Afrique Technologie? Bienvenue chez Daral!

Le 28 Janvier, la plateforme Daral a été lancée. Cette plateforme Web/ SMS  permet de recenser  et de lutter contre le vol du bétail

Be inspired Africa!

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Revenons sur cette journée avec  TechnoMag

– Les éleveurs sénégalais pourraient être amenés à introduire le mot Daral dans leur vocabulaire quotidien. En effet, la plateforme numérique, née du désir du jeune Sénégalais Amadou Sow d’apporter une solution technologique aux problèmes des éleveurs est susceptible de révolutionner le monde de l’élevage dans son pays.

Se présentant sous la forme d’une plate-forme Web-SMS, Daral contribuera à « la collecte et la visualisation des données relatives aux éleveurs et à leur cheptel » nous apprend l’agence de presse sénégalaise (APS). Les interactions qu’elle facilitera entre les éleveurs, policiers et services vétérinaires devraient permettre une diminution sensible des vols de bétail ainsi qu’une réactivité plus grande face aux alertes épidémiologiques.

Des possibilités qui valent à la plate-forme la reconnaissance d’Aminata Mbengue (photo), ministre de l’Elevage et des Productions animales qui déclare : « Ce projet innovant qui amène l’accès à la technologie dans un domaine rural et informel qu’est le secteur de l’élevage devra permettre à mon département de disposer d’un outil de gestion des données statistiques fiables qui lui permettra de mieux gérer ce secteur et de mieux planifier certaines actions ».

Soutenu par l’initiative Coders4Africa du groupe Microsoft, Daral devrait être expérimenté par 8000 éleveurs professionnels et 15 000 éleveurs domestiques des régions de Fatick et de Kaolack, avant un déploiement national

Publicités

Buea, Silicon Valley of Cameroon?

8 Startup Profiles from Cameroon’s Leading to this city.

By Dzekashu MacViban

Source: IDG Connect

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An IT revolution is going on in Buea, a university town in the South West Region of Cameroon. In fact, despite being smaller than centers at Douala and Yaoundé, Buea is already inundated with IT startups all looking to solve real life problems. These tackle a range of issues such as local bus problems, the poverty cycle trapping farmers… along with the great swathe of foreign workers who would like to work in Africa.

The young entrepreneurs behind these ventures are very conscious of the amount of hard work required to create startups that can compete at an international level. Now some of them, in an attempt to debunk any theories that their platforms are the product of luck, have worked even harder and have already reached the status of ‘two-hit wonders’.

This short profile provides an overview of eight of the more interesting startups in Buea at the moment. Some are highly successful, some are not yet off the ground; all are based on my own experiences living in Cameroon and interviewing local individuals on the ground. The companies mentioned are listed in alphabetical order.

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Agro-Hub

Agro-Hub strives to break the cycle of poverty entrapping more than 70% of farmers living in the rural agricultural communities of Cameroon. The startup works to provide these farmers with a much needed community, along with markets to sell their products through an innovative use of the web and mobile technology. This complements the work of the Cameroonian government and the African Development Bank.

Agro-Hub creates an inventory of agricultural products (such as maize, potatoes, garlic, okra, egusi, yam, tomato and cassava among others) from farmers and sells them directly to the general public through AGRO-MART or « farmers’ supermarket ». This supplies hotels, restaurants, boarding schools, other retailers and exporters.

Bisou

Bisou is an experimental illumination and sound device which provides an innovative approach to street safety. A Bisou unit consists of a security lamp (with motion sensors) attached to speakers. This is connected to an electricity pole or another supportive structure which can then plug into the electricity grid. The lights only come on when motion is detected and audio or media, such as a short piece of music, news, a public announcement, or an advertisement accompanies it. This project was developed due to a considerable amount of crime occurring in areas that were poorly lit.

Bisou is effective, cost efficient and an easy hardware hack. After dozens of meetings, presentations, field studies and technical assessments, AES-SONEL finally validated the street lighting project for Buea, but negotiations for full rollout are still in the pipeline.

Fee Perfect

Fee Perfect is the brainchild of Fritz Ekwoge who has a number of seminal projects behind him.  A Polytechnique grad student of ’07, Ekwoge started working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and while there, he launched Kerawa.com, an online classified ads platform. According to Alexa.com, for some time in 2007, Kerawa.com was the most visited site by local Cameroonian firms. The success of this startup gave Ekwoge confidence and with an investment from Limbe Labs he quit his job at PWC and started a company called Fee Perfect, which he describes as “an African tech company run right”.

In 2010, SeedCamp selected Fee Perfect as one of the top ten African startups. However, all of his previous ventures haven’t gone so smoothly.  Before Kerawa.com, there was Akoko.com, which he started while he was in Polytechnique, but this wasn’t successful.

Ekwoge then developed an app called Find Me, in 2011, which is a smart mobile phone book that finds companies, places and individuals, when one types, for example, ‘Find X’, and sends an SMS. The answer is received within a millisecond. It also includes an algorithm which automatically corrects names during a search. The app has been tested with phone companies in Cameroon and negotiations are in the pipeline.

The realization that Find Me might take a while to be integrated into society led Ekwoge to create Iyam.mobi, which is a cheap bulk SMS platform that targets Africa. Iyam.mobi’s website now includes a classified ads section, which wasn’t originally present. Iyam.mobi has more users in Nigeria than in Cameroon, and Ghana is the third African country with highest users. Recently, Congo Brazzaville and Chad joined the list of those using Iyam.mobi.

Feem is Fee Perfect’s first global product, and it is mostly used in USA, India, France, UK, Canada, Switzerland and Germany. Feem offers painless local sharing to the world using Wi-Fi, and it is adapted for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. Feem doesn’t have a precise launch date, given that it was launched on different dates on the various platforms under Fee Perfect, but it has been operational for almost a year.

King Maker

After winning the runner-up prize at the CSC2012 Award (Cameroon Startup Challenge) in Douala, King Maker, an innovative cyber cafe ad platform which generates pop-up ads for Cameroonian companies, was ready for the world. This is the brainchild of Mohamed Felata, an IT coder who’s been experimenting with online advertising models since his first web application, KmerBlagues, This startup works with cyber cafés to bring relevant local advertising to their clients.

Njorku

Churchill Nanje Mambe has been writing code since 2004, but it wasn’t until he built Njorku.com in 2011 that he became well known in Africa and the rest of the world. This included a profile on Forbes.

Njorku is a fast-growing career and recruitment platform for Africans, which retrieves pages and job advertisements. This provides a simple interface for job seekers to search through and filter jobs. “I never saw this coming,” he tells me, because today, Njorku receives CVs from people who live in the Philippines, Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Pakistan, Hungary and many other countries, and all these people want to work in Africa. Currently, Njorku serves seven African countries (Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa and Egypt).

Pursar.com

As a contender to alleviate the challenges and shortcomings of moving money around physically, Pursar.com is a digital wallet which enables the average Cameroonian without a credit card or PayPal account to engage in financial transactions online. It is built on open technology and allows money transfers, buying and selling, and facilitates getting paid for services online. The main raison d’être behind Pursar.com, says Otto B Isong, the co-founder, is to eliminate the problems associated with carrying money, such as theft. Before Pursar.com, Otto had founded TopUpDesk, a remote airtime refill for people without credit cards, and in January 2013, TopUpDesk was integrated with Makonjoh.com, a local e-commerce website.

Quick Ticket

Recently, an Indiegogo campaign was launched to fund Quick Ticket, a web-based platform through which commuters would have a real time connection with travel companies. This would allow users to make reservations from anywhere online and receive SMS notifications.

This platform, if successfully funded, will enable people to check bus schedules, reserve or purchase tickets, preview each bus plan, choose favorable seats, monitor the status of buses they book and check for parcel delivery, all online. The software was conceived by Acha Nelson, a 4th year Biomedical Sciences student and Absalom Shu, a software developer with a B.Sc in Math and Computer Science, who’d previously worked with Wasamundi. If this project is successfully launched, travelling by bus in Cameroon will never be the same again.

Wasamundi

The challenge of finding particular places easily has always preoccupied coders, and alleviating this quagmire has been central to Wasamundi.com. Founded by Qiuncy Kwende and Nara Laurence, Wasamundi connects people to information they care about, including local businesses and places in their community. It is a platform which assists people (especially students) find the accommodation of their choice via the web (Wasahostel.com) and SMS search.

WasaHOSTEL (wasamundi.com/hostels or wasahostel.com) is a platform which helps university students find housing via a website and by SMS across the country. For example if a student is looking for a room which costs 250,000 francs (518 USD), they can use a  mobile phone to text “Search 250,000” to 8047 (For MTN and Orange Cameroon Networks). The algorithm then selects hostels based on several unique variables like: how close is this hostel to the university? Is there a vacant room in this hostel? Is there a vacant room for the price which the student has searched?

Wasamundi allows businesses to be rated by customers and also has an SMS platform (wasamundi.com/texto or wasatexto.com) which allows users to send single and bulk SMS worldwide for 10 francs (0.02 USD). Its services cover the North, South West, Littoral and Centre regions of Cameroon, and Alexa.com ranks Wasamundi as the 121st most visited site in Cameroon. On top of all this, Wasamundi delivered the first URL shortener in Cameroon.

A number of factors can account for this technology transformation at Buea, the most prominent being that this is a University town, with a good climate, a lot of risk bearers and plenty of hopeful entrepreneurs. Its proximity to other cities like Douala and Limbe makes it possible for commuters to work there without actually living there, thus making Buea a good town for business.

The economic implications of these startups are multifarious, ranging from self-employment to a robust financial system as well as a noticeable improvement in standards of living. Who knows what the future will hold for a small place like Buea, thanks to tech.

Parlerait-on de Protectionnisme IT au Cameroun?

Selon Russell Southwood, Directeur Général de Balancing Act,  conseil et de recherche axé sur les télécommunications, Internet et la diffusion en Afrique, le Cameroun ne serait pas un exemple à suivre e matière de developpement IT. Il accuse l’Etat de garder le monopole , de garder le contrôle…

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Le gouvernement du Cameroun est suspendu à son monopole fournisseur de télécommunications de l’Etat , Camtel. Et le résultat est que le pays n’a pas assez de compagnies télécommunications installées. Le pays a refusé le financement de la Banque mondiale parce que cela aurait signifié la création d’un consortium de gros distinct offrant des prix compétitifs .La compagnie d’électricité du pays , AES Sonel , a longtemps nourri l’ambition d’ entrer sur le marché national de gros de fibre . La preuve de beaucoup de pays sur le continent , c’est que cela conduirait à une baisse des prix . Maintenant, le régulateur , l’ART – qui n’est pas connu pour son indépendance – et le gouvernement du Cameroun tentent de l’empêcher d’obtenir une licence . Dans ces circonstances , il est difficile de prendre au sérieux toute rhétorique du gouvernement de vouloir devenir une société de l’information , celui qui embrasse l’e-gouvernement .Jetons un coup d’œil de plus près à la situation. AES Sonel a posé plus de 700 km de fibre parce que, comme la plupart des compagnies d’électricité font, il veut être en mesure de gérer et de contrôler son réseau électrique à l’aide des liens de fibre . Le réseau a été lancé en 2011 et dispose de 96 brins . Globalement pour  les marchés concurrentiels , il est admis que plutôt que de mettre simplement juste assez pour cette tâche , une capacité supplémentaire est  incluse avec peu de frais supplémentaires . AES Sonel a alors demandé un permis de devenir un fournisseur indépendant de fibres.

Une source au Ministère des postes et télécommunications du pays déclare que le gouvernement a demandé à AES Sonel de se concentrer davantage sur l’électricité et donner ses excédents installations de fibre optique à l’Etat . Il a estimé que les télécommunications doivent rester dans les mains des opérateurs de télécommunications et que cette fonction particulière doit rester un monopole de l’État.

Le monopole de Camtel dans cette région était couverte par décret 005/MPT du 18 mai 2001 . Cette concession a été renouvelée par décret tous les deux ans jusqu’en 2007 , donc il n’y a actuellement pas de loi protégeant son monopole , sauf « le gouvernement le dit  » .

En 2009 , MTN Cameroun a tenté de mettre en place sa fibre  en commençant à rouler sur un lien 81 km à Douala , la plus grande ville dans la nation ouest-africaine. Mais le régulateur ART a fermé ce projet vers le bas avec la menace de lourdes amendes . En Juin 2013, il a émis un avertissement de Creolink , un fournisseur de services Internet  et à AES Sonel de cesser d’offrir de la fibre optique sur le marché des télécoms .
En Novembre 2013, AES a vendu l’entreprise pure et simple au fonds d’investissement britannique Actis. Avant Noël, AES Sonel a eu un autre coup à obtenir une licence de fibres optiques (..)En lock- étape , le régulateur et le gouvernement semblent faire valoir que AES Sonel ne devrait pas avoir intégré la fibre en premier lieu et, si elle persiste avec la demande de licence , la conséquence inévitable sera une grosse amende . En d’autres mots , ils disent la société devrait reculer , une forme d’intimidation parrainé par l’État qui porte atteinte à la notion de cadres réglementaires indépendants .Il n’ya pas de loi ou de décret portant monopole de vente en gros de Camtel – il comprend la station d’atterrissage du câble international , mais c’est une autre histoire – si l’ouverture à la concurrence de gros permettrait à la fois d’améliorer moins -que-parfait du service de Camtel et conduire à des prix de chuter brutalement . Le gouvernement veut AES Sonel à la main sur sa capacité de fibre de Camtel à maintenir le monopole . Paul Biya , Président du Cameroun , devrait se réveiller et faire la bonne chose pour les citoyens du pays.

Et vous? Que pensez-vous de ce protectionnisme?