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Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Microsoft CEO Nadella in Nairobi earlier today.
Software giant Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is in Nairobi to lead the global launch of Windows 10, the newest iteration of its flagship platform.

Not since the launch of Windows 95 a couple of decades ago is a Windows version this eagerly awaited amidst pre-launch claims of it being the "Best Windows Ever."

And in a move that is surely designed to consolidate its global user base into an addressable database for future interaction, the Redmond, Washington giant is giving all Windows 7/8/8.1 users a free upgrade which can be done online starting today.

Windows is of course an Operating System that runs computers and other Windows compatible devices and provides a platform for third party software applications to also run on personal computers and devices.

Microsoft is itself one of the biggest developers of such applications with its Office Suite dominating machines across the world.

This is of course the platform that was built by demolishing standalone applications such as Word Perfect from WordPerfect Corporation to be replaced by the now ubiquitous Microsoft Word, Lotus 123 from Lotus Corporation whose place was taken by Microsoft Excel, Ashton-Tate Dbase replaced by MS Access amongst others.

After killing off Netscape Navigator, the browser, Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominated how we accessed online content until the rise first of Mozilla Firefox before the now dominant Google Chrome.

With Windows 10 launch, Microsoft expects to recover some of that ground with its new browser Microsoft Edge which it claims is faster and better than Chrome.

It is also packaging Microsoft Cortana which is an assistant sort of like Apple iPhone's Siri and it truly expects Cortana to be revolutionary.

Nadella, appointed to replace the bombastic Steve Ballmer, is terming this the new beginning for Microsoft.

He will launch Windows 10 tonight at the Arboretum in Nairobi. Microsoft says Windows 10 is available for free to Windows 7 and 8 users who can upgrade starting today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


No one is putting up power plants faster than Kengen these days and the pace is only picking up, Hot off the launch of the Ol Karia 280Mw geothermal power, the state generator is now looking to add another 70Mw at the Ol Karia 1 site, to be called unit 6.

It is also doing a brand new power plant, Ol Karia 5 just past where it installed the 140Mw at Ol Karia 4.

In addition, where it used to have only 6 wind turbines on the slopes of Ngong Hills, it has now scaled that up to 30 turbines and is producing 25.5Mw of power to the national grid.
Notably, when you visit the windy Ngong hills area where the project is situated, you see both homes and domesticated livestock operating within the project area.

As the turbine is mounted at the top and power is carried via underground cables to the substation, the tall masts pose no danger.

It also shows how Kengen has perfected the art of dealing with stakeholder communities when putting up its projects.

Even as the privately-owned Kinangop Power project continues to be bogged down in community politics, Kengen is moving to Meru (Nyambene Hills area) where it intends to put up 100Mw of Wind Power which could be scaled up to 400Mw.

Monday, July 20, 2015


US President Barrack Obama's visit to Africa will be beamed across the continent of Africa on a dedicated channel on both DStv and GOTV.

The platform's proprietor Multichoice said DStv channel 199 and GOTV channel 99 will for a whole week showcase President Obama's visit and related activities including live events where the US President and his host President Uhuru Kenyatta will attend.

The channels are Events channels that host occasional shows like Big Brother and Idols. They also showcase one day events like prominent funerals, test channels and so on.

Obama's itinerary shows he will arrive in the country on Friday, July 24  where he will be received by President Kenyatta before departing for his hotel.

On Saturday, Obama will be at State House in the morning for a joint press conference with President Kenyatta before departing for the UN complex at Gigiri to host the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015.

He will be there for one and a half hours before he heads for a meeting with opposition leaders followed by civil society members and will then go back to State House for a closed door meeting.

On Sunday, Obama will address an audience of 5000 at Kasarani indoor stadium including opposition leaders before he takes a tour of the Nairobi National Park. After that, he will be seen off by President Uhuru Kenyatta as his Airforce 1 jet takes off from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

A big contingent of US media is expected to tag along the US President and will likely also offer a lot of coverage and side stories but DStv and GOTV are expected to provide almost non-stop coverage of the intended visit and make it available to its subscribers across the African continent.

Multichoice will begin the Obama-mania coverage from Wednesday 22 July up till Tuesday, 28 July.

It will team up with KBC Channel 1 and Heritage TV who will also provide live coverage.

Several hundred US business men and investors are expected in the country and will also provide interesting stories for coverage.


Beleaguered telco Bharti Airtel has agreed to explore the possibility of having its units in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Sierra Leone taken over by the French Operator, APO news agency said.

Nairobitech broke the news of a possible exit by Airtel and subsequent expression of interest by Orange.

Orange is said to be interested in the Francophone units of Airtel and the fact that DRC is missing from this list is significant.

The Indian telco Airtel has struggled to replicate its low cost model in Africa with Kenya being particularly difficult.

Often it has been felt the company brass should let local talent run with their more enterprising ideas for this market if it is to make headway against dominant Safaricom.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Top brass at Airtel's Parkside Towers offices were furious with a local developer who opted to shut down code that subscribers rely on to make USSD queries such as balance, reloading bundles and the like.
The developer, apparently hired through Airtel's IT support services partner IBM, reportedly pulled the plug on the code which had been deployed to several African countries operations after a disagreement with his client.

As a result, Airtel's subscribers have been unable to make simple requests or even purchase data bundles.

Reacting fast, bosses at Parkside have brought in two programmers who worked with the renegade developer to restore the code.

Kenya is largely said to have recovered and other countries are also being addressed as well.

Sources said the developer whom we can only name as Bob was "incredibly stupid" to pull of such a move especially with so many other local developers lining up to market their solutions to Airtel/IBM.

The move is seen as impacting negatively on local developers whom the multinationals might never want to enter into contracts with going forward.


Kenya's second largest bank will on Monday launch its mobile money platform Equitel after a long-drawn battle in courts and parliament mainly with industry bellwether Safaricom.

The service which allows mobile users to carry out many banking functions currently unavailable on telco platforms marks the beginning of what is expected to be a marketing war that can only benefit agencies and media outlets.

Equity is fresh off a hard-fought victory at the law courts where its intention to use a thin SIM overlay technology had been contested by Safaricom as a data security threat.

Despite its muted approach the service now has well over 500,000 subscribers that it will look to build on once it can formally roll out the product.

At stake is the next frontier of banking where the phone number will likely be seen as the key identifier and a de facto bank account.

Payments from person to person, person to business, business to business and even government to people (pensions) and people to government (license fees, stamp duties, taxes etc) will also be fought over tooth and nail.

Safaricom is the dominant player in the mobile financial services sector and has recently upgraded and relocated its popular MPESA service to handle more transactions in a fraction of the time it used to before.

Equity on the other hand, is the largest brick and mortar lender in the country by customer numbers and also the second largest in most other categories trailing only KCB Group.

It is seen as the first viable challenger to Safaricom on the mobile financial services sector with hard charging CEO James Mwangi expected to leverage on the grassroots lender's vast rural customer base to entrench Equitel.

With free cash flow equal to what Equity makes before taxes, Safaricom is not expected to sit on its laurels either and is likely to intensify its marketing efforts.

The telco is in the process of restructuring itself to devolution by appointing regional heads of business with profit and loss responsibilities who can address different parts of Kenya specifically.

They will report to a Chief Commercial Officer, a position rendered redundant after Bob Collymore restructured the organization shortly after he became CEO.

It was then held by Peter Arina who left the company earlier this year as the Director of the Consumer Business.

Indications are that Safaricom may also introduce the position of Chief Operations Officer, COO, but that is yet to be confirmed.

Equity is seen pegging its appeal to lower charges. It claims the cost of electronic money transfer is negligible and should not be costing Kenyans that much.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Why I have Stopped Using my Startimes

By Dickson Otieno
I have a problem with Startimes: Poor signal. I know it is because of the location. Moi University main campus is in the village. But that’s far from the point. I have a couple of other issues.
Back in December of 2013 I bought one of those set top boxes from Startimes. I was to use it in Maseno area. And it worked, and still works well. Signal strength 42%, Signal quality 68%. Then last month I bought the new Startimes SD set top box. I remember tweeting them and asking for a HD box and they said they weren’t yet available.
Setting it up was a struggle. The guy who was supposed to help me set it up from Startimes could only be available after one week. And the box was for some reasons also faulty: Smartcard error. So I had to travel 41km to town, have the box replaced and set it up myself. Internal aerial wouldn’t do. External only. And the external aerial, said the customer care ‘executive’ via a phone call, should face a particular direction......Read the rest on


IT services major, IBM, was reportedly thrown out of the government's Police Security Network where it was supposed to provide back office analytics of data collected from the network including photographs of people, number plates, premises and so on.

The network is being built at a cost of Sh14.9billion by Safaricom and is set for handover to the government in November.

A Command and Control Centre where images from high-resolution Huawei PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras are monitored on giant wall screens was set up at Jogoo House where the project was allocated one floor of the iconic building.

IBM was supposed to take half of the floor to set up for its analytics where it would receive and synthesize the data before presenting analysis that intelligence authorities could make decisions with (Decison-making support data).

But apparently, according to people with knowledge of Big Blue's ejection, the multinational "messed it up badly". They did not elaborate.

Government is now said to be looking for an alternative analytics company with NEC Systems said to be the front runner.

"NEC offers a highly efficient and user-friendly video analytics solution that monitors behaviors and flags any actions pre-determined as unusual. This software ‘Behavior Analyzer’ automatically detects suspicious behavior such as intrusion, loitering, and object abandonment based on user-defined time and location parameters. It can distinguish between humans, shadows and moving objects," the company says on its website.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


A bid to bring down local website Kahawa Tungu using an Italian firm named the Hacking Team failed when the Hackers told the government official behind the scheme that they did not offer such services.

New documents released through Wikileaks detail emails between alleged Kenya government staff and global surveillance software seller Hacking Team.

In the email exchanges that also include a Kenyan private firm purportedly acting for the government officer, the Hacking Team is asked to bring down local website Kahawa Tungu, ran by controversial blogger Robert Alai, as proof of its capabilities.

However, in response, the Hacking Team says the site in question appears to be a news site that reports on government corruption and says it should not be involved.

At that point, the contact person at the Italian firm tells the Kenyan team that perhaps it misunderstood the sort of professional services on offer and asks them to read an attached document as proof of concept.

Contact seems to have been initiated by a Chris Kinyanjui said to work with Com 21, a local IT firm who introduced his client as one Eric Mwangi of the Cyber security department at the OP.

The link to the Wikileak site is here

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Airtel's rumoured Africa exit seems more imminent daily with industry rumours indicating that Orange has bid for its DRC, Gabon and Chad business units.

Insiders say the Indian headquarters of the Bharti Airtel Group are fed up with the inability of the African business to break even five years after its entry into the continent via a buyout of the Zain Group.

Nomura Singapore stock analysts are reported to have said in a note to investors that the Airtel's African business has a negative (-2%) return on invested capital and that shows no signs of changing.

They advised that Airtel should sell. Yesterday, Airtel told Indian regulators that it has sold its Cell phone towers in 5 African countries for US$1.3billion.

In the first three months of this year, it saw its African revenues drop 13 per cent compared to the first three months of 2014 while its net loss in Africa stood at $183million (Sh18.2bn)

Orange on the other hand, is said to be looking to amalgamate its emerging markets business under Orange Africa and was reported by Reuters to be also looking at Millicom International Group's assets.

Meantime, at Parkside Towers, where Airtel runs its African business from, more heads continue to roll as it cuts what it deems are unnecessary big-salaried positions.

The company is yet to issue an official statement on the matter.