2 years now, I am definitely convinced that there’s too much technology to talk about.  Having done this for a while, it feels like we haven’t even scratched the surface. In fact, one of the most frequent comment is that the older generation in Kenya can hardly put up with technology. They actually still do fear it and would prefer old ways of doing stuff deeming them safer. Innovation is a daily affair, there is so much R&D going on around the world and too many innovative ideas are being born daily. Diverse developers sitting in the iHub and m:lab East Africa spaces try out different emerging programming languages, coming up with what may be the next big thing. An example this year is Shop Officer – a platform that enables businesses to track their sales and manage reward programs for their customers easily – which was first presented at the NFC  TechTrend meetup by @techytimo, and has made him visit Nigeria and the Hague amidst winning prizes.
8 years ago, while choosing which course I would pursue in campus I found it funny that Maseno University would integrate IT regardless of the course one was taking. A few years ago a friend of mine who was pursuing Bachelors in Education at the University, was asking me about HTML code and I was quite impressed. With the different trends in technology should the government focus on teaching basic IT and programming to all and sundry?
The tech-scene in Kenya has grown to form biz-tech clusters (interconnected business that support each other)  These clusters are considered to increase the productivity with which companies can compete in a global economy. Start-ups depend on telcos for services, on incubation hubs and tech spaces for networking, services pegged on payment gateways that integrate Kenyan solutions and many other ways. These have catapulted the tech-scene so much that most of the businesses in focus during the mid-year Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya were tech-related. On a personal note it has made working at Bishop Magua building such a great opportunity because I often rubbed shoulders (along the corridors, lifts or stairs) with some of the best in the tech-field in Kenya.
After recently reading ‘Start-up Nation’ by Senor Dan I am beginning to understand the importance of tech-startups in the growing of an economy. Since it birth in 1947 till now, Israel has enjoyed growth due to focus on tech innovation and it is amazing how most of the visitors at m:lab East Africa always talk of their visits around the world, but mostly Silicon Valley. Kenya having been mentioned as an investment hub by Business Daily, part of the emerging business world by Fortune has much to do with recent efforts by the government to accelerate ICT, infrastructure and wooing investors.  
I once had a debate with someone who said we are too focused on tech startups while there are diverse industries out there. I agree, but having been fortunate to see businesses like KopoKopo and Eneza Education begin with  few founders to tens of employees (many of them not developers) proves that it’s not about tech, it’s about building sustainable solutions that create employment for all. A good product will require more salesmen than core developers in order to get its name out there, will require human resource personnel and administrators to deal with office issues, will need accountants to keep up with KRA and its tax requirements, and so on.


  • Should the government do more to help IT thrive in Kenya?
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  • Should we see a dedicated fund for IT startups and more recognition of their potential to change Kenya?
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  • Should more people be introduced to programming at an earlier age in order to tap talent from a tender age?

Well these are the thoughts running in my mind as we all seek for a better sustainable Kenya in the next years.

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Invitation to TechTrend: 'Local Hosting Environment' by Angani Limited

Tech Trend, Workshops

October 19, 2015

Theme: Local Hosting Environment – Is there a case for developers to embrace local Hosting; Synergies and Growth Opportunities for Local Developers.

Angani is Kenya’s first company dedicated exclusively to the provision of Public Cloud Services offering services to the entire Eastern, Central and Southern African Market. With its significant investment in infrastructure, Angani has virtualized this infrastructure and leases it out to you at a reduced rate, we take away the expense and headache of having to maintain your own IT infrastructure in-house. No more worrying about hardware procurement, power, cooling, upgrading, scheduled maintenance

Come and lets discuss:


  • Market Overview
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  • Opportunity in Local Hosting
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  • How being part of the Angani ecosystem can help you increase your revenue.
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  • Angani’s role in helping you rapidly increase your turn around time to market
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  • How to scope and price the opportunities.
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  • Growth Opportunities for Developers
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  • Platform as a Service for Developers
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  • Pricing and volume discounts.

All developers are invited. Register here.
Attending participants stand a chance to win FREE VM Ware.
Date:  29th October 2015
Time: 5.15 – 7.00pm
Venue: m: lab East Africa

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NFC: Can this technology be used to build a viable business in Kenya? (Part 2)

Tech Trend, Workshops

September 14, 2015

In June this year we had part 1 of NFC technology during #TechTrend discussion centered mainly on ‘tap to pay’ and why it did not pick up well in the matatu industry in Nairobi.
We set-up part 2 of the discussion on  NFC technology application focussing in loyalty and payments beyond use in the matatus.
Big players in the industry as well as startups are continually centering their businesses around this technology. Over the past few months we have seen a few big players leveraging on the technology notably; Google: Android Pay, Apple: Apple Pay  and Samsung: Samsung Pay. You can find summarised details on the above developments on this blog.

Near field communication (NFC) is a technology that enables smartphones and other devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching the devices together or bringing them into proximity to a distance of typically 10 cm or less.

We kicked off with the question whether Africa is ready for NFC. There were several opinions to this question. First it was noted that NFC is a worldwide trend not only unique to Africa. It might kick-off in a great way once people get accustomed to its use. It’s however only accessible to cluster of people who may afford phones that are NFC enabled.  A lot of people are still skeptical about using cards. There are however trends that are arising that people use a sticker behind their phones, wristbands and other wearables.
The other obstacle to the uptake of the technology is the uptake of POS systems to include NFC technology on a wider scale. Infact one of the developers noted that whilst rolling out his solution there was the need of a NFC reader to connect to a computer which proved cumbersome to one of his clients.
The ‘developer problem’ also arose. This is where enthusiastic developers are rolling out products but they end up pushing the technology instead of solution. The potential users therefore end up scared by use of terms like “Tap to Pay”, “NFC enabled” just to name a few, which they easily argue that it’s not secure since if anyone picks their card they can easily “tap” out all the money. This is also a major reason why card payments on matatu has not picked up at large scale even though high interest rates being charged to the matatu owners was also another reason.
Card Planet Solutions (incubated at m:lab East Africa) who recently launched their product Paykind; gave their experiences over the years and advised startups to partner with banks for legal purposes and to watch out for stakeholder problems e.g  under 18’s  having ‘bank’ accounts. This was after Lipacard did their great presentation showing their cashless wallet for students for different learning institutions.
Shopofficer a Mobile CRM for SMEs (Still at beta stage) also did their presentation showing how they integrate NFC technologies to offer loyalties solution to merchants. Using NFC is a new approach compared to barcodes or QR readers. One of the challenges noted with implementing the same platform for different merchants was the different views of the value of money amongst the stakeholders. e.g When a lady spends 500 at a salon it can be equated at 5 points while the same amount might be 0.5 points at a high-end cafe.

Watch out for the last (Part 3) NFC -Technology Techtrend in November as we plan to focus on home automation.

#NFC #TechTrend in attendance @sammasinde @MuhadiRodgers @alf_deetacs @drizzentic @vic_tua @shopofficer @harunm28 @agayanoic @STLmagana @mukira_g @eriqmonte @robert_oigo @lincxrossef @mikekivuva
Posted by m:lab East Africa on Thursday, September 10, 2015


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{RECAP} Can NFC technology be used to build a viable business product in Kenya?

Tech Trend, Workshops

June 2, 2015

Since the offset of NFC technology, several companies and startups have centered their businesses around this technology. We set-up this month’s #TechTrend Thursday edition to discuss NFC technology and its viability. Near field communication (NFC) is a technology that enables smartphones and other devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching the devices together or bringing them into proximity to a distance of typically 10 cm or less.

#TechTrend Thursday 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.

Several presumptions guarded the discussion:


  1. Why is it that most startups/companies that use NFC technology have been forced to change their business model especially in Kenya?
  2. o

  3. Does NFC technology have potential to disrupt economies like GSM or the internet; that have changed how the world does things or will just be another file sharing technology like its similar counterpart bluetooth?

Is NFC the next disruptive technology in Kenya or just a file-sharing utility? This was perhaps the most questionable presumption. Startups changing their business model; big industry players seem to struggle, was this a fair presumption or a myopic view of the capability of the technology?
In Kenya, one of the major ways people have interacted with the technology was in the introduction of cashless fare since the announcement mid last year after the partnership of the government and the matatu owners association (MOA). BebaPay (partnership with Google) was the first to get into the space followed by others like my1963, Equity Card, KCB Card among others. BebaPay however backed down a few years ago leaving the several banks and Safaricom to take-up the battle for the market share.
Its however been notable that the partnerships made between the players as well as the approach been taken involves combination of several technologies to make it work.This has been done in various ways like integration with MPESA, introduction of chipped NFC card, partnership with MasterCard and VISA for pre-paid cards including others. In my opinion however the uptake has not been as envisioned by the various players in the industry. So what went wrong?
Well, apart from file-transfer and money transactions, the technology has far more uses that have proved successful in other parts of the world other than what we seem to use it for here in Kenya. In London for example, the transport sector widely uses the technology.
Some of the universal uses of the technology include: purchase of items e.g.  Passbook on the iPhone and Google Wallet , inventory, retail, access control, smart posters, and other utility operations such as sensing and storing digital data. In attendance was a student from KEMU and Strathmore who shared how they use NFC enabled cards for access control at the gate, library or dining hall.
Different suggestions pointed out that the matatu industry, as much as the potential was great, was the wrong go-to market to introduce the technology. Some of the general factors include fear that came about with ‘tapping’ to pay; as well as different socio-economic problems like touts syphoning money from the matatu owners and corruption.
Security has also been one of the greatest challenges when it comes to uptake of the technology, but has been countered by adding layers of security through apps that allow authentication.
In regards to Kenyan startups using the technology, it was true that they have been forced to change their business models so as not to totally depend on NFC technology. Most startups however are still in the pilot stage and we can’t therefore downplay the technology as a whole.
NFC readers that can print out receipts are also quite expensive for many startups who would wish to role out on wide-scale. The startups were also challenged not to limit themselves to NFC on cards but also think of ordinary forms of things we carry daily like wristbands, keyholders and stickers e.t.c.
One of the startups also pointed out that NFC technology is not a ready-to-use technology and therefore costly to hire programmers to build a stable solution/product.

#TechTrend Thursdays May Edition attendees discussing:Can NFC technology be used to build a viable business product in Kenya?
Posted by m:lab East Africa on Friday, May 29, 2015

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NFC: Can this technology be used to build a viable business in Kenya?

Tech Trend, Workshops

May 22, 2015

“Economies around the world are either factor driven, efficiency driven or innovation driven ”as derived from
Since the offset of NFC technology several companies & startups have centered their businesses around this technology in Kenya. Card PlanetGigwapi, Buymore BebaPay (exited a few months ago), my1963, including others.

Near field communication (NFC) is a set of ideas and technology that enables smartphones and other devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching the devices together or bringing them into proximity to a distance of typically 10 cm or less.

The companies & startups that have based their business model on the technology have had several challenges due to limitations of the technology as well as the Kenyan mentality regarding how the technology is being rolled out.
mlab_logo_simpleCan this technology be used to build a viable business in Kenya? Come, lets discuss this topic on the May edition of TechTrend.
Venue: mlab East Africa
Time: 5.15 – 6.30 pm
Date: 28th May 2015
Click here to register

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Open discussion: PHP Raw vs PHP Frameworks

Tech Trend, Workshops

March 27, 2015

This month’s edition of #TechTrend Thursdays took a different approach where everyone was a key discussant on the topic above.
In June of 1995, Rasmus Lerdorf released the source code for PHP Tools to the public, which allowed developers to use it as they saw fit. Twenty years later, PHP has really grown to have a great market share in the web. Its used by some of the most common CMS like Joomla and WordPress, and by some of the most common frameworks.
However, there have been several debates as to whether PHP Raw/ Custom PHP is actually better than using PHP frameworks or viceversa.

Why Raw PHP is better than a Framework


  • It’s faster as it doesn’t have the framework library overhead
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  • You’re not bound by someone else’s rules or concepts
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  • You can add in as many or as few 3rd party libraries as you choose
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  • You can write to your own standard
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  • You can license it as you choose
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  • You build your own philosophy of the project
Advantages of frameworks


  • Less Duplication of Code
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  • Clear & Thorough Documentation
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  • Built-in Libraries and Helpers
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  • Easy Error Handling
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  • Security and Encryption
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  • It comes pre – loaded with different very useful classes

#TechTrend Thursdays 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.
 The following were the key discussion points:


  • Frameworks have bugs and most of the time unnecessary overcomplicated, we roughly get to use only 10% – 15% of their features.
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  • It takes less time to do a project while using framework
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  • There too many frameworks and each has its own strengths hence still takes time to learn them
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  • Is anyone building on raw php actually building his own custom framework?
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  • Is it true you can’t actually claim to be a guru if you don’t know how to code raw?

Different lines of thought were raised by some of the best developers in the ecosystem.Two main points that came out boldly were that:


  • Even though coding raw gives you a sense of control and code philosophy that you understand and is suited for your needs, a problem arises when someone else has to join in the project because of the learning curve involved.
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  • Even though there many frameworks, each with its own strenght and weakness; their code is contributed by the best minds in the world and hence could be way superior to a custom made framework.

We also go to know of some projects in the ecosystem that the public can use and contribute code to:
 Michael Pedersen | PesaPi –
Kago Kagichiri | USSD –

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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
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  • Integrity
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  • 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
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  • Protecting one’s API’s
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  • Encrypting data at rest/ at transmit
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  • Always filtering user data


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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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Top 10 list of most disruptive technologies in Kenya in the last 5 years

Tech Trend, Workshops

December 19, 2014

The technology scene in Kenya has grown rapidly over the 1st half of the decade.  Behind this steady growth lies the emergence of tech hubs, government support and of course the emergence of different technologies.
The emergence of tech hubs and labs and institutions like mlab East Africa, iHub, Nailab, Emobilis, Growth Hub amongst many others have proved to be great initiatives in terms of accelerating growth in the ICT sector. They do this through accelerator programs, Ideation programs, Hackathons, Incubation , Entrepreneurial/ Business coaching, meetups amongst others. The education sector has also followed suite whereby  institutions like Strathmore University, Nairobi University and Kenyatta University have also set up hubs within their campuses to enhance the same. In Strathmore we find the ilab while in Nairobi University we find the C4D lab. Kenyatta university in particular recently introduced the Digital learning program where students are given tablets enabling them to study anywhere anytime.
The government through the ICT Board has also made major strides in pushing the ICT sector. In the recent years they have introduced the Digital services, Projects and initiatives, research documents that have shaped the technology landscape in Kenya. Some of the most notable ones are National Optic Fibre Broadband Infrastructure (NOFBI), Kenya Open Data Initiative (KODI), County Connectivity Project (CCP), Digital Villages- Pasha, Tandaa Grants, Huduma Centres Research Report, Communication Authority of Kenya ICT Reports and the Vision 2030 Konza Technology Park. They have also had partnerships with major industry players like IBM Research lab, KITOs, NASSCOM, Oracle, SAP and  Huawei.
However, all this growth  has been made possible by the emergence of different technology inventions that have been leveraged by developers to create different platforms and softwares that have made this possible. It is with this in mind that the m:lab East Africa this year came up with the TechTrend initiative.

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

So here goes the list of my top 10 most disruptive technologies that have shaped the Kenyan tech scene 1st half of the 2010 – 2020 decade. My rating is biased on the impact the technology has had on the Kenyan people. One major aspect to note is the tendency of all technologies to focus towards mobile capabilities.
#10 Content Management Systems
The most common of them that I have come across include Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, SilverStripe or MODX. Before 2011 the most commonly used platform was Joomla; It has being overtaken by WordPress which is now perhaps the leading platform because of its blogging capabilities. The other uses of these CMS are Websites, shopping carts, discussion forums etc. Thousands of blogs exists in Kenya, from personal blogs, Corporate blogs and major News sites. Alot of major websites and shopping sites are also powered  by these CMSs
#9 Application Frameworks
Hundreds of Application frameworks exist in the market today.These are software applications that are designed to support the development of systems. They have greatly reduced the amount of time needed to create big applications because they provide libraries for database access, templating frameworks and session management, and they often promote code reuse.
The development of HTML5 has brought major capabilities in developing Hybrid applications that can be used for both the laptop and mobile phone. Hybrid Frameworks like the Intel App Framework, Phonegap and the Rhomobile Suite enable HTML5 apps to be converted to different platform apps like Android, Windows or iPhone Apps.
Front end web developers and back end web developers have Codeigniter, Laravel,  Ruby on Rails, Bootstrap just to mention a few that they use for their different developments. Thousands of Corporations, Startups, Companies have their ICT technicians develop on top of these frameworks.
#8 USSD/SMS Technology
The market for smartphone in Kenya is steadily growing. Keen to note though is the use of USSD and SMS and how startups and companies have been able to tap its use. The Eneza Education for example uses this to impact lots of children lives in the education sector. Other companies leveraged on it via subscription services such as Love/Alerts SMS, betting, buying music  etc. Banks also use it for mobile banking among other uses. Hundreds of Companies and Startups, have tapped into the capabilities of this technology and its impact influences many in the Kenyan Society.
#7 Smart Phone
Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and many other hundreds of apps are as a result of the proliferation of smart phones. The capabilities of smartphones is transcendent considering the different innovations being inputted into the phones with every new upgrade. The IoT is also something to watch for in the next few years as we see our phones become connected to our household items as well as gears like smart watches.
#6 Payment Gateways
A few years back we only knew of Paypal, we now enjoy PesaPal, Jambonet and iPay amongst others which incorporate Kenyan modes of payment. This has led to the rise of local ways of purchasing through our phones and websites using our local means of cash exchange.
#5 NFC Technology
I call it ‘tapping’ technology. Its basically the use of an NFC enabled card with a phone or other mobile device to enable transfer of cash. The Public transport in Kenya rolled the Cashless system however its yet to be adopted fully in all PSV vehicles. Already, players like Beba Pay, My1963 Card, Abiria Card have formed partnerships with major banks KCB and telcos like Safaricom. We will see what becomes of it the next few months as we get into the second half of the decade. The technology is also used for loyalties, school going children and as access cards. This year also saw the first Kenyan startup to head to the Silicon Valley, Card Planet.
#4 Optical Fibre Technology
In the recent years the fibre optic in cable was laid down in Kenya and it has since increased the internet speeds to great levels. The internet providers such as Jamii Telcom and Zuku have come up with interesting packages and ways to sell their bandwidth to the Kenyans. Its impact affects millions of Kenyans and thats why it features at no. 4 of the disruptive technologies in Kenya list.
#3 3G Technology
With the growing number of smartphones that have 3G capabilities, the Telcos are battling day and night to create packages for mobile data. The major telcos have enabled 3G technologies in major cities in Kenya. Recently, Safaricom introduced 4G capability via their network and in the next half of the decade we will see the other telcos follow suit as well as emergence of other innovations via the same.
#2 Cloud Computing
In 2009 it was generally thought of as a fad, it has grown to become one of the biggest technological strides in our generation. It involves delivering hosted services over the Internet via services like Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The cost of servers, their sizes and computational power is now not a headache to various tech companies who now simply just have to pay for the different services and gave it hosted over the cloud. Windows Azure and Amazon web services, are greatly used by many developers especially to integrate web and mobile services as well as create cross platform networks with different capabilities. In Kenya startups like Kili, Kenyan Cloud and corporates like Safaricom have leveraged on the opportunity with their Cloud computing service. Softlayer recently partnered with mlab East Africa to provide the services to startups.
#1 Mobile Money
Kenya is undoubtedly the most innovative mobile money market in the world. Mobile money transfer service providers moved over $20 billion and over 700 million transactions last year. Its impact is widespread throughout Kenya. Mobile money agents, integrations with banks, microfinance institutions, companies, megastores and many other startups have build other systems on top of the mobile money. Mobile money technology has had the most impact on the Kenyan economy and continues to improve peoples lives on a daily basis. It proudly features as the #1 most influential technology for the 1st half of the 2010 – 2020 decade.
Technologies to watch for in the next half of the decade:

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