Tuesday, April 13, 2010

East Helping West Helping East Helping West Helping… Well, You Get the Idea

africamapx Some weeks ago, Wayan Vota caused quite a stir when he wrote a post alleging that the Kenyan internet industry was better than the Nigerian internet industry. Quite a number of Nigerians weighed in on the blog and it resulted in a slew of comments and rejoinders (the Kenyans stayed out of the discussion for some reason). I suggested to Wayan then that we have a debate between the Nigerian and Kenyan industries to compare and contrast what made them what they were. Instead we ended up doing the highly productive discussion about the internet business opportunities available in Nigeria. The transcript of that discussion is here and my thoughts on it are here.

I added a bit of humour to my post reminding Wayan that he still owed me a debate between East African Internet entrepreneurs and West African Internet entrepreneurs. I believe there are interesting differences between what is happening in Nigeria and Kenya that are worth discussing. Kenyans seem to have solutions with a heavy focus on empowerment and socio-economic accessibility, while over here we seem to keep a very keen eye on the global trends and can rapidly iterate local versions of global solutions in a way that fits how our people do things.

This time Wayan agreed with the idea of a discussion and like the previous session we plan to do something at the end of this month (April, 2010). However, it has to be a meaningful discussion, not a bunch of African lions roaring superiority over each other. We came up with the following topic that we believe will be valuable to both sides and can help foster new and fruitful relationships: “The evolution of start-ups culture in Africa: how the East differs from the West and what we can learn from each other”.

We hope to get a group of entrepreneurs from both sides of Africa talking about their experiences and passing on learning points. We hope that out of this will come partnerships that will benefit Africa and the internet as a whole. While much of the thinking and discussion leading up to this has focused on Nigeria and Kenya, we do not plan to exclude internet business people from other parts of the continent and extend an invitation to all to participate.

I had to write this post before the details were worked out because one of the Kenyans that I invited, Joshua Wanyama of Afrinnovator, was cautious about participating without more information about what the purpose is. To reiterate, the purpose is getting African internet business people talking about the way things work in their societies in a way that will give everyone ideas, draw solutions to some of the pain points and cause an exchange of contact information that could result in a lot more coast to coast commerce and friendships.

I, Wayan, Possicon of WebTrends Nigeria, and others will share word on time, date, and forum once we have all that worked out. If you are interested, particularly if you are from outside Nigeria, please give me shout on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_dej.


Map courtesy of www.yourchildlearns.com. The interactive learning maps on the site are great for your kids to try out.