Monday, 17 May 2010

Does Startups Have To Be DotComs ?

I find it really interesting to watch the activities of several technology startup companies across Africa through many blogs that pay attention to such companies. One trend I notice is that almost everyone talking about startups in Africa is basically talking about on-line businesses. The moment you hear "startup" it's almost certain you will hear "web 2.0" or "dotcom" in the same discussion. I think there is more to tech startups than just web based businesses. Some of the technology businesses that changed the course of history were not web oriented. Agreed Google is a glaring example of an excellent web oriented business but how many Googles do we plan to create locally? Microsoft which is the largest software company in the world is still trying to get it's web strategy right.
I am not saying that web startups shouldn't be encouraged but let us not forget that startups do not really have to be dotcoms. In fact very few dotcoms are able to solve real world business challenges in Africa. Let us promote the idea of tech startups in general and not limit ourselves to dotcoms.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

FOSS Nigeria 2010

The second Nigerian free and open source software conference took place from 23rd to 25th of April 2010. The conference was tagged FOSS Nigeria 2010 and it took place and the Center For Democratic Research And Training, Mambayya House in Kano, Nigeria. The main sponsors of the conference are Hutsoft Nigeria limited and the Center For Information Technology (CIT) of the Bayero University Kano. I attended the first conference FOSS Nigeria 2009 last year and have noticed quite some improvement in the organization of the event which shows that the organizers are keen on making it a really great event.

Mustapha Abubakar of Hutsoft

Adrian de Groot K.D.E ev's vice president who was here last year attended this year's event from Netherlands while Frederik Gladhorn a K.D.E developer came from Germany.

Frederik Gladhorn

I am happy to note that this year's event has some participants from the Southern part of Nigeria. I had a brief chat with a team that told me that they are from Ibadan. LPI-Nigeria also sent a representative from Ibadan who conducted the LPI examinations for participants at a good discount. I never got Mr Ola's last name but he is a great guy.

Ola, Frederik, Adriaan and Mustapha at a restaurant.

The range of topics on which talks were given are broad. This range from introduction to K.D.E and Gnome desktops to localizations and open source 3D modelling.

Muhammad Ahmad Abubakar and Abubakar Dala of 3D Formular giving a live demo of blender

Talks were given by the following people

Adriaan De Groot (K.D.E ev)
Auwal Alhassan Tata (CIT, Bayero University Kano)
Frederik Gladhorn (FSFE)
Mustapha Abubakar (Hutsoft Nigeria Limited)
Murtala Kazaure
Ibrahim Abubakar Dasuma (Hutsoft Nigeria Limited)
Abubakar Dala and Muhammad Ahmad Abubakar (3D Formula)

I also gave a talk on making money with free software. I was quite surprised by the way it was received. I noticed some participants taking notes during the talk which tells me that they are keen on implementing some of the ideas I talked about.

This year's event saw the distribution of linux distro CDs (Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Opensuse) to participants. The last day was closed by the presentation of traditional Fulani dresses to Adriaan and Frederik.