2012 is here, I don’t know about you but I have started my countdown to December 21, 2012 (just in case the Mayans were right); this leaves us twelve months to make it count. My last article was a toast to a great ‘tech year’-2011-now is the time to revisit the drawing board and carve out a plan for 2012.
First of all we need to focus on tailoring solutions for our needs. One example is applications engineered to work with say, SMS, given that smart phones have not penetrated the market.
I use this example because SMS is an invaluable tool for distribution of information allowing SMS publishers to create and monetize their content and it would make no sense to build apps for smart phones because that wouldn’t be practical given the market.
Another platform could be Facebook and Twitter that are all the rage here in Rwanda! Let me be clear, however, I by no means think Rwanda should be an island, but rather that we play to our strengths (and weaknesses) in a smart fashion.
So far Rwanda has been great at this but maybe the bar could be pushed a bit further: tapping into raw (and young) talent. I was thinking the other day how ingenious it would be for Rwanda to host tech-expos focusing on tech ideas and innovations from neighboring countries but more especially, home-grown technologists from say, KIST.
I say this because allowing talent to pitch ideas helps to polish talent and allow teams to better communicate ideas with investors and angel investors; opening it up to neighboring countries stiffens competition and raises the bar for local technologists.
Sending national winners to international events such as the Demo conference in the US could edify this program even more. Another key is pooling diversity into this talent-pool by giving female tech entrepreneurs a platform to sell their ideas and in turn act as role models for many more female tech gurus in Rwanda.
With that said, 2012 is a good year to look at how financing and cash flow through the Rwandan tech system; I am not aware of any venture capital firms dedicated to supporting tech startups and honestly we need to do away with the bureaucracy, risk and cumbersome nature of dealing with Banks every time one begins a start-up.
The tech sector will flourish if financiers at different tiers open doors to entrepreneurs and accept the risks that come with any venture; incubators alongside training and mentoring will make a significant difference. In my humble opinion, big companies could do more in financing tech ventures and reap benefits from doing so-my two cents.
Allow me to say that there is a need for differentiation in the field. As I have mentioned before, the copy-cat syndrome (I created this term) will not do much to enrich the playing tech field; the creation of technologies built for scale and adaptation is also paramount.
So yes, 2012 is not all candy and roses and at great peril of sounding like a broken record, I dare say (to sum up) that we need a paradigm shift especially in how Rwanda plans to skyrocket to becoming the ICT bloodline of the region. Happy New year folks!