Slow start to 2009

January 20, 2009

Its been a crazy couple of months with lots happening, but I have promised myself to start blogging again.

Busy with a research project here in South Africa, getting to see interesting people and places.

Posted via email from Design in Africa

Design, research and business strategy

November 10, 2008

Good article from Robert Fabricant at Frog Design about Jan Chipchase and his work, which highlights the importance of design research and how it fits into business strategy.

‘He is now finding that his most meaningful collaborations are with strategy groups within Nokia. He has been invited into much larger conversations about new markets and product strategies’

And ‘The passion that comes from direct contact, true connection to specific social needs, has become an essential force in managing strategic decisions.’

Research and design play a pivotal role in Nokias strategy, building a solid design strategy. Future research directions have been developed to form Agenda 2015 which focuses on the following areas:

  • User and context modeling
  • Physically Personal Devices
  • Human Interface
  • Mixed Reality
  • Creativity
  • Scalable Service Platforms
  • Dynamic Wireless
  • Internet of Things

Nokia says this is the foundation for research over the coming years to discover the breakthroughs that will open up new business for the company. Nokia’s strategy relies on growing, transforming, and building the Nokia business to ensure its future success.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

A Better World by Design

November 8, 2008

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Keep updated on A Better World by Design through Niti Bhan and Erik Hersman who is covering it on Afrigadget with photos here.

Todays (Saturday) schedule should be interesting; Paul Polak, Erik Hersman, Ken Banks and Niti Bhan talking early in the morning.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Ushahidi in Democratic Republic of Congo

November 8, 2008

Ushahidi is being deployed in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) as a working prototype.

‘We need to get the message to the people on the ground in the Eastern Congo that this tool is now available for them to report incidents in on. If you have contacts there, or can help spread the word through some other means, it would be a great help if you did so – even if it’s just point them to the website or telling them about the SMS number.’

The number is +243992592111 website is http://drc.ushahidi.com/

Spread the word.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Nokia Life Tools; Inform, Involve, Empower

November 4, 2008

Latest from Nokia; ‘Inform, Involve, Empower – Nokia’s service mantra for emerging markets with Nokia Life Tools

“Filling in the information gaps in agriculture and education withNokia Life Tools, we strive to contribute towards empowering people with the right tools to help them make informed decisions in their daily lives,” said Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head of Emerging Market Services, Nokia. “Nokia Life Tools was developed to help bridge the digital divide in the emerging markets.”

What stands out for me is the commitment Nokia is showing towards education; ‘The Education service of Nokia Life Tools aims to give students a decisive advantage by boosting their English language and local, national and international general knowledge. Language lessons, quizzes on English words and phrases, and the general knowledge information were designed – together with EnableM for the pilot – to give students
an edge. In future, the Education service will also come with information on higher education and career guidance and tips, exam preparation, quizzes and access to exam results.’

Nokia also launched their cheapest phone today, the 1202, which should come in at €25. Features include a flashlight, 9 hour talk time and has multiple phone books and time and pre-paid tracker.

Nokia shows how its done once again.


Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Obama – 44th president of USA

November 4, 2008

Lets hope he gets it.

Image credit


Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Mobile internet research

November 2, 2008

Tino Kreutzer is working on a research project, Getting the Numbers Straight that looks into mobile usage, particularly internet use by low income teens in Cape Town. Tino has quire rightly discovered that there is not enough data currently available in this growing area.

Here are some quick numbers; 97% have used Internet from a cell phone, 83% use the internet on a typical day. Almost half of their mobile use is dedicated to the internet on a daily basis. Here is what they do in order of popularity on an average day;

  • get news or weather online
  • download songs, videos or ringtones
  • go online for no particular reason
  • send and receive email
  • information about a hobby or interest
  • hunt for a particular fact
  • use an instant messaging client
  • look for health or medical information
  • information about movies, books or other leisure activities
  • information on further education
  • look for information for school

The implications for learning applications on the (mobile) internet is an opportunity space that is only beginning to be realized as a tool for change.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

Nokia Open Studios

October 31, 2008

Great work by Youghee Jung and Jan Chipchase. Download the report here or here if you are at all interested in exploratory design research, design research methodology, user centered design, emerging markets, mobiles and anything else that blows your hair back.

Read the report, highly recommended. Image is from the report.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

M-PESA, why it works

October 29, 2008

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Nice commentary from Ryan Hahn on Nick Hughes’ (head of Vodafone‘s international mobile payment solutions) talk at CGAP regarding the success of M-PESA, a mobile banking solution

Why it works;

  1. They focused entirely on offering a single service, and doing it well; transferring money between 2 people using a mobile phone.
  2. M-PESA is simple and easy to use and to set up. All a person needs is a Safaricom SIM and National ID/Passport.
  3. No bank account is needed, which immediately allows a large percentage of Kenyans to avoid the difficulty and complexity of using a bank.
  4. Overcoming this hurdle has led to increased user acceptance; over 4 million subscribers.
  5. M-PESA makes its money by charging commissions on money transfers rather than on investing money. Alternative business model.
  6. Vodafone is looking to replicate that success in other markets. Scalable.
  7. Research done by Olga Morawczynski shows that migrant workers are the early adopters who influence other people to use the service.
  8. The value? Time and money is saved by people having to travel long distances to the nearest bank.
  9. 3,500 frontline agents countrywide means even rural communities are benefiting economically.

M-PESA  delivers a simple valuable service using available resources that is understood and accepted.

I know M-PESA has been around for a while, but successful case studies are proven over time.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)

The global recession and foreign aid

October 26, 2008

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So, although Africa looks like it might be okay in the immediate future while the rest of the world collapses, there is a possibility that foreign aid will be affected; ‘there is also a danger that foreign aid might decline. But that’s based on two other events. One is that there’s a major recession in the US and Europe, or in the donor countries. And second, whether the spending allocations that governments make will lead to cutbacks in foreign aid.’ Shanta Devarajan, Chief Economist of the World Bank’s Africa Region, BBC.

Yes, there is a major recession and it look like promises made by the G8 are not on track, according to the DATA report, 2007, (pdf link).

If there is a dramatic decrease in foreign aid in the near future, now is the time to seriously think about alternatives. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Posted by email from Design in Africa (posterous)


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