I love gadgets & technology. I’m not an expert but I like what gadgets & tech can do for my life. I own two cellphones. Yes, one is a Nokia. If you have interacted with me, you will know that I am passionate about Africa. And I believe that, if there ever was a time for Africa to start realising its true potential, it is now. Information, content is king. The means of accessing and hoarding information is easier. Well, easier than it was trying to establish oneself during the industrial age.
No-one expected the cellphone to penetrate the African continent the way it did. And Africans use mobile technology in ways that were not initially imagined including as a cashless transfer system. Travelling in places like Ghana, I found that people, especially in the media, are using the cellphone to record audio & video and upload to YouTube & other sites. Any limitation they may have in terms of infrastructure is countered by the cellphone. Limited fixed line possibilities, slow internet connectivity, etc – the cellphone.
And in many instances, that cellphone is a Nokia. Nokia is one of the most recognisable cellphone brands on the continent. And it does seem like they are looking to do more than just sell handsets: Nokia Research Africa. Only time will tell how much they do.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I attended the launch of the Nokia N97 (and N86) in Johannesburg and fell in love, although I only fiddled with the phone for a couple of minutes. I am still hoping to get some quality time with one <<hint, hint>> and will share thoughts on that at a later stage. The thing that intrigued me the most was a competition being run by Nokia in South Africa: Calling All Innovators competition.
Because my one cellphone is a Nokia N96, when Nokia started murmuring about their Ovi Store, I signed up, downloaded application for my phone and explored. Didn’t get anything but it is filled with a growing collection of “applications, games, videos, podcasts, productivity tools, web and location-based services”, etc. Some free, some priced in Euros. Occasionally, when engaging with things of this nature, I ask myself: how does Africa get in on the action.
They finally answered with Calling All Innovators which is a competition for mobile and web application developers to create locally-influenced, mobile applications for South Africans. First question that did come to mind is how many local developers do we have and, considering it is open to all, are there any developers across the continent who can take advantage of this competition. For $85,000, I’m on a crash course hoping I can get something done before the October 31st, 2009 closing date. And beyond that, publishers of content on the Ovi Store get 70% of the customer price.
For full details on the competition, Calling All Innovators.
And consider the opportunity. Even if you do not enter and win. It is a platform for African developers to get beyond our borders.