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Daily Nation : February 24th 2014
4 TECHNOLOGY Apps alone won’t make you rich S BY KAHENYA KAMUNYU firstname.lastname@example.org ome young people believe that after building an application or web- site and then putting it in a device and calling it “m-This”, “i-That” or “e-This”, they will be on their way to technology stardom and riches. With this in mind, the young developers have written copious amounts of code and released a large number of apps. The recent result of this has been a technology micro-bubble. It has burst with less than five per cent of those apps surviving 24 months or pulling in a single shilling. Such apps are referred to informally as “m-Vitu”. Vitu is Kiswahili for “things”. The bubble claimed many. The problem has been the failure to separate “wishful ideas” from “realistic ideas”. The technology world is not perfect. Sometimes realistic ideas also fail and wishful ones work. These outliers exist, but they are rare. Let’s share some ideas of how to avoid building another “m-Vitu”. Understand the problem You must understand the issue and not conflict real concerns with problems of convenience. Without a genuine problem that warrants resolution, you have a wishful idea. An easy way of identify- ing a problem’s potential for resolution is to see how your possible competitors deal with it. You might just find a key ingredient lacking. It could be about efficiency, or a failure to meet customer expectations. Can you fix it better, faster and at a more affordable price? Adaptation Our continent is lacking in infrastructure, so what we might consider affordable in terms of call and data rates could be premium charges in other countries. Failing to understand your demographics means you mix up cost and ability. Affordable data is not a sign that your app is headed for success. However, adapting it to your demographics gives it utility. And if it is highly demanded, cost of data becomes a secondary concern to users. Resolve your challenges All businesses face prob- lems, some critical enough to destroy the business. It could be service unavailability, wanting customer service, poor marketing and communication, among others. Regardless of the potential for your idea to resolve critical industry issues, unresolved internal challenges won’t let you. Poorly resolved internal challenges are a ticking time bomb if they are left in the wild. It is impossible to identify all the potential problems Success in technological innovation is sheer hard work on all aspects of a business become overconfident and reckless, leading to humongous investor losses. While doubt is good to have, it should not be paralysing to a point that one cannot make a proper decision. Technology changes in a business, but it could be disastrous to fail to resolve them immediately they are noticed. Make decisions Decisions are not easy to make, especially when investors have trusted you with their money. It does not matter the amount. Many business leaders overnight, so positive decisions made today could be negative tomorrow. Accepting that you will fail is the first step to making decisions. Truly analysing the problem is the second step. But the ticket is in actually making a decision and accepting the consequences. Confidence is gained by learning to react quickly from bad decisions and turning that failure into an opportunity. If your application has fundamental failures based on a bad decision, you N have to be ready to roll up your sleeves and correct things in the shortest time possible. This is to prevent customer rebellion. Learning to make deci- sions and eventually making a string of good ones increases confidence and multiplies the potential for success. Thus, success in techno- logical innovation is not all about building an application and expecting magic once it is out there. Neither is it about receiving positive press and supportive social media comments. It is sheer hard work on all aspects of a business. The writer is the CEO of Able Wireless Company (www.ablehq.co.ke), a media streaming service provider INSTITUTIONS DAILY NATION Monday February 24, 2014 COMRADE LIFE Weekends in campus reveal the ills BY MERCY NJOKI email@example.com Weekends in campus bring a lot of excitement. They are a welcome break from the usually hectic weekdays. The tight schedules from Monday to Friday, the packed and poorly ventilated lecture halls, the waking up early and walking some 2km to catch a 7am class is no joke. Add that to the assignments, the CATs, the projects, the tight deadlines for submission and ultimate presentation, and comrades have had enough of the week. So on weekends, all cares are thrown to the wind. Female comrades make the best of it. Friday evening in the female hostels, the shower rooms will be packed and rare make-up pulled out to accessorise the flashy dresses. Shortly, vehicles with tinted windows will be driving in, one after another, to pick up comrades wearing six inch shoes and carrying huge handbags. Comrades with no weekend plans will be watching these events from their hostel windows, either in amusement or in envy. Weekend also happens to be a good time for students to make extra money. Some do part time menial jobs. Others plaits their comrades’ hair at a fee. Some offer tuition classes to primary and high school students. But some students take the unethical root to make cash. There are female comrades who go out with unprincipled lecturers for mutual benefit. In return for “a warm night”, the lecturer promises to dish out an ‘A’ in the relevant subject, in addition to some money for upkeep. Other students, and these are the extreme EMPLOYABILITY Study to inform how to make graduates more employable BY MERCY GAKII firstname.lastname@example.org In January 2013, the British Council commissioned a study to determine how typical universities in Africa and the United Kingdom had fared on the question of employability of students and their participation in development. Using select countries across Africa and the United Kingdom, the study, which will be completed in 2015, will examine whether learning, teaching and research in African and UK universities deliver employable graduates, and if those institutions contribute to development. The study is titled Universities, Em- ployability and Inclusive Development. In its context, employability refers to the ability of an individual to gain and maintain employment. Preliminary findings of what has been covered so far, released on February 5, focused on quality and relevance of curricula, teaching and learning, and whether they are tuned to promote development and graduate employability. The study follows persistent complaints by employers that fresh university graduates were hardly ready for the workplace, and hard to more often than not be taken through additional training. The chairperson of the Association for Commonwealth Universities and also the Vice Chancellor of Kenyatta University, Prof Olive Mugenda, observed during the presentation that beyond a good degree, a graduate must be armed with confidence to boost their employability. “We also need to encourage the creation of more opportunities where Kenyan and foreign universities can collaborate through exchange programmes to provide students with international exposure,” she said. Kenyan universities churn out up to 50,000 graduates every year. The formal job market cannot cope with these numbers. According to Prof Daniel Sifuna of Kenyatta University, graduates must therefore come to terms with the few opportunities that may only be available in the formal sector. “The problem of youth unemploy- ment in the country has partly been occasioned by a mismatch between the output from our universities and the capacity of the economy to create jobs for them,” he observed. “The quality of graduates when they join the work environment has become a constant headache that universities must deal with. Notably, this is one of the challenges that the comparative study poses in the on-going research, because there is little rigorous data to support these assertions from the local industry. Such data would enable universities to better understand the market needs, and therefore train their students in such a way as to meet those requirements,” he added. One solution, suggested by Profes- sor Gerald Ouma of the University of Pretoria, is to have highly specialised universities. He said: “In South Africa for instance, there are specialised universities handling specific career training because students are oriented differently.” The British Council study has so far established that it takes a university graduate an average of five years to find a job. Their employability depends on job specific skills, generic work skills, personal qualities including reliability and time management, and knowledge and understanding of soci- ety and moral values. The country director of the British Council in Kenya Tony Reilly, noted that in the past decade, six out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world have been in Africa. “The continent could be on its way to experiencing the kind of demographic advantage that boosted economic growth in continents such as Asia over the past three decades. These young people in Africa will need jobs that have security and fair play for them to build their lives and as prepare well for the future,” he observed. The study uses UK universities for a comparative dimension to see how the nation has responded to the common challenge of graduate employability. It will be concluded in December of 2015, according to the plan. The study is expected to offer insights into whether curriculum, research training and other pedagogical methods can be improved in order to contribute to the production of employable workers. It will also seek to understand whether funding for higher education, governance and management of universities enable the institutions to achieve their goals. few, take themselves to night clubs in the deep hours of the night to not only have fun, but to also steal from unlucky revellers who become easy prey. These girls have mastered their skills well enough. More often than not, they “transact” their businesses and walk away unnoticed. Of late, there has been talk of some students visiting certain hospitals to “sell” ova, supposedly to be used to make babies through test-tube fertilization. I hear this has become a lucrative business, with one ovarian egg retailing at between Sh25,000 and Sh30,000. A self-sponsored student needs to sell only three to clear her fees for a semester and accommodation. Male comrades have reportedly not been left out in this booming business. Their semen is also on demand. Apparently, older single women want young vibrant and intelligent university students to sire children with them. Those targeted are medical, engineering, and law students who are believed to be brainy, and might therefore just help the women to get equally brainy children. Through social media, potential buyers meet sellers of semen and deals about price are struck. And remember the infamous campus diva for rich men? It is still on and has recruited more members and followers. It can be argued that more students are today driving themselves to campus than before, and living in apartments that the regular middle income Nairobian can only admire. With the government offering the bare minimum of financial support and no much help comes from home, students have had to learn how to fend for themselves. The only concern is that many are tak- ing the unethical route in pursuit of quick money. And it is the excitement of weekends that expose their ways.
February 23rd 2014
February 25th 2014