Every weekend in the newspapers of Kenya, a barrage of mobile telephony products are laid out. From ring tones to wall paper the list goes on and on. But if you think that this is what makes the array of mobile telephony products then you will be in for a pleasant surprise.


About a year ago I met a young man just about to join university; Ali who looks like any Joe in your neighbourhood is wiz kid when it comes to the convergence of technology.

Having being surfing the net for ideas Ali thought of using the mobile device as security link to their family car.


While this technology has been used in different western countries, Ali who at the time had a Nokia 1100 sought to use the short message service function and he ultimately was able to control their family car movement with his entry device phone.


This is just part of the many this that people in Kenya is doing with their phones.

The Eastlands area of Nairobi is particularly innovative when it comes to mobile solutions.


Take the payment of services and products offered on the net. Since Kenya’s laws do not allow for such transactions guys have turned their eye on to the MPesa service from Safaricom.

You order a service or product from me, pay by Mpesa and you get your purchase.

So it’s great that Nokia has seen the value of opening a research centre for Africa. The continent has another seven years of solid growth of about 30% per year.


More and more African governments and NGO’s are using these devices to provide services and information. Depending on what Nokia and other mobile device makers will see as their core value NoRA represent a wonderful opportunity to know who the customers of Africa are.


One encouraging thing about NoRA’s focus is the youth and team leader Jussi Impio says“Our focus is on the youth who make up the larger populace of this continent. Our research work will enable us to design products and services that are relevant and add value to their lives”


In Kenya the NoRA is already studying the dynamics of the informal music industry in the urban slum estate of Huruma, Nairobi.


The selection of partners is also well done since those selected have prior knowledge of how communities behave.  


For me this is just the first of many, the African consumer is evolving very fast and in many cases becoming more of technology leaders than tech-stylists.


Oh by the way NoRA is Nokia Research Africa


One Response

  1. “Since Kenya’s laws do not allow for such [online] transactions”
    Wow! I didn’t know that.

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