Thursday, May 29, 2008

Why Social Networks / Media Sites Cannot Get to Millions of Users in Africa [ part 2 ]

I wanted to continue "why web 2.0 ventures are not making it big in africa", so I decided to drop this post. Please read on ...

There are soo many issues why a social network/media site cannot get to millions in Africa as a whole, although the number of internet users in Africa is up to 50+ million.

[Challenge: can your venture make an African who is not interested in the internet use the internet ?]

- How many Africans have access to internet at home ( luxury )?

- How many langauges do we have here in Africa ( minimum two : internationalisation starts from day one )

- How cheap is it for our users to go to the cyber everyday just to have fun on a soo called social network where they do not make any thing out of it ?

- Are the Ventures (web 2.0 sites ) having the right networks ( business , marketing, HR, IT ) to handle such growths to millions of users, and do they have the "big problem" Venture Capital ?

- How many Africans know the importance of the internet or how to use computers not to talk of your soo called social media site ?

If you are in Silicon Valley and you have a crazy idea like, it can explode within two years but if you are in West Africa, who is ready to invest into a "war torn zone" ( as they address us ), thinking that when a war breaks all their servers will be turned to dust ??
But I think if you offer Africans a place to meet people to better their lives( jobs, marriage, career networking ) just like what we are working on with ( still a work in progress ) or what FEE is putting forth ( classified ads - jobs 100% important to unemployed Africans) , they will come there and also tell their friends, and with time you might get the VCs coming or you might get the traffic to make some money out of.
More to that:
If I was unemployed I bet you I will visit everyday to see what opportunities God has for me somewhere in Cameroon or Africa.

My Proposed Solutioins:

- African web entrepreneurs should take some time to study software engineering and the business behind it. Remember this process will take you about two years before you can be able to build a good solution. Go to school or hit the browser to, most of us started from there

- Before starting a web 2.0 site, look at Africa, see what they value and what they dont value, what they have and what they can afford, dont build your site because its a social network, but build your solution because it has value to give to the average African no matter his poverty. Africans dont have money and they pay to access the internet, if you want them to use your site, then it should be something worth the small pocket money they have.

- Ensure that you make a bilingual solution ( kudos, so that most Africans can use the solution from day one.

- Market your solution via TV, Radio, Magazins, Blogs ( pay for the marketing ) else you wont get those users. Here in Africa, we watch TV, and listen to Radio and if you tell us something on Air, we will see it. You can hit MNET African Magic, and some other stuffs like Canal + horizon.
In business if you dont pay in something you wont make anything ( correct me if I am wrong ).
But if you count on online marketing: Abi we are not in Yankee (USA), and we dont want only tech savvy guys in Africa using our ventures

- While growing your web venture indulge into something else that will give you money for the time being else you will give up. You can get a regular job, which is not the best because its bad for the growth of your venture but good for the money. You can offer other services to firms in your area like build websites and softwares ( good one but very much strainous to your team), then get part of the money and experience and contacts as positive effects to your venture.

- I have realised that most internet users in Africa are mostly tech savy guys who work in the IT industry, but the guys who dont work in the IT industry need to use our sites too. Do something that can convert the non internet user in African to become an Internet user on your site [ VERY VERY BIG CHALLENGE ]

Web Gurus of Africa this is what I want you to remember:
online ventures need patience started in 2005 but its getting 200,000 users in 2008,
Facebook started in 2003 and it became big in 2007,
Google started in 1999 and it became big in 2003,
Myspace (2003 - 2006 ).
Blogger started in 1999 and Google bought them in 2005.
So don't expect to start today and in a year you get 20 million users, but you should expect a Geometric Progression kind of thing.
like Facebook was with 15 million users in 2007 and it converted that figure to 70million users in 2008. but it took them 2003 - 2007 to get 15 million users.
I think I have exhausted all the reasons why web ventures don't grow that big in our continent.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Web 2.0 ventures are not making it big in Africa

I was on nairaland the other day and someone asked if the idea of setting up a Nigerian or African wide social network was a good idea.
Personally I think its a good and bad idea. Its good if it helps people share what is valuable to them but it will be bad if its just for fun like or myspace ( Africans dont have money and they dont have free internet ).

These are some of the things to consider to make a successful web 2.0 solution in Africa:

- Daily service : Do they need something from your site everyday, I personally don't visit or everyday but I visit and everyday ( I guess webmasters know why )

- Innovations: if your site keeps getting some innovations, it will cause news and bloggers around will write about you and people will turn to visit your site. Facebook launched the platform and after that new applications have been coming up which make bloggers, journalists write more about facebook and hence giving their site more attention

- updates: if your site gives users some updates by email or phone or TV or , then the users will keep coming to your site.

Those are some of the things I believe are hindering web 2.0 ventures here in Africa. Mainly because Africans just want to replicate success stories in USA back here, but the situation here is different. Build things that will benefit the audience you target and also consider what they have and what they dont have.
For example, Africans will prefer to watch news on TV free of charge than to pay for internet to read the news. I hope you get the reason why some web 2.0 stuffs can work in USA and Europe and not Africa.
Please give me your own views towards this issue by commenting

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Internet As One Big Social Network ( web 5.0)

I guess today is one of those days where I get up with one mad Idea ( my bad ). Well I have this strong feeling that the whole internet can be considered some sort of a rival to myspace, facebook and or hi5, just to name a few of such social networking sites.

Imagine the following:

- Personal blogs or personal sites are to become your profile on this social network

- emails from your blog to another guy or using another guy's contact page to send him/her and email is "internal messaging" on this ambigous social network

- your photos on flikr and videos on youtube embeded on your blog is your gallery on this our big social network

I hope you get the picture now.

Take this as my approach:

I build a big server some where whose job is to register/login people to this whole platform(Internet). for instance to post a comment on a blog or on someones pictures on flickr you have to login to this central server. After you login, any person on any blog will get to know that you are logged in and that person can chat with you, and if you leave your site to another person's blog or website, the system remembers your login status and you can comment on any site supporting the system but the system will check if the owner of the site permits you to comment on his or her content( just like on facebook ).
If you are not friends and you are not permited to comment, then you can invite the owner to become your friend and he or she has to be informed by email then approve it.
You can also get daily feeds from the system informing you about you friends activities, and you can set what you want to recieve and what you dont want to recieve alongside what you want to be broadcasted about you (cool huh ??)
So I go to my site, I login to post a blog, after I check comments on my articles, notice new guys, visit their blogs and I comment without login and the site knows me.
All the system needs is authentication, OpenID, and also friends database, to get connections between friends, not forgeting digitizing friend activities and the internet will be approaching web 5.0 in no time.
and I must say forget Sematic web, because the internet can not stand another chance of change, we are already changing it Semantic Web come catch us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Google Adsense is not working in Africa

Google Adsense the biggest ads network on the planet, which is also known as the "Google money making machine", seems to be a total failure in Africa[IMHO - anyway thats why its on my blog...].
Dont rush to comment yet, read on to get my points.
I have been running and its having atleast 20 unique visitors per day, with such traffic in USA I guess I will be having atleast 2 USD per day, but here in Africa I get 0.1 USD on the average per day. I have also placed adsense on this blog, and , but the overall revenue from the four sites is barely 2USD per week on the average.

I have some small explanations for this though:

- Adworks is not yet used by most African firms, so most adverts that get served to adsense publishers in Africa are mostly for international viewers which is not higly targeted for our African audience and it results to low click through rates.

- A friend of mine who owns gave his own explanation as follows: African publishers are abusing the adsense program thinking its free money and thus Google has put high restrictions to the African part of the Adsense/Adworks network.

If there is any person out there with an African venture that makes a great deal from Adsense, please place a comment so I could know if its me or its Adsense not getting it right in Africa.

For example, a big website as with 200,000 registered members and an estimated daily traffic of about 50,000 unique visitors, I guess the 25 year old owner of the site would be making about 1 million USD per annum but I bet he barely makes 500K USD per annum which can clearly justify my claim that "Google adsense is not working in Africa".

I personally think African web publishers need their own ads network which will be highly targeted to advertising African products so that the African users of our sites will get to see adverts that make more sense to them. This will lead back to my open source Adverts solutions for publishers (code named admark), which I talked about in a previous post below.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Codeigniter is better than the .NET Framework

Codeigniter - , the best php web development framework, is far better than the .NET framework's ASP.NET.
I have never used the .NET framework before but php appears to be much more efficient than all Microsoft technologies such that even Ballmer wants to buy (php) and (php).
When I started programming some three years back, I was contemplating on using php or java for my web solutions. Java was more organised and mature than php but php was easy to install and run. You could find free php servers all around the place alongside soo many free php libraries and classes.
But java was too heavy and difficult to maintain by yourself ( dont get me wrong, to better use codeigniter I advice you to work with java first then apply your java skills on codeigniter projects).
Due to running cost I had to hang on to php.
I later wanted to build a framework that will remove the mess in php and make it orderly like java.
After about a week of hard work on the architecture of my framework, I decided to search the Internet for something similar, so I could rather improve upon or learn from it to build mine. I was shocked to see cakephp ( codeigniter ( symphony and a couple of others.
I tried cake php but it gave me hell, but when I tried codeigniter it was like eating mangoes.
From there on I saw how big and powerfull the framework was and how easy it was to teach a new bie.
Ebot Ndip , one of my students learned php and codeigniter in one week, after working on java for about two months.

I love codeigniter because its affordable and easy to learn and Right here in Africa I can host my own site running apache, php, mysql and Codeigniter, right inside my room with no stress.
I am in support of codeigniter for African developers mainly because, its easy to learn and easy to run. With Codeigniter, an African New Bee can take a period of 5 months to be equal to a guy who has been coding web apps in USA for the past ten years (trust me).

Enough of the Codeigniter jist, lets get down to why its better than .NET

The learning curve:
A new bee can learn codeigniter in one month and start building great functional startup businesses while in .NET you will take about three months to do same.

Hosting issues:
To host your .NET site on your own will cost you alot of money to pay to Microsoft. And in Africa money is what we dont have so I will advice all african web developers to jump unto php and codeigniter and they will never see a reason to learn any other web development framework.

Personally I started off with codeigniter in 2006 and I build in 10 days thanks to codeigniter and phpbb, I built in a week thanks to codeigniter. I could use ruby on rails though but ruby is very stressfull to install and scale ask

Saturday, May 17, 2008

How Microsoft Can Answer Google in Six Months

Microsoft has been investing billions of dollars to catch up with Google on Internet Business.
But I think they have all the money and power to catch up but they have been doing so the wrong way. To me they are not getting it right because they have never had such a rival before.
Microsoft did not grow up with the internet, so they dont understand how to fight someone who actually made the internet valuable (Google).
I have a simple idea:
Microsoft should make Adcenta free of charge to advertisers for six months and the game will change.

What does that mean ?

What I mean is, Microsoft should make advertising on all their websites (via Adcenta) free for the next six months, alongside Microsoft should put engineers in place who will monitor the Adcenta system and the comments from the user base ( which will grow very fast in terms of users and feedback, because the ads are given out for free but still competitive).
This simply means many people will get to try Microsoft Ads even if they are using Google ads. From their comments and feedback Microsoft will then be able to improve their online advertisement targeting technology to compete with Google and even beat Google.

How Bad is it ?

The bad side is: Microsoft will get to loose soo much money from advertisers, but when the people use free advertising they will get use to the Microsoft platform. When they are asked to pay sometime in the future, users wont see any reason to leave and besides the system will be improving from their comments to suit them. This is what they did with windows some years back and this is what Google is doing with Google Apps for your domain. Is Microsoft Too Blind to see this ??

Taking Remix and Featuring from Hip Hop World to Information Technology World

I personally think, Remix and Featuring, two concepts that originated from Sean "P Diddy" Comb's Badboy Entertainment, are nice cultures that can help the Information and Technology Industry grow very fast.
For example if Google could team up with Facebook to release a social web property(hosted on a seperate domain name), all Google fans and facebook fans will use the site and the resulting solution will be a whole new web property that will generate enough revenue for share holders in both companies.
lets say Ebay teams up with Yahoo and they release a new social and marketing platform (hosted on a seperate domain name). This will employ new guys and also bring up more funds and change the way marketing (auction) and communication is done world wide within the space of two months. This is because it will automatically harvest the fan base of both ebay and yahoo.
This Remix and Featuring culture, that is helping hip hop artists make extra money by coming together to work on a song that will sell accross their fan bases is a very interesting business strategy.
Possible remix in the IT space:

Google and Microsoft - enterprise search revolution ( more money for Google, more money for Microsoft)

Yahoo and Facebook - jobs sharing community ( where all yahoo clients can login and share jobs a la facebook style)

you can come up with others.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Google does not love open source

Google the internet giant who uses open source technologies to make billions of dollars every month is actually an enemy to open source just like Microsoft.
Google embraced open source technologies that were geared against Microsoft, and trampled on Microsoft to become web King. But right now their core business (Google money making machines: - Adworks and Adsense) are not open source.
You might think Google is open source but let me make you see this clear.
Google can give you the source code of gmail , google maps, docs and the rest so that you start your own version of the solutions, but they know you will never get a better adverts provider so you will still employ them for adverts and they will make money from your business.
But if you could get a better ads provider they can not give you the codes for free and hence they are scared of open source.
Nobody on earth will have such power and make it open source, and I believe if an open source rival surfaces around the corner it will be a threat to Google’s kingdom.
I personally think if there could be some open source web advertisement solution for websites, where individuals could install the software on their sites and marketers could come and buy space right on their site and they make 100% of the money then Google’s business will drop to some extend.
Ok lets say I build Admark, a php engine (application) which you can install on your site as, and you put a link for marketers (ad buyers) on your site at where they can login, choose keywords or sections of your website where they can include their ads, then the Admark engine will bill them for you and then they pay via paypal or e-gold. It will be just like but this time you market to websites that you know and believe in their traffic. For example I want to market only on, if CNN has installed Admark; I will put my ads only on and on a given page and it will reduce my ads spending. These way marketers will have to study websites where their adverts will make more sense and pay for ads there.
The killer is such a system will run alongside Google ads on the same site with no issues, just like Linux can run alongside windows.
You can login to to view all the transactions, clicks and also profit you have made just like on
Enough of the technology talks, lets get to the implications of such a system.
The system must be open source:
You know open source is always the answer to proprietary technologies like Google’s ads money making engine. Since its open source, many developers on earth will contribute to make the solution better so that they can host it on their sites, blogs or web business’ and in about a year the engine will become as good as Google’s and after some years it will be better because Google’s employees can not out smart the cloud of open source developers around the world.
The system must be written in php and run under Apache:
Php and apache is synonymous to the web, if you don’t use apache and php then you are not on the web. Php has a short learning curve and its also open source, and I believe 99% of web developers know how to code php and the best web developers are php guys who also know java. If the system is done in php, I think many developers will be able to improve the system and also build new plugins and utilities to make the system better, at that point web publishers will have what they want free or paid to improve their adverts engine.
The Admark system won’t be licensed to any company or any person. It will be an open source framework that any person can use to make money off his/her web traffic. Before you know it we won’t depend highly on Google anymore for monetizing our web traffic and in five years the Linux of Google will be finally born.
If such a system is put in place, do you think Google’s dominance on the web will still be as strong as it is?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why Facebook cannot be productive like Google

I guess everybody on the web knows the new kid on the blog, Mark Zuckerberg and his facebook thingy. Its cool and I personally think its the best design I saw on the web in 2007. It is said that "when you build a good thing the money will follow", but its not the case with facebook.
The case of the giant, they did a cool thing (better search results) and the money followed but with Facebook( which can only be the next yahoo and not google), men I dont think it can be the same cycle.
When I visit, I go to search for web pages. While am looking for web pages, if Google shows me related ones I will still be interested in them, because they are related to what I am looking for. But on facebook, I go there to meet people and share pictures and stuff with them, if there was a way to show me how to share the stuff in a better manner and put a price on it, then I will pay, but if you put adverts ( links: remember I am not on facebook for links like on google), I wont care about the adverts because they are not helping me in sharing of stuff and comments.
so facebook could make money if people could pay to advertise their profiles, so that when you visit a friends page, they could show related (paid) pages by his and say "this is another guy check him out". But I dont think any person will do that, why will I pay to advertise my profile anyway? So they will end up like yahoo with no real cash source... lets see in the next years.
All in all Facebook can only get to the level of yahoo, no real value is attached to the activities on facebook that Facebook Inc can sell.

Cameroonian hi5 or facebook to be

The university of buea is the biggest english institution in Cameroon and there is a website for the students and friends of this school hosted at
In the years to come most students in ub will have their profiles there and it will grow to be facebook or hi5 of cameroonians, join now while its growing