Vint Cerf, co-founder of People-Centered Internet, explores the move away from digital divide towards innovation in Kenya, and the potential for a revolution in the making
Kenya is the birthplace of MPesa – mobile money’s runaway success. Editor Bitange Ndemo helped to launch the People-Centered Internet in 2015. Join 178,000 who have already downloaded a chapter.
“This is not your usual run-of-the-mill entrepreneurial business book. The authors are going after nothing short of a transformation in the African business environment, specifically in Kenya. There are scores of books on innovation and entrepreneurship, but this one is clearly focusing on what could make Kenya tick in an age of innovation and rapidly evolving technology.
Kenyans, along with many of their fellow Africans, have leapfrogged into the modern, smartphone world without passing through the historical wire-line telephone stage. The economics of mobile telephony are different from those of older forms of telephony—and, of course, a smartphone is much more than a telephone. It is a general-purpose computer that can access the Internet, run local programs, serve as a remote controller, and tell users where they are with the Global Positioning System, among myriad other tasks—and, by the way, make telephone calls.
But this book is not just about mobiles. In fact, it is mostly not about mobile technology. It is primarily about fostering innovation, harnessing talent, gathering capital, finding or defining markets, and asking the right questions. It is also about the for-profit and nonprofit world and the roles each can play in an economy.
The authors do not duck the challenge of government policy when it comes to competition. The book wrestles with the relative merits of domestic and international market making— for every country, participation in the global market has a larger potential than any domestic market, but for entrepreneurs just starting out, local sales may at first be much easier to close than global ones.
What I particularly like about the book are the dialogues with prominent entrepreneurs, investors, and thinkers in Africa. These give very concrete examples of what has been done and how it was done. Their pragmatic examples provide essential guideposts for fulfilling the promise of African innovation.
Adapting to the unique and varied strengths and characteristics of the continent is a vital ingredient to business success. This book has set my mind buzzing with possibilities—and I hope yours will react the same way.”
Vinton G. Cerf
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