HOT AIR IN AIRTEL ONE NETWORK

One Network (started by Zain) is a borderless mobile phone network across the Airtel Group which will enable customers to move freely between the countries in which Airtel operates, and be treated as “virtual” local customers of the visited network in terms of pricing, while retaining their home network service functionality.

One Network allows customers travelling to One Network countries to make outgoing calls/SMS at the same rates as local customers and recharge with local top-up cards or with home network top up cards while using the same number and SIM. Incoming calls however are charged at between $0.03 – 0.15 depending on the country the call is received from.

Well all this is not so….

Mid May while in the streets of Nairobi, I decided to buy an AIRTEL sim card. Why because of the above promised ‘ONE NETWORK’. But to my chagrin this was not the much touted service or platform.

First after crossing the border to Museveni’s territory, me phone went off thinking that it was a phone setting. For some reason my phone a Nokia E5 has very good specs and for all my world I wouldn’t have thought that AIRTEL would have any network coverage problem. For the record I did use the sim card while in Nairobi so I know the sim card works…but not in Uganda which is part of the so called one network.

So if cannot get any network signal on my phone from airtel then it’s unlikely for me to get zapped with money from my friends…. Wait damn it in Uganda the services is called airtel money not zap. Now if the names do not get in sync then be sure that zap is not airtel money even though airtel owns zap and airtel money.

I may be jumping to conclusions here since I heard that airtel Uganda is restructuring or something like that….but until then I am stuck with a new sim card that is registered but cannot work part of the network and I do suspect that if were to go to Tanzania the damn thingy won’t work there as well.

Now I have forgotten the telephone number I bought in Nairobi. I must be losing network or something

THE NOKIA FLAGSHIP N8

For die hard Nokia fans, in a couple of days hopefully they will be able to enjoy what is now touted to be the Finnish Tech company’s Flag ship mobile device. If my friend Dorothy Ooko and her team at Nokia are right, it is a must have gadget. So I shall be making many many many calls to my people at this office in Ngong Road…..ha well to why the flagship.

Nokia N8 is by most of us geeks the now officially the Nokia flagship mobile device. The N series gadget data range and general aspect is impressive and boasts of GPRS/EDGE class 33, 3G, HSDPA, 10Mbps,WiFi 802 and a lot of stuff.

The memory also offers the user unlimited entries and fields in the phone book. The internal memory is 16GB, 255MB RAM, 512 MB ROM. You can also buy additional 16 GB memory.

The display has a multi-touch input method with proximity sensor for auto turn-off Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate and scratch resistant Gorilla glass.

The camera well for you who are constantly snapping this way or that way is 12 MP, 4000×3000 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, Xenon flash.

With such features (check out full specs on Nokia.com), I see why it is indeed the brand new pennant from Nokia. But to know how it tastes I will have to connect with it. Hope someone heard that cry for the N8. Ken, Dorothy….anyone?

Anyway it’s about to dock, grab one if you can. It’s a must have. Price range on or near  50k

NOKIA Kenya: the best yet to come

Nokia’s joint anti-counterfeit efforts with state agencies start to bear fruit

Efforts by global mobile phone solutions company Nokia to fight counterfeits through collaboration with state agencies have started bearing fruit, offering hope for increased tax revenues and job opportunities lost through importation of fake goods through the country’s points of entry.

A Somali businessman Mr. Ibrahim Khalif of Salihiya Cargo and Shipping Agency Ltd was fined Kshs 1.5 million by an Eldoret court after thousands of suspected counterfeit Nokia accessories which included Nokia handsets, batteries, chargers, imported through the company’s name, were seized in a warehouse at the Moi International Airport, Eldoret.

Mr. Kenneth Oyolla, General Manager Nokia, East and Southern Africa said: “Following our complaint with the Kenya Bureau of Standards’ Weights and Measures Department, a raid was conducted at the airport warehouse where the suspected products were stored before distribution, 17,783 counterfeit Nokia handsets and accessories were seized.”

After a number of court hearings, the court ruled in favour of the Weights and Measures department, ordering the destruction of the goods and a fine of Kshs 1.5 million. The fine was paid by the importer and the goods have now been destroyed according to Mr. Kephers Ndika, an officer from the Ministry of Trade.

Hailing the raid as an encouraging step by government authorities, Mr. Oyolla said Nokia will continue with its collaborative efforts through training of Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Bureau of Standards officials to distinguish the fake from genuine Nokia products. The company is also organizing training for immigration officers at border entry points to arrest the entry of fake handsets.

Mr. Oyolla said although the government removed 16 per cent Value Added tax (VAT) on mobile phones in the last year’s pre-budget, significant gains could be eroded by the influx of counterfeits.

“Our advice is that customers should buy Nokia products from authorized distributors and retailers and ensure they get their 12-month warranty for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. And if a product is purchased from a location other than an authorized dealer then exercise extreme caution especially when the price is substantially less than being stated by Nokia authorized dealers,” said Mr. Oyolla.

He said the recently-enacted Anti-counterfeit Law was a shot in the arm for the economy and a major win for legal businesses such as Nokia that have invested heavily to offer customers genuine products. The Anti-counterfeit law spells out harsh penalties including a fine Kshs 500,000 or five years imprisonment for those guilty.

According to Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM),  the Kenyan economy loses about Ksh 50 billion annually to counterfeiters  and the extent of the problem exacerbated last year, when the figure went up to Kshs 70.2 billion. Directly, KAM estimates that the government is losing Kshs 19 billion annually.

“Counterfeiting is an illegal activity that affects many successful consumer product companies on a global basis in a wide range of industries and the national economies in which they do business. This illegal practice has a debilitating, draining effect on the Kenyan economy through lost revenues, fewer jobs in legitimate local businesses and law enforcement costs among other things,” said Mr. Oyolla.

The malpractice is also threatening regional  economic benefits of the East African community with KAM’s Standards and Regulatory Committee estimating that counterfeit and substandard products cost the East African region over Kshs 40 billion (US$ 500 million)  in lost government tax revenue annually.

He said Nokia will continue to undertake consumer awareness especially on how to identify genuine Nokia products right from the packaging, features, pricing and warranty period as well as risks of using counterfeited products.

“As a global company Nokia partners with and takes a leadership position in a wide network of organizations to advocate for legislation, regulations, procedures and other enforcement policies to protect the broader industry, including Coalition of Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR), International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), Quality Brands Protection Committee (QBPC) among others,” said Mr Oyolla.

NOKIA Kenya: the best is yet to come

A few years ago election monitoring and reporting was a tricky, tiring and often thankless affair. Dealing with Kenya‘s elections processes in the last decade, in particular, has largely involved sending hordes of polling clerks, election observers and monitors, with paper files stashed in their underarms, to far-flung areas to help record the goings-on election and referenda. Apart from being slow, unreliable and erratic, such processes have proved risky for election officials especially if violence broke out.

But things are changing. Mobile phone technology is rapidly transforming the way these national and other crucial life-changing activities are carried out, bringing with it faster, reliable and credible relay of information from outlying areas.

Apart from elections reporting, the ubiquitous device, owned by nearly 20 million Kenyans, has also helped stem incidents of violence that have in the past rocked various parts of Kenya notably in 2007 elections. A lot depends on how transparent such processes as elections are but the mobile phone is taking a lion’s share of the contribution toward this positive change.

In a ground-breaking project in conjunction with the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), Safaricom, Kenya’s largest network operator, the world’s leading mobile handsets-maker Nokia supplied over 18,000 Nokia 1680 phones to be used by the electoral body’s returning officers and clerks in various part of the country.

IIEC had picked Safaricom after, inviting Kenyan telecom operators for a partnership with it with the objective of running an efficient and credible referendum process.

“Key to this was information management with planned innovation of using mobile and fixed data infrastructure to transmit results quickly and cost effectively. Safaricom responded with a fully fixed and data proposition to meet this need. The mobile data solution included 3G modems and 18,000 Nokia 1680 handsets,” says Mr. Kenneth Oyolla General Manager, Nokia East and Southern Africa. The Nokia 1680 is one of the most affordable, internet-enabled mobile phones and boasts of a long battery life.

Safaricom then installed specific elements on the GPRS-enabled handsets including a customized application with a special interface for submitting results. It was a basic interface that has a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ options for feedback. The phones were then installed with an Internet Protocol (IP) address- a numerical label that is assigned to devices and which helps to uniquely identify each device.

The phones were also installed with an access point name (APN) which enabled the phone used by every presiding officer to be authenticated as genuine when they relayed results electronically to the computers at the tallying centre. . As a result the IIEC was able to get timely feedback in its centre, hubbed at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. By the time the clock ticked midnight of August 4 most of the results had had trickled from remote areas in Mandera and Malaba, near the border with Uganda.

“The sheer ubiquity of mobile phones is bringing with it one of the biggest leaps in history, in many spheres of our lives. Whether it’s the good, old text message or the new, snazzy features such as mobile chat- which are gaining huge popularity in Kenya and in Sub-Saharan Africa-the mobile phone is bound expand the possibilities. The revolution has just started,” says Mr Oyolla.

So what does the mobile phone revolution portend for people’s livelihoods? With progressively lower calling rates people are already interacting more on phone. In its latest quarterly report, covering January to March 2010, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) says the total number of mobile traffic grew by 19.9 per cent from 4.2 million minutes in the previous quarter to 5.1 million minutes. This represents a 118.6 percent increase, compared to the same period of the previous year.

At the end of the 2009, the penetration rate of mobile service had risen to 49.7 per 100 inhabitants. This compares favorably the world average of 49.8 per 100 inhabitants, as rated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), World Development Index 2009 from 2007 data. The recent tariff reductions by Kenyan mobile operators are destined to perk up these figures. Analysts say this is, potentially, good for the economy, with possibilities of people engaging in productive interactions such as seeking jobs, market-related requests and the like.

Soon, says Mr. Oyolla, mobile technology could play a significant role in detecting, mapping and responding to epidemics as happened in a recent polio outbreak in Kenya recently. With handset-makers like Nokia championing manufacture and use of low-priced, internet-enabled devices, players in the industry are expecting even more interactions on the mobile phone.

The mobile phone is already bringing unprecedented impact in other areas such as finance, education, health and environment. The talk of M-Pesa, revolutionary money transfer service pioneered by Safaricom, and a world’s first, has brought about ground breaking and positive effects to the Kenyan economy.

And in neighbouring Tanzania, Nokia is already providing technology leadership through Bridgeit locally known as Elimu kwa Teknolojia (Education through technology) in Tanzania using convergence as a platform for learning for children in developing economies, many of whom lack access to basic learning materials.

Mr Oyolla says the project, a multi-sectoral partnership with International Youth Foundation, the Tanzanian Ministry of Education and others, has brought about a “unique convergence of mobile telephony and satellite technology designed to deliver digital multimedia learning materials to teachers and students who otherwise would not have access to them. Plans are now well underway to kick this program off in Kenya before the end of the year.”

The mobile phone may have been alien to many Kenyans just a decade ago, but the socio-economic significance of this device might not meet its technological match in the next century.

RAMADAN APPS ON NOKIA OVI

In just about eleven days my brothers of the Muslim faith will be observing the holy month of Ramadan.

For those who know about this month, it involves a great deal of discipline as the faithful observe strict prayer times and a full day of fasting.

In this technology intensive world more and more people are relying on their mobile devices to check on daily essentials and now applications on Ramadan are now available to help users keep abreast with prayer times and also directions on prayers.

Nokia OVI stores has just launched the Ramadan applications on selected phones. This apps are free of charge from the ovi stores

The Ramadan applications are feature-packed and include the Holy Quran, Prayer Times and Hadith. The Holy Quran includes Quran recitation from multiple recitors from which users can choose to download in MP3 format while offers Qibla direction, provided for 1,000 cities in 200 countries, along with the ability to add, remove, update and edit any location using the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Ramadan applications for 2010 are compatible with a range of Nokia devices including Nokia N97 mini, Nokia E72, Nokia E52, Nokia X6, Nokia 5230,Nokia 5530,Nokia C5,Nokia 5235, Nokia 5800, Nokia E5, Nokia 6700 slide, Nokia 5233, Nokia X3, Nokia 6303i, Nokia 2710, and Nokia C3. The user interface for the applications is available in English, Arabic, Farsi, French and Urdu. 

  • The Holy Quran: allows users to read, search, bookmark and listen to Quran recitation although they are yet to include the translation in English saw if you do not know Arabic better learn fast.
  • Prayer Times: provides prayer timings and Qibla direction for 1000 cities in 200 countries, along with the ability to add, remove, update and edit any location using the GPS
  • Hadith: gives an easy and convenient way to read the Honorable Hadeeth from Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Riyad us-Saliheen, Holy Hadeeths and Arba’in An Nawawi

A CHOREOGRAPHY OF LIES – KENYA MEDIA

When the communication bill 2008 was brought in or presented to parliament, many people especially the Media Owners made so much noise over the ‘draconian law’ that was meant to take Kenya back to the dark ages; as was amplified by the media companies.

The stories by the media were well orchestrated. In fact the used a device that has become part and parcel of most people’s lives. The mobile phone.  The stories were both horrifying and factually so wrong that bordered more on lies.

For orgnisations that are meant to inform the public, the messages that were transmitted from the news rooms was that in simple words this: IF YOU TAMPER WITH YOU OWN MOBILE PHONE’S PHYSICAL FEATURES YOU WOULD BE LIABLE TO HAVE BROKEN A LAW’

Now let’s get this cleared. You get up from your digs and trot to a shopping centre and decide to by a mobile phone. The choice and array is awesome. Having acquired the gadget you decide to change the face of the phone with the colours of AFC LEOPARDS FOOTBALL CLUB. It’s blue if you would wish to know. Now it’s so happens that there are some entrepreneurs whose occupation is to design covers for devices and other electronics gadgets. They have licenses for this mind you and the trade is worldwide and the makers of electronic devices seem to enjoy this no one has yet to object to this.

Now you have your phone’s cover changed, but still something is missing. The ring tone has to sound like you in fact you hand set has a feature that allows you to assign tones to you different contacts.

So when did it become a crime to up load a ring tone from the internet into your phone. This is not what that bill said. It did not even suggest anything close to what the media had said. Yet all the NGOs were up in arms over the ‘draconian law’

The truth is quite simple and straight forward. Media owners are only concerned about the bottom line and if anything so suggest an interference of their profit margins then that will naturally become draconian. The quota provision on programming is found in all the developed countries so what’s the big deal? Well it’s quite simple, companies will be required to hire more to make local programmes or create that local content threshold. Thus more in employment will naturally erode the big profits and less bonuses and perks for the executives.

And when it comes to regulation, for god sake look Google the FCC of America and tell me if the states have this why are we trying to take off our clothes like spoilt brats that seem to think that the government is so against our existences. Pathetic

Lying to the public about a gadget that has changed their lives was quite a low blow to win an argument and its unfortunate that the public in Kenya is so easily  and always coerced into believing what the says as the truth.

The choreography orchestrated by our media  in Kenya has blinded so many of us that reading comments on the net not only amuses me but also shows the bias that is so heavily entrenched with most of us. But this is my opinion. 6 billion of us 6 billion opinion, you do not need to accept mine but I respect yours.

But what can I say my friend has learnt everything about life from the good old television

“When will I learn? The answer to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle, they’re on TV!” Homer Simpson

NEXUS AND MOBILE MONEY TRANSFER

Yesterday I got some funny information that, ok  went like this ‘my wife’s sister’s best friend, whose father in-law drinking buddy who has a cousin living with a room mate who works for the milk company that delivers milk to the white house says he heard from the cleaner…..’

Yap by this time I was lost and trying to find my way out or go some where that made sense.

As it turns out many companies have come realize that information is not power but constructive information is power. How you use and relay that information is the key.

With all the hype about mobile money transfer in the news now the icing can only come when all likely things that can be serviced by this mode of payment is exhausted. Because mobile money transfer is essentially the management of DATA period. OboPay with YUcash is going to allow for internet payments, that’s what Essar says and with the passing of the Kenya Communication Bill last year, this will make for an easier time for anyone stay and leaving in Kenya in respect to E-Commerce.

So as bank begin to eat humble pie and beg us to open bank accounts with them ‘I told you’, they have realized that what is important to most of us is how much battery charge my phone has, since if I make a minimum of 4 transactions a day with Safaricom MPESA and you do this 7 days in a week and in during a whole month that translates to a minimum of 2800 bob as service fees even more than premium bank monthly fee.

Multiply this by just half of the current subscriber base of MPESA and the figure is nothing less than 9 billion shilling in a month and bank managers are now seeing the sense of ‘CROWD SOURCING’

I should expect more products or services coming under the mobile money transfer platforms. People in this region shrug at the idea of credit cards and only carry their ATM cards only during pay day after withdrawal the card is kept right inside the underwear drawer.

Therefore more financial companies will make their way into this very lucrative business. Nokia is doing so expect other players to come in.

Finally to the story of the season, nexus one. I like the initiative and the device. As expected it has to have bugs since it’s the first from Google. They are used to search engines and devices are for HTC, Motorola and the rest of that folks. But their vision is bright and since they want to connect things linked in a series then nexus one is the first step.

Back to my first story, ‘the cleaner who was having breakfast with the…you get the picture, you can either tell them that Obama likes chapatti or start the story from the guy who was asking for directions in down town Nairobi and he happened to know the person who sat with the person that was first told about Obama’s visit by the person who served the driver that drove the body guard to ………….

NO VAT ON MOBILE DEVICES

I know a few guys who are particularly happy with Kenya Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. One of them is my good friend Dorothy Ooko of Nokia.While many people in the industry wanted a tax reduction on airtime, the minister decided to use the question ‘which came first the egg or the chicken?’
Well as you try to figure that out, lets ponder over this; yes most of us in the region spend lots of time on our devices talking or texting. Few use the many array of services that data entails.
Many of us agree that life without a mobile device is like living in an island. If that’s the case we have to come up with other and better uses of these devices. And probably the best way to enthuse the public is to make the gadgets a little bit cheaper.
With more people able to afford cheaper and better phones, the new data services that are being offered by the different networks will begin experiencing an upsurge of usage.
What this will do eventually is to spur other sectors that rely on data.
With the acknowledgement that Kenyans are finding it hard to get to a bank than a mobile device, Uhuru decision is likely to incite the financial companies to create service for the many un-banked. But first you gotcha give the people the tools first before you roll out services.
As for me, I can now reach my N97 goal faster than you can say N.
Oh Dorothy I told you I saw it back then