Free Android development training for women

In honor of International Women’s Day which was celebrated March 8, 2016, The Namibia Women in Computing Society (NWIC), the Namibia Business Innovation Institute(NBII)’s Developers’ Circle and the Google Developers Group (GDG) have the pleasure to present an Android Development training for beginners aimed at women in the Windhoek area.

It’s a free two-day workshop to learn how to design and build mobile applications using Android! We will have women trainers and we welcome professional women and students from all areas of Computing and Informatics.

What is Android?

Android is a mobile operating system (OS) developed by Google, based on the Linux kernel and designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It is now used on upwards of 80% of all the worlds mobile devices.

Android Training Details:

Training is scheduled to take place on the 22 April 2016 from 17:30-21:30 and 23 April 2016 from 09:00-17:00 at the NBII Innovation Village, 1-3 Gluck Street, Windhoek West, located near the NUST Library.

Attendees will learn how to create mobile apps for Android. By the end of the training, we will have built a fully-functioning mobile app! We’ll also be taking a look at the various skills needed to develop apps, like Programming, User Interface Design, Workflow and Process flow design, Project Management, etc…

There are no prerequisites for applicants other than that they must be female and available for the given dates and time.

Although bringing your own laptop is desired, we can provide the laptop/computer to work on. All other software & tools will be provided!

Free Android programming training for women

Share this with your network (group, peers, students,learners, colleagues, etc.) If you have any questions please feel free to email me at [email protected]

How to apply:

If you are interested to participate in this training please fill in your registration form here before or on the 18th of April, 2016.

We hope to see you there!

2nd Namibian Open Data Hackathon underway

2nd Namibia Open Data Hackathon

The 2nd annual Namibian ‘Open Data’ hackathon is underway at the Namibian Business Innovation Institute’s (NBII) Mobile Lab located on the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) grounds. The hackathon event runs all whole day on the 5th and 6th of March, 2016.  Participants form teams and focus on one of 5 areas of public service delivery to create software enabled solutions to them. Follow up prototype presentations are to be held at 5:30pm at the same venue on Thursday, 10th March, 2016.

Lamech Amugongo working on tracking Windhoek's public transport.
Lamech Amugongo working on tracking Windhoek’s public transport.

“To create awareness around using open data to improve efficiency in Namibian social and civil service delivery.”

The event is organized by Lamech Amugongo, a software developer who has been active in the nascent innovation and open data scene in Namibia, and NBII’s Mobile Lab which provided the space and internet access.

What is ‘Open Data’?

‘Open Data’ refers to the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. In the context of this hackathon that means accessing public data around social services and identifying where improvements using software based solutions could be made.

For example a UK based startup , TransportAPI,  aggregated all British public transport information ranging from bicycle lanes to city underground train schedules into an easily accessible API which is now used to build apps by various municipalities and businesses alike.

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Gervasius Ishuuwa working on the eHealth solution

Over 15 participants attended and created 5 teams that focused on creating software based improvements to service delivery in:

  • Water utility services
  • Medical health based services
  • City public transport services
  • Emergency response services
  • Food Bank access services

Lamech says he created the event to create awareness around using open data to improve efficiency in Namibian social and civil service delivery. Teams will present their prototypes at the Mobile Lab on Wednesday and are expected to present final versions at the national ICT summit taking place later this year.

A highlight of this hackathon event was that teams got to work with smartcitizen.me‘s Arduino kits which include various sensors for environmental data.

The atmosphere at this year’s event was lively with developers fully engaged in the projects they are working on. Participants remarked on how events of this type were sorely needed and must take place more frequently in the future. The event is expected to expand into different regions of Namibia in 2017.

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1st Namibian YouthMobile programming workshop gets underway

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On 11th-23rd November 2015, The Tech Guys in conjunction with P.A.Y. Namibia and UNESCO Namibia held a 10 day YouthMobile Computer Science Principles workshop which culminated in 6 teams presenting 6 Android app prototypes built using the MIT App Inventor IDE.

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17 students took part for an average of 5 hours per day exploring themes from digital literacy to how technology impacts their communities and how programming can be used to solve problems within their own communities. 12313606_775510622576056_8345678228013224713_n

The course material has been adapted from various open source repositories such as csunplugged.org, code.org et al. The aim of the workshop was to build at least 4 Android application prototypes aimed at creating a social impact within their communities. The teams managed to present 6 promising prototypes ranging from an SMS crime alert app to a University of Namibia campus navigation system.

Results from the workshop will be tabulated and discussed in an upcoming stakeholder meeting to be held at the UNESCO house in Windhoek later this week.

The workshop is part of a drive to reform the state of computer programming education in Namibia at a national level and also works as a short feasibility study which is to be extended in 2016.

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How To Speak Startup in Africa

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Many a times have I sat with various people across myriad entities we engage with locally in Namibia and in broader Africa and have been met with incredulous stares followed by ‘Say What Now?’ at the language that we employ.

If you work in the tech startup space (or have recently binge watched HBO’s Silicon Valley), you will notice that people speak with terms and abbreviations which might lead you to wonder if programmers have applied Zip compression to the English language while speaking.

In Namibia, and I suspect most of the emerging economies around the globe, this lingo tends to leave even IT managers of large scale firms scratching their heads. That being said, there is a lot to say for tech startups in Africa creating their own set of flummoxing abbreviations but let’s leave that discussion for another day.

However, The Tech Guys is here to demystify startup lingo into a more common lingua franca. The tech startup nerds in Africa, after all, are worth trying to understand as they’ll probably be the integral puzzle piece for African prosperity in the 21st century and beyond.

So, without further ado, I give you How To Speak Startup(Try not to be too serious about it….seriously though.):

Tech Startup – An unfunded group of people with an idea that potentially solves a problem using technology. They probably don’t sell or fix your PC’s or do email server installations. Not to be confused with your workplace IT helpdesk.

Code – what software engineers/programmers do.

Disrupt – To make a previous way of doing things look bad by using technology to do it a new and vastly better way.

MVP(Minimum Viable Product) – A prototype of your startup idea, that usually is little more than a Powerpoint presentation.

Acqui-hire – A strategy for acquiring talent pioneered by Google in the mid-2000s that happens when a bigger company thinks your team is good but your idea is hilariously bad. Also called a “signing bonus.”

Failure – A bad thing that has recently put on a pedestal as something to be celebrated.

Cashflow Positive – Someone gave us a dollar.

Pivot – What happens when a company realizes its course of action is not living up to expectations. (See also, Failure.)

SaaS (Software as A Service) — It loses money.

Pre-Money Valuation – A number you made up.

Post-Money Valuation – A number that you made up alongside your VC with the addition of some cash. Your burn rate is probably too high.

“I work in PR.” – I am, in fact, in possession of several journalists’ email addresses.

Exit – Exits come in two different flavors for entrepreneurs: good and bad. Good exits happen when you’re “killing it,” your company hasn’t killed you yet, and another company comes along to buy yours. (See possibly, acqui-hire.) Bad exits are another way of saying you failed to disrupt much of anything besides your VC’s portfolio performance.

“I’m a serial entrepreneur.” – Person who had two ideas, both of which failed.

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The Space – Because calling the field in which they’re operating an industry, vertical or even genre is too hard, entrepreneurs like referring to their company as being a player in a given space. They especially like doing this when they know they’re in a crowded market. We don’t know why they do this either.

VC – 1) Venture capitalists raise money from wealthy individuals and institutions and dump lots of said money into young companies in exchange for a cut of the company. 2) An institutional dealer of pharmaceutical-grade Opium. (See also, Opium.)

Opium – OPM, or “other people’s money,” is an incredibly addictive substance to entrepreneurs that’s rarely respected or missed until it dries up.

“We’re doing great.” – We are not doing great.

SF / The Valley – 1. The place you refer to when convincing government officials that investing in tech initiatives is a good thing. 2. A place that VC’s and tech luminaries talk up as the greatest place on Earth that you must move to if you’re from anywhere that isn’t San Fransisco or The Valley.

“We’re growing 500 percent week-over-week” — Last week we had one user, today we have six.

“We’re not currently raising capital.” — We’re currently raising capital.

UI/UX – A portmanteau of UI (“User Interface”) and UX (“User Experience”) often used by design-challenged entrepreneurs when referring to the aesthetics and usability of their product when actual understanding of good design principles is fundamentally lacking. Used in a sentence: “Our Push for the ‘Find My Goat A Date’ app is crushing it because of our design wizard who is slinging some hella dope UI/UX.”

“We’re a design-centric organization.” – We don’t know how to code.

Non-GAAP Profitable — What companies that are very unprofitable like to claim. The idea that non-cash costs don’t count is usually the sort of sickness you see here.

“I’m the business guy.” – (See: Growth Hacker.)

Gravity — What The Tech Guys is trying to escape using maximum thrust. (Yes, we are going to build rockets.)

Growth Hacking – Sales, marketing and associated activities, but with a label that incorporates the word “hacking,” because nontechnical people want to call themselves “hackers” too.

“We’re seeing great gross margins, and so are investing in growth given our strong, SaaS unit-economics.” — We lose money.

“We’re stomping on the gas pedal, given our strong SaaS unit-economics, and are actively seeking additional capital to power our sector-leading growth.” — We have lost all our money and need some of yours, please.

“We’re Killing It!” – Your dreams and investors’ dollars are probably being killed.

We hope this helps you navigate your encounters with tech nerds or wannabes.

This is a modified version of TechCrunch’s Alex Willhelm and Jason Rowley’s 2014 article with some adjustments to locally contextualize things ;-)!

AMPION Venture Bus in Namibia

The AMPION Venture Bus competition touched down in Windhoek on the 10th of November with the participants accommodated at the Safari Hotels (who were generous enough to sponsor us a conference hall and free wi-fi on short notice). The actual event hosted by us which included a hackathon and startup pitch sessions took place the next day(11th November) at the NBII Mobile Lab located at the Polytechnic of Namibia Innovation Village.

Ampioneers arriving at the Polytechnic of Namibia's Innovation Village
Ampioneers arriving at the Polytechnic of Namibia’s Innovation Village

36 participants came together to travel from Harare to Cape Town and build 9 startup teams of which E-Maji, a device to monitor biological water contamination at source, was chosen as winner at the final pitch held at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town. This year saw an awesome batch of participants with various backgrounds from MIT graduates, former Vodacom managers, investment bankers and of course developers from Africa and around the globe.

A total of six Namibian participants qualified to board the bus. Two of those, Anastacia Shipepe of team MEM(a platform to facilitate growth for SME’s in Africa)  and Harry Moon of team DaMark.com (a platform to bridge the gap between formal and informal business sector in Africa) represented Namibia in 2014.

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Ampioneers at the AMPION Venture Bus event in Windhoek.

With help from SAIS, Microsoft,  NBII, Red Bull, Intouch Interactive Media and information.na we managed to host a great event where participants got to hone their startup ideas during the day’s hackathon and a gruelling afternoon pitch session presided over by a local and international panel of judges.

We had the chance to meet some awesome people and facilitate the first Namibian participants and make some noise about startups to get interest in Namibia going. To follow up on the bus coming to Windhoek, we will be facilitating meetings between Namibian and SADC tech hubs to find points of synergy in the upcoming months. We will also be working with local players in innovation to expand the Venture Bus idea in a local context.

Prof. Jurgen Sieck of the Berlin University of Applied Science giving a talk on innovation in the mobile space at the AMPION event in Windhoek.
Prof. Jurgen Sieck of the Berlin University of Applied Science giving a talk on innovation in the mobile space at the AMPION event in Windhoek. Juha Miettinen, CTA of SAIS to his left.

We are also happy to announce that SAIS, Leap Namibia, information.na and Microsoft are already onboard for next year’s bus. We’ll keep you updated on how the movement grows going forward and thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPLY NOW FOR THE AMPION VENTURE BUS 2014!

 

What is Venture Bus?

 

40 entrepreneurs on 1 bus for 5 days through 4 African countries! Designers, business experts and developers meet on the Venture Bus and team up (usually into 8 groups) to create innovative startups providing solutions to local challenges in Africa, specifically Namibia in our case. Yes, the Venture Bus is coming to Windhoek! Whoop!

Continue reading “APPLY NOW FOR THE AMPION VENTURE BUS 2014!”

A chat with founder of MXit, Herman Heunis.

Recently we caught up with Herman Heunis founder of Africa’s biggest social network MXit which now has over 7 million active users. Having made his successful exit from active duties at MXit in 2011, we asked him some questions regarding what it takes to succeed as a tech entrepreneur in Africa today.

TG: You left Namibia for Stellenbosch in the late 70s, how was it being a programmer during that time?

HH: Some background, I was born in Namibia (Rehoboth), my parents had a sheep farm near Kalkrand (My grandparents and great-grandparents were all from Southern Namibia). I matriculated at Jan Mohr in 1976 and in 1977 I started a B.Comm degree at Stellenbosch University. In those years computers filled entire buildings. The 1st time I worked on a computer was in 1977 at Stellenbosch University – Computer Science 101. My career as a programmer started in 1980 whilst I was doing my compulsory 2 year National Service in the SA Navy.

TG: How did you come upon the original idea for MXit? Was it a flash in the pan moment or an iterative process?

HH: It was an iterative process. In a nutshell, the very original idea (root) of MXit was an Astral SMS-based game – I believe it was one of the very first Massive Multiplayer Mobile Game (MMMG) in the world. It did not work due to a number of reasons but the main one, lack to find a sponsor for SMSs. An integral part of the game was communication between players. After several metamorphoses we dropped the game idea and focused only on the communication part – that worked extremely well. Years later we introduced several gaming platforms on top of the communications platform.

TG: What were your biggest challenges as a tech startup in Africa?

HH: Many. Lack of human resources (software developers) was the biggest challenge. Funding, affordable and stable internet bandwidth, unstable platforms (and lack of expertise), the press, mobile operators, etc.

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TG: What in your opinion are the main characteristics a tech startup founder should have?

HH: Perseverance, Passion (for tech), Visionary, Disruptive(Rebellious ?)

TG: There aren’t a lot of tech startups in Africa that have reached the kind of success MXit has, do you think there is a specific reason for this?

HH: Timing was perfect and I had a fantastic team. The word “failure” was never an option.

TG: Is there a particular technology that excites you which you would like to see more innovation by Africans in?

HH: Most technology excites me but currently Energy (solar, batteries, fuel cells, etc) is on the brink of major paradigm shift. I think personal wearable devices, monitoring and recording all sorts of data, will be huge. In Africa we might not have the leading (sometimes called bleeding) edge R&D capabilities, but we surely have the in ingenuity to utilize these inventions and take it to another level.

TG: Do you believe that there is an emerging identity of the African tech user or do you think there is a general global homogenisation due to the critical mass movement of technology adoption around the world?

HH: Strangely I think we have a combination of both right now but that will (should) eventually disappear as the tech space (internet access, devices, user savvy etc.) in Africa gets on par with the rest of the world. Then there are more practical issues such as legislation, e-commerce, language, etc. that tech startups need to consider.

TG: Location is always touted as a major component for tech startup founders to think about when deciding to set up, should African tech startup founders be more wary of where they set themselves up in your opinion?

HH: Tricky question – I think starting up is one thing, building/growing the business is another. Access to infrastructure, HR, users, funding, etc. are important – if your location does not have these, you might have a problem. Having said that, some tech startups will depend more on the ideal location than others. Building a large social network on mobile is different to patenting a new type of battery. Coming back to MXit, I think the fact that MXit started in Stellenbosch was a good choice – access to University graduates, access to funding, access to bandwidth, very large potential userbase (with featured phones) and we knew the mobile Operators landscape pretty well.

I think the mistake we made was to stay in Stellenbosch only, too long. My opinion is that we should have moved our head office in 2007 (2 years after we started) to San Francisco. Maybe we could have been the biggest social network in the world today (bigger than Facebook)? Why do I think it was a mistake? 100 times better access to funding, 1000 times better access to software developers and great NETWORKING opportunities with other similar companies.

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TG: MXit is Africa’s largest social network with over 40 million users worldwide and as a firm employs more than 150 people now, when you made your exit in 2011 did you have misgivings about leaving?

HH: When I started MXit – there was no exit plan. I started MXit as I was passionate about technology. The ride from 2004 to 2011 was very tough and selling a company that you have started is traumatic. Fact of the matter was, I was extremely tired and burned out and staying on as CEO was not in the interest of the company. MXit needed new blood and new energy.

TG: Do you think more African tech founders should be building their startups with exit strategies in mind?

HH: I do not. Cannot do harm but the question is, are you doing it for the money or because of passion?

TG: You have said in previous interviews that you saw your strength in founding rather than managing large companies, does that make you a serial entrepreneur? Are there more ventures for you on the horizon?

There are no ventures on the horizon right now. Am I a serial entrepreneur? I don’t know if starting 2 or 3 businesses makes you one?

TG: What advice would you give young Namibian software developers/ tech entrepreneurs?

HH: Do as much research as you can possibly do. Ask yourself the question, how will my product/service be different. Will it be chat worthy – will people talk about it?

Surround yourself with likeminded, honest people. A startup is not for sissies – doing it solo is tough.

TG: Do you still visit Namibia? Do you have any hopes for the tech sector there?

HH: We visit Namibia many times a year. Recently (13 Dec 2013) I did the Desert Dash 24 hour 369km Mountain bike race from Windhoek to Swakopmund, solo. In October I cycled from Noordoewer to Swakopmund. We go to Kaokoland on a regular basis to do photography.

If you ask an optimist if there is any hope – the answer will always be YES!

ASM.JS to take gaming and big data by storm

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Respawning! Console quality gaming for web?

Web gaming is about to get a makeover. The folks over at Mozilla recently came up with asm.js, a subset of the javascript computing language, which allows for compilation of programs on ANY platform at near native compile speeds. In other words this means blazing-fast-rich-big-data web applications on ANY relevant platform or device that has a decent browser and internet connection.

For a more hands on description of what I mean head over to MonsterMadness Online a game developed by Trendy Ent using the Unreal Engine which works on, well…as I said anything purchased in the last five years that has a decent browser on it and a half decent (512kbps for a slightly choppy but playable experience) internet connection. Continue reading “ASM.JS to take gaming and big data by storm”