Tech Trend


{RECAP} Monetizing your apps and business with Bitcoin and BitPesa

Tech Trend, Workshops

December 1, 2014

On the 27th of November, Charlene Chen & John Karanja from BitPesa were the guests of the final TechTrend  edition of 2014 at the m-Lab East Africa.

Developers at the TechTrend meetup at mlab East Africa

They talked to developers on how they can leverage on their apps & services using Bitcoin.” It is simple to get started, and our team can help get you set-up” they said.
How it works:

This means that you do not need to worry about forex rates, credit card fees, or long waits to receive your money.  The end-to-end cost of using BitPesa is just 3%, absorbed in the margin we charge the client.

Bitcoin, the world’s first global digital currency, provides an unprecedented opportunity for individuals, businesses, and companies to accept payment from anywhere and anyone in the world at a substantially lower cost. Major travel companies like and accept Bitcoin and have reduced their costs and increased their business doing so! Even EBay is about to start accepting Bitcoin. 
For more information visit

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How to make the best out of GSM technology

Tech Trend, Workshops

August 22, 2014

The guest speaker of #TechTrend (August Edition) was Co-Founder & CTO of Eneza Education, Kago Kagichiri at m:lab East Africa,who demonstrated how to make the best out of GSM technology focussing mainly on USSD/SMS technology. TechTrend is a 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 or established tech companies.

Eneza Education (formerly known as MPrep) utilizes SMS technology with the goal of improving student learning. The program seeks to provide quality educational resources to schools in Kenya.

USSD applications are accessed by user request and make use of short codes (*—#) or text strings to trigger certain services in a session-based communication, while SMS  allows for short text messages to be sent from one cell phone to another.
Kago gave examples of basic GSM technologies like cell broadcast, flash messages, SIM menus, and Dial-in Tones. These can be used for various kinds of businesses including advertising, subscriptions or premium services. To make use of GSM technologies, one should partner with a  Premium Rate Service Providers (PRSPs), work directly with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) or MPESA/SMS providers e.g Twilio. Common charging models for USSD/SMS are usually 5/ 10 Ksh USSD, SMS transactions or Rental SMS/ USSD services.
See an overview of the meet-up below:

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Integrating mobile money into your app

Tech Trend, Workshops

April 7, 2014

Struggling with integrating mobile money into your app ? Then PesaPi might be the solution for you.

PesaPi is an open-source middleware that you use with your own application to enable mobile money transactions, originally released in 2011 under the BSD (lite) license.

Dealing with Telco’s can be difficult and each Telco has their own (difficult) way of doing things, hence if you want to support a number of different payment methods, or across different countries, then you are looking at A LOT of development time and A LOT of time spent on figuring out how to integrate with these systems.

Michael Pedersen illustrating  how to integrate Pesa PI into apps

Michael Pedersen illustrating how to integrate Pesa PI into apps

PesaPi solves this problem by having done all the research and by having integrated all the different payment systems into one unified interface that is easily integrated into your own application. The system currently supports Mpesa, Airtel, Tigo and MTN mobile money transactions.
In April’s edition of TechTrend the lead developer of PesaPi, Michael Pedersen (founder of Uhasibu) demonstrated the system and explained to mobile developers at m:lab East Africa on how they can use it in their own applications. Practical examples were shown including some code examples.
The API supports both PUSH and PULL capabilities. The PHP version of the API is generally the most mature and recommended at this point – the system is built using Mysql and Curl. Incase of any questions regarding its use, all questions can be directed to the public mailing-list “pesaPi” on Google-group:
Below is a youtube video tutorial illustrating how to build a (simple) website for an event signup – and include mobile money payment using PesaPi:

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Mobile Developers receive $100 bonus for integrating AppWrapper™

Tech Trend, Workshops

March 11, 2014

In-app advertising is the easiest way to make money through your apps. Did you know that in-app advertising is the fastest growing sector of the mobile advertising market? According to a report by Juniper Research, spending on in-app advertising is expected to reach $17 billion by 2018. This amount is up dramatically from the $3.5 billion spent in 2013. is a leading Global Mobile  Ad-Exchange with strong presence in emerging markets. Vserv’s pioneering technology AppWrapper™ powers One Click App Monetization for 20,000+ Apps across platforms. The AppWrapper™ is the World’s Simplest App Monetization – it enables premium advertising & innovative pricing models on any app, without coding, in just one click.

Ebrahim’s Popat presentation via Skype at mlab East Africa

In the third (March) edition of TechTrend, Ebrahim Popat, the current Manager of Developer Alliances at all the way from India was the guest speaker. He talked to the mobile developers via Skype at the m:lab East Africa training facility. & their innovative AppWrapper technologies allow mobile developers to focus on their apps without worrying about their monetization models and integration issues.
The AppWrapper boasts of:


  1. Adding key functionality in just one click; It’s simple, fast and requires no coding efforts.
  2. o

  3. Includes Hybrid Mediation which integrates with other ad networks across the world to deliver great fill rates.
  4. o

  5. Enables premium full-screen ads at launch and exit,which ensures returns as high as $5 eCPMs.
  6. o

  7. Enables analytics & bug tracking

Mobile Devs listening keenly as Ebrahim goes through his presentation

Ebrahim released statistics concerning the integration of the AppWrapper in his presentation template shared here. The highest number of developers who have integrated the technology are from Kenya. He went ahead to share their success stories as posted on their blog.

Ebrahim Popat creamed the session by offering $100 for their account for every developer who attended the talk and will register an account before 31st March 2014. The developers were delighted by the incentive and plans are underway to get the money into their account.

Find the audio message on the podcast show;
For more info contact [email protected]

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Mobile developers to benefit from BlackBerry

Tech Trend, Workshops

February 24, 2014

In early – mid 2013 news spread over the looming shut down of one of the leading company in the telecommunication field.  However, after the launch of BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) with support for Android and iOS we began seeing topics like “Can the huge success of its BBM chat service become the saviour of the embattled smartphone maker, at least in the short term?” and  BlackBerry boasts of ‘smashing success’ with 20 million new BBM users.

BlackBerry Messenger is a powerful, easy-to-use chat client for your device, and is one of the must-have applications for BlackBerry users.

In the February edition of TechTrend, Michael Kimathi was our guest speaker and he gave developers a talk on BlackBerry and how to port android apps to blackberry.

TechTrend is a 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 or established tech companies.

Here at the m:lab community Michael Kimathi, the BlackBerry Developer Community Manager Kenya, is involved with keeping developers motivated, informed and focused on BlackBerry development. He champions BlackBerry 10 development by  offering tutorials to the community, organising Blackberry monthly meet-ups, hackathons, BlackBerry jam forums and keep developers up to date about BlackBerry development tools.


Michael Kimathi, BlackBerry Developer Community Manager in Kenya giving a talk to mobile developers during the February’s edition of TechTrend at mlab East Africa

To the mobile developers, he championed BlackBerry 10 OS which supports open standards and open source tools by building and  enabling technologies of your choice like HTML5, C/C++ Native SDK and JAVA Android Runtime development environments which reduce development building cycles.

Perhaps the most interesting opportunity for mobile developers was the opportunity to win 2 BlackBerry Z10’s  to be raffled in each 10 ported apps from Androids .apk to Blackberry .bar.  This should be followed by creating vendor account details on The deadline for submission is 11:59PM 26th February, 2014. The developer should send the Application ID to [email protected].

Details on how to create vendor accounts can be found on the link below.
An audio session of the talk can be found here courtesy of

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Devs mentorship by

Incubation, Tech Trend, Workshops

January 31, 2014

A great idea can be built with almost any technology. They all have their pros/cons. No matter what stack you choose, you’ll pay a certain price for whatever advantages it offers. But really, the success or failure of your project has more to do with vision, leadership,execution, and market than technological choices – Matt Aimonetti.

Johann & Paul from giving a talk to developers

These were the opening words of Paul Schwarz from during a meetup dubbed Tech Trend that was held on 30th Jan at the m:lab. The meetup will be a monthly initiative that will focus on technology trends in the developer world and mentoring sessions for upcoming developers by incubated startups or established tech companies.

In the Tech Trend debut,  Johann & Paul were the guest speakers and they gave a general talk of their start-up from a technology point of view. This included testing tools, development language, framework, analytics tools amongst others. provides a secure accommodation marketplace connecting travellers looking for a cool place to stay, with hosts and their empty beds. It was launched in November 2012 and currently provides over 1,000 accommodation options in Kenya alone. The site has seen traffic grow to 50,000 unique visitors and 130,000 page views per month. They have had numerous successes including winning PIVOT EAST 2013 in the enterprise category. They are currently incubated at the m:lab.

Developers need to know alot of new stuff based on the technologies have incorporated in their development such as test driven development, virtual machines such as Vagrant,  deployment tools such as Capistrano amonst other technical details. Many questions were asked pertaining to Google analytics & Mixpanel analytic tools which are necessary in today’s development due to the need of studying consumer behaviour and measuring out site performance.


Developers at the Tech Trend talk at m:lab’s boardroom

Paul encouraged developers to develop their programming skills so as to be experts in their particular area of specialisation. He personally follows Uncle bob blog and gets involved in open source projects. He is also active in reporting bugs of whichever platforms he uses which have seen him grow immensely and gain other skills in the process.

Feeling a sense of having missed out! look out for February’s Tech Trend Talk.


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