Mobile Boot Camp: Day 1

By Joseph
  Published 20 Nov 2010
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Dr. Joe Sevilla kicked off the event, welcoming participants to what is actually the 5th (not the 4th) Mobile Boot Camp, whose theme was “Mobile Applications: Impacting Africa”. He gave an overview of what to expect from this boot camp and announced the competition that would be open for participants of this mobile boot camp. He encouraged participants to participate in such competitions and develop mobile applications, by mentioning a few of the success stories of StrathmoreUniversity Alumni such as Alex Nyika of iCheki and Susaneve Oguya from M-Farm.

Next Up was David Muturi from Ericsson, the platinum sponsors of the event, who gave a brief overview of the history of telecommunications. He highlighted the transition from landline technologies till 4G technologies today. He also gave an overview of the various Mobile OS platforms, as well as challenges faced in the mobile application development field. The rest of the Ericsson team then gave an insightful presentation on the Youth and Mobile application development in Africa, showcasing some of the innovations that Ericsson has come up with. A question and answer session with the Ericsson team ensued, right before tea break. After the tea break, Michael Wakahe, from Shujaa Solutions was up next, giving a talk on Mobile Website application development. He gave an overview on the need for mobile web technologies as well as a brief history of mobile web applications, and the various technologies used for mobile web development. He also talked about the Shujaa Developer platform, pointing out that 70% of proceeds are awarded to the developer, and 30% goes to Shujaa Solutions. As a parting shot, he flashed his Nokia C3 and Amazon Kindle reader to the very excited participants (me included!)

Wadzanai Chiota-Madziva, who worked at Safaricom Limited as a product developer for 9 years, was up next with a talk on Linking customers – Developing for the market. She brought to light the fact that most techies/developers make the mistake of not considering the users of their applications while developing.  She advised developers to be consumers of their own solutions, to make use of their own applications as they develop, “Solve your own solutions; scratch your own itch.” Charles Kithika was next with his presentation on Building good business models with IT projects. He advised developers NOT to overprice their applications, as is the case with promotions we have been seeing on our TV screens lately, where consumers are charged 60kshs per SMS. According to Charles, this is how to make money from your applications:-
  • One-off sale
  • Charge per service
  • Charge per use e.g SMS applications.
Right before Lunch, Ken Kasina was up on stage to vouch for development using Python. According to him, a developer is more productive with Python than with Java. Maybe it’s time for developers to explore the enigma that is Python? The afternoon session began on a good note, with Erastus Njuki giving a presentation on SmartPhone application Development, who lived in Japan for a year developing applications for the iPhone. He highlighted the need for smartphones, as well as the fact that some of the key features of smartphones such as push notifications, smart links and GPS have been overlooked. He also gave insight on how the Japanese market was initially conservative, and iPhones were given out for FREE (yes, for FREE) to penetrate the market. He gave an example of how the smartphone was used to enable the Japanese tradition of Flower viewing, known as Hanami. An application was developed to inform of flower citing. His advice on how to start developing smart phones applications? Form teams. Next up was Alex Nyika, who gave a presentation on the iCheki application, a matatu tracking solution. Alex, a Strathmore University Alumnus, is the brains behind the event registration module used for the mobile boot camp, which led him to win the previous boot camp competition. He also talked about his experience in Finland, where he won the top prize for his innovative idea iCheki. He encouraged participants not to underestimate all the competitions that come up, and take part in them. A challenge has been put forward to all mobile developers out there. Develop your ideas, you never know where it may take you. Last, but certainly not least, were the all-girl M-Farm team, comprising of Lillian Nduati, Linda Kwamboka, Jamila Abass and Susaneve Oguya, who are also members of AkiraChix andrecently won the top prize of 1 Million Kshs at the IPO48 event, to talk about their M-Farm product, an innovation that helps in creating a link between buyers and sellers of farm produce. According to the M-Farm team, this application cuts out the middle man monopoly, making selling and buying of produce a whole lot faster. The ladies pointed out that what they developed in the 48 hours of the IPO48 event was just a prototype, and that they are launching their Beta version on the 20th of November, 2010, in Kinangop. From the Question and answer session(which was actually the longest of the day), it is evident that these ladies are a force to reckon with. The ladies seemed unperturbed by difficult questions thrown their way, showing how much thought, effort, and research that they have put into this venture of theirs, which is barely a month old. Kudos to you and we wish you all the best. And with that, the moderator for the day, Miss Lillian Nduati, who is also a part of the M-Farm team, closed the event for the day. Participants have registered for various lab sessions that will run on Friday the 19th till Saturday the 20th of November 2010, which include:-
  • Python
  • Mobile Web
  • Beginner Java ME
  • Intermediate Java ME
  • Android
There will also be presentation of prizes to winners of the previous mobile boot camp competition on the last day of the event, 20th November 2010. Photos from the event are available on Picasa and Flickr. For those who want to share their photos of the event, join this flickr group. Follow the Mobile Boot Camp on Twitter here for more updates.
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