Akirachix meets Akalamboys

On the evening of 31st Monday, four members of Akirachix attended the Mobile Monday (MoMo) meet up at the iHub Nairobi. These were Judith, Jessica, Jamilla and Rose. It must be said that their attendance significantly increased the participation of ladies in the MoMo meet ups. From here on the guys at the meeting requested to be referred to as Akalamboys (Akala – sandals made from old car tires, mboys Рboys). On the menu for discussion was Safaricom’s new acquisition MXit, the Safaricom-Equity Bank collaboration on the M-Kesho service, the symbiotic innovation Tuvitu and the implementation of RapidSMS by UNICEF. John Wesonga was the moderator of the evening.


Safaricom’s new acquisition MXit

Why did Safaricom have to go all the way to South Africa to get an application that could have been developed in Kenya? Erik Hersman gave a great explanation; they have 20 million active users to back them period. He reasoned that a developer who has a social networking application can bargain with the big boys when they have at least half a million active users. That’s free advice right there.

Erik expains..

M-Kesho – innovation or survival?

That was the topic of discussion with regards to Safaricom. Those who thought it was innovation were of the opinion that it seems to be a new service in Kenya. Those who thought that there wasn’t anything new, and they were many, argued that Safaricom had to find away to get Central Bank of Kenya off their backs. The value of the Mpesa transactions was close to the value of some banks’ transactions, Safaricom nearly operated like a bank and the cloud of government/bank regulation was hanging over them. A partnership with a bank was the best way to deal with that. Does this mean that safaricom may actually become open? Who knows only time will tell.

Tuvitu- Mobile phone aggregator

Timothy Mbugua of Symbiotic showed us his new innovation, Tuvitu. Tuvitu is a corrupted Swahili that means small things. It is a content aggregator for the mobile phone. The application will be beneficial for local content developers because their information will be discoverable. Tim also shared with us the lessons he learnt as a local techprenuer of the sembuse application. Here are his lessons on how to deal with the Big Boys in the corporate world:

Talk to the right people, not just anybody who works at the target company.
Carry your own lawyer and NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) to the meeting; you look more professional and it’s for your own protection.
Once again that’s free advice right there!

Timothy makes a demonstration

Implementation of RapidSMS by UNICEF

John took us through his experience of the implementation of RapidSMS. He explored the different SMS gateways available. He said they used RapidSMS because it is robust and efficient. The discussion concluded with John promising to hold a RapidSMS 101 session to increase awareness and transfer his skill to other mobile developers.



  1. Marto June 2, 2010 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    First off: AkiraChix ROCKS!!!

    In regard to the Safaricom + M-Kesho issue. The author nailed it! Safaricom are just getting CBK of their backs.

    Interesting read ..

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