Archive for the ‘current affairs’ Category

Social Expectations Perspective: Jumia – African Company or Not

This is the hottest topic right now with valid arguments on both sides of the equation, so here is my unsolicited opinion.

What we can agree on is Jumia calling itself African is to look exotic, different to be able to raise its valuation hence more money to the shareholders. Arguments that this is a good thing, raises the visibility and opportunity for African based startups (this is like a client giving you a bad deal promising more work – never happens), opens more FDI money (never to happen) are all hope that it works out, with the proponents being the same to say bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.

Now that we have gotten that out that out of the way, what makes a company “African”. To answer this question, one needs to look around at the social structure which drives the expectations. Let me use an analogy here, many of us Africans who live in the urban areas have connections to our “villages” or ancestral birthplaces, and there is an expectation to send help back to support what happens there. Infact when many an influential person has died, and the murmur at the burial is what squalor they are buried in for the afterlife forgetting where they came from.

The expectation is that as you grow in the world, you do not forget where you came from and bring the “village community” along so that they too benefit from your success, which benefits others in the “village community”

So back to Jumia, which is an example of a rich person who comes to a community, builds a sprawling mansion, does not live in it, then goes ahead to sell themselves as a pillar of the community, yet all the support they give to the community is low wage menial unproductive labor.

Is the aim of the business to “only” make boatloads of cash or to profitably solve an problem/challenge while having a positive impact on society?

Over to you folks  looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions too

UPDATE: These expectations are also being raised by the EU/USA over the large multinationals like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft etc which incorporate in tax havens, leverage loopholes and pay no “taxes” in countries where they sell services and make revenues.

 

My 2018 Uganda Independence Pledge

Uganda, my motherland, my homeland where I was bred, born and raised
While I may not like what you have become
I am not going anywhere
Age ain’t nothing but a number
Now it is my turn – It is not about what you can do for me, but what I can do for you

I pledge to learn new skills and gain new knowledge everyday
I pledge to gain mastery of the crafts that I practice
I pledge to use those gifts
To grow, guide, mentor
To clear and prepare a path
Starting from my own sire
On the journey into the unknown future

I will not forget my culture and norms of my forefathers
An unseen pulse through my veins
A perspective
A foothold to step on
A ledge to hoist myself
These too I add to my arsenal

I pledge to stand upon the shoulders of giants
To grow strong
So I can provide strong shoulders for others
Despite all my failings
To err is human
I will stand strong

As I make this pledge I am of sound mind and thought

For God and my country

Boda boda registration – An approach for KCCA

There are job advertisements going all around social media for enumerators to support an exercise to register boda-boda drivers in Kampala city. These are thoughts on how the implementation can be done in a cost-effective manner, getting a reasonable return for the investment.

  1. Stakeholder engagement and management – outline the benefits of the registration to the different stakeholders, the motorcycle owners, riders, general public, law enforcement
  2. Digitize the process – in the era of cheap $100 – $150 tablets, this can manage the costs by combining both the data collection and data entry steps of process. This can also help provide immediate metrics of survey progress
  3. Leverage the social organization that is boda boda stages – these are the defacto locations where the riders congregate and organize themselves. At the stages is also a social circle and hierarchy with savings schemes, rules of behavior that is enforced.
  4. Leverage other databases – URA TIN and Vehicle Registration, National Identification Regulatory Authority (NIRA) for National ID verification to help verify the accuracy of the collected data
  5. Tag the boda bodas that have been registered – you can use passive RFID tags which can be checked quickly
  6. Use a local company to build the platform – rather than a foreign owned entity
  7. Plan for motorcycles that may be missed in the different verification waves, so that the exercise remains up to date

Additions and feedback are welcome

Bringing Security to the heart of Uganda Consumer Applications 

A very welcome addition to Uganda technology scene are the multiple consumer facing apps, from banks, to telecommunication companies to support mobile money services, to parastatals getting closer to their customers. The newest apps that I am aware of include (in no particular order):
  1. Airtel Money
  2. My MTN
  3. NWSC Mobile
  4. NSSF Go
  5. Stanbic Bank Mobile Banking
  6. DFCU Mobile Banking
  7. Bank of Africa Mobile Wallet (BMW)
  8. Ask URA
On one hand, this is a very welcome addition to address the increasing sophistication of the Ugandan urban consumer who demands more from the corporations. However a worrying trend which needs to be addressed is the security of these applications, in collecting and managing user information. I have taken to social media to ask for more information on the security setup for these apps, but have never gotten a response.
This is hoping to the regulators, Bank of Uganda, Uganda Communications Commission and NITAU (at the moment) to provide a united front to ensure that the following areas are addressed:
  1. Excess permissions, one app wanted to access my contacts, SMS messages, WIFI, phone identity yet was not a banking app
  2. Encryption of data stored on the phone to ensure that if the phone is separated from the owner the data is safe
  3. Secure connections for communication with external servers – via HTTPS and SSL
  4. Security audits of back end infrastructure following ISO and COBIT standards (http://www.isaca.org/Journal/archives/2002/Volume-6/Pages/A-Survey-of-Application-Security-in-Current-International-Standards.aspx)
  5. Penetration, stress and load testing to ensure that aside from
  6. Software development practices that include OWASP top 10 Proactive Controls for software developers https://www.owasp.org/index.php/OWASP_Proactive_Controls
What else do you see being done to improve the security of our consumer facing applications

Future of Software Development Industry In Uganda – 2015 Edition

These are my thoughts on the future of the software development industry in Uganda, after the official announcement of ThoughtWorks closure of the Kampala office (http://info.thoughtworks.com/Kampala-office.html).

I would like to approach this first of all by analyzing the contribution of ThoughtWorks to the Ugandan technology space, then what I see the future as.

ThoughtWorks contribution in two aspects – showing that its possible to run a pure-play software development business operation out of Kampala using Ugandan based talent, and the second providing an injection of new DNA into the local technology community. The exposure to international level processes, practices and projects have helped grow the experience of the local software development talent.

Local communities have been started & supported, included but not limited to Agile Uganda, Geek Night, Girl Geek Dinners (yay! Women in Tech), Rails Girls and Ruby Fridays. The OpenMRS community run a number of events to help grow its reach, while the Technology Radar discussions provided a continuous look into the present and future of computing. The contributions leave the local technology space different from three years ago.

What does the future look like? A tough question, and my answer is biased by over 15 years experience writing software in Uganda, my overbearing optimism, and my newly rekindled foray back into software development.

The future is bright, but can only be harnessed if the business and technology communities work hand in hand to grow the local technology capability. In this, a concerted effort to build a local technology practice with buyers pushing for a local component on all contracts leveraging open source. A good example is the Ministry of Health selection of OpenMRS (http://openmrs.org) as the EMR of choice for electronic medical records throughout the country with aggregate reporting done in DHIS2. There are lots of opportunities in leveraging technology in the agriculture and education sectors which remain new frontiers to be conquered.

I would further call upon the government entities and parastatals KCCA, URA, UMEME, NWSC to leverage OpenData approaches to provide the infrastructure for young innovators to build and monetize customer centric products and services.

Like Ghandi said, be the change you want to be in the world in this case “Coding in Uganda, for Ugandans, by Ugandans”.

Gakyali Mabaga (it is just the beginning)

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