Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Skunkworks: Nairobi March 4

A Skunkworks (blog) meeting yesterday was hosted by (7 month old) Google Kenya, and it was attended by an interesting mix of engineers, webhosts, designers, admins, bloggers and rivals of Google, - who all listened as Google employees explained their aps and maps.

some scribbled notes

- There’s an ongoing Google East Africa competition for students to develop gadgets for Google (closes March 17)
- They are mapping the country with Google map’s – started with Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru, with a Kenyan team, doing the mapping work, using the tools. Ideally the next step will be for maps to stream into local yellow pages
- Safaricom have the largest customer base of any kind in Kenya – 8 million strong – and so Google partnered with them to give all their subscribers free e-mail. Many people’s introduction was and still remains, accessing an email account.
- Ushaidi was cited as an examples of enhanced use of a Google platform
- Google in Africa for the long term, with an altruistic motive of sharing local content & information – and currently get less than 1% of revenue from Africa. They helped NTV set up a Youtube platform that has been a big success in terms of Kenyans abroad now able to watch local news online. They monetize in three ways - videoads, adsense, search box advertising. Kenya/Africa needs to get more local content up. Already some local web sites are making good money off adsense that is enough to sustain their online operations.
- Hot point #1 was bandwidth; or the performance of connectivity, service providers and other operators. They are known in the industry for short-changing consumers who are not wary and in the face of a regulator (CCK) who does not seem to care. There was a call for users to take the initiative, to test bandwidth speeds, and identify those with superior speeds and those who were short-changing consumers (a model from Australia called Whirlpool to test broadband was mentioned as a model that could be used to do this)
- Hot point # 2 was the lack of investment in infrastructure/or the wrong kind of investment. Examples: There are 4 ethernet cables in Nairobi, but no cooperation between providers. Government is building data centers, but with no servers there. Local loops are not benefiting end users. It would be nice of government required new building developers to also install connectivity in buildings
- Other challenges with local advertising – does it work? Yahoo never advertised in Kenya; yet have more e-mail accounts through word of mouth. Google is working with universities to give them free e-mail as a way of building a long term relationship. There’s also a move to alert local advertising companies to the presnce of local site to advertise on.

There were many other conversations but they were drowned out by sounds of mouths slurping pizza slices and mshikaki’s.


The.Hanyeé said...

Great post, greatest point of agreement here is that there is the need for more local content to be put up...local content that is useful, relevant and timely to its targetted readership.

Do you have any examples of URLs of local websites that are making good chumz via adsense?

phassie said...

Thanks for the update. I have been looking forward to the Skunkworks progress.

bankelele said...

Hanyeé: Thanks. There are lot's of websites (mainstream) with google ads, but I don't know which ones were cited. But absolutely, we need more content, and not just as news stories

Phassie: was a great evening, and wish I had stayed longer at Skunkworks

Gitts said...

yeah meeting was great though the traffic made me get there late!

Guilty as far as pizza munching is concerned

zia505 said...

Thanks for this summary.

Indeed, it would be interesting to learn more about projects actually making money with adsense. Till now I was under the impression that this was difficult if not near impossible.

This is one of the reasons serious investors shy from the market. The need for success stories seems like the first step in being able to attract serious capital to the market.

Can anyone shatter the perception that holds em back?!


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