Wednesday, August 17, 2011

News from Kenya: food price spike worsen hunger, smartphone sales skyrocket

While the emergency in the Horn of Africa was triggered by prolonged droughts, especially in areas struggling with conflict and internal displacement such as Somalia, food prices that are near the record high levels seen in 2008 also contributed to the situation.
- The World Bank, Food Price Watch report according to The Guardian, August 2011 / Africa famine: soaring food prices intensifying crisis, report warns.

In a related news report by France 24 a 14 years old is armed with an AK-47 when herding his skinny goats in drought stricken northern Kenya.



Earlier this year, the Chinese firm Huawei unveiled IDEOS through Kenya’s telecom titan, Safaricom. So far, this $80 smartphone has found its way into the hands of 350,000+ Kenyans, an impressive sales number in a country where 40% of the population lives on less than two dollars a day. The IDEOS’s success in this market firmly establishes the open source Android as the smartphone of the people and demonstrates how unrelenting upswings in price-performance can jumpstart the spread of liberating technologies.
- Singularity Hub, August 2011 / $80 Android Phone Sells Like Hotcakes in Kenya, the World Next? (via Slashdot).

The tecnical specs are just slightly below those of "our" iPhones, Samsungs and HTCs but the price is about one tenth (yes, 1/10). In other words, Huawei and Google just saved Kenyans (800 USD minus 80 USD) times 350.000 equalling 252 million USD. At least. (Shows how incredibly conservative my 3 billion USD estimate on how much Linux has saved people and business recently was; see Apple, PCs, Linux and the economy.)

An entrepreneurial conference in Nairobi called Pivot25 showcased some of the most innovative Android apps in East Africa. Among these include M-Farm, an app that allows farmers to broadcast product prices and locations to the world via SMS. Another agri-app developed by Makerere University helps diagnose and track the spread of crop diseases via crowdsourcing. In a nation where agriculture accounts for nearly a quarter of GDP, apps like these could prove invaluable in maximizing harvests and facilitating the spread of precision farming.



[This blog post has been cross-posted to Ecowar and TH!NK3.]