First Swahili iPad/iPhone App By Nkyea Released


Nana Kwabena Sarpong and Isaac Ameyaw started Nkyea Learning Systems in 2009 to develop desktop and mobile applications for learning African languages. They’ve already developed and released two Twi language applications, Nkyea Twi Primer and Nkyea Twi Phrasebook, ’My Twi Name‘ app, and ‘Adrinkra E-Cards‘ app.

Nkyea Swahili App on iPad/iPhone

The two-man Ghanaian language learning apps development team has just released Nkyea Basic Swahili, the first Swahili iPhone and iPad app from their startup, on the Apple App Store. Nkyea Basic Swahili, which sells for $2.99, contains more than 650 essential words and phrases and has been designed to give absolute beginners a general conversational competence in Swahili.

Nkyea Basic Swahili presents the user with 18 lessons of basic grammar and vocabulary. The user can then choose a lesson, listen to the native speaker, read and record, play back and compare with the native speaker. The app also presents you with a quiz after each topic, which means users can reinforce what they learn and earn motivation badges for scoring high marks.

“This is a very user friendly language learning application, “Sarpong explains. “It’s really easy to learn Swahili with Basic Swahili.”

Nkyea Basic Swahili is targeting four primary markets: Tourists traveling to East Africa, students learning Swahili at a beginner level in school, anybody who has an East African relative or friend and lastly, language enthusiasts.

Here is the link to the app in the Apple App Store

Sarpong and Ameyaw are also working on more African language apps, which would be released in the coming weeks. Nkyea remains a bootstrapped endeavor, wholly financed through the startup’s PC, Mac and iPhone application sales.

You can follow them on Twitter via @NanaSarpong & @IsaacAmeyaw for more info about their work and creativity.

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Apple’s Steve Jobs Previews OS X Lion, iOS 5, iCloud and more!


On June 6th, 2011; Apple’s CEO – Steve Jobs talked about the latest operating systems Apple OS X Lion, iCloud and also previewed iOS 5 (iPhone OS).

Below you’ll find more about the various products launched, changes in them and what to expect if you’re jumping on-board the Apple OS bandwagon.

 Apple iOS 5

According to Scott Forstall;  “The Safari browser is the best mobile web browser out there. It’s also the most popular.” Nearly 2 / 3 of all mobile web browsing is done through Safari.”

Safari Browser – iOS 5 brings even more web-browsing features to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Safari Reader displays web articles sans ads or clutter so you can read without distractions. Reading List lets you save interesting articles to peruse later, while iCloud keeps your list updated across all your devices. And iOS 5 improves Safari performance on all your iOS devices.

iOS 5 Camera

Camera – Since your iPhone is always with you, it’s often the best way to capture those unexpected moments. That’s why you’ll love the new camera features in iOS 5. You can open the Camera app right from the Lock screen. Use grid lines, pinch-to-zoom gestures, and single-tap focus and exposure locks to compose a picture on the fly. Then press the volume-up button to snap your photo in the nick of time. If you have Photo Stream enabled in iCloud, your photos automatically download to all your other devices.

Photos – Turn your snapshots into frame-worthy photos in just a few taps. Crop, rotate, enhance, and remove red-eye without leaving the Photos app. Even organize your photos in albums — right on your device. With iCloud, you can push new photos to all your iOS devices. So if you’re taking photos on your iPhone, iCloud automatically sends copies to your iPad, where you can quickly touch them up before showing them off.

Twitter – iOS 5 makes it even easier to tweet from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Sign in once in Settings, and suddenly you can tweet directly from Safari, Photos, Camera, YouTube, or Maps. Want to mention or @reply to a friend? Your contacts apply your friends’ Twitter usernames and profile pictures. So you can start typing a name and iOS 5 does the rest. You can even add a location to any tweet, no matter which app you’re tweeting from.

Wi-Fi Sync – Wirelessly sync your iOS device to your Mac or PC over a shared Wi-Fi connection. Every time you connect your iOS device to a power source (say, overnight for charging), it automatically syncs and backs up any new content to iTunes. So you always have your movies, TV shows, home videos, and photo albums everywhere you want them.

 Apple iCloud

iCloud is the latest cloud service from Apple Inc. The service allows users to store data such as music files for download to multiple devices such as iPhones, iPods, iPads, and personal computers running Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows. It also replaces MobileMe, acting as a data syncing center for email, contacts, calendars, bookmark, notes, to-do lists and other data.

iCloud includes 5GB of free cloud storage for Mail, Document Storage and Backup. Purchased music, apps, books and Photo Stream do not count against the storage limit.

Steve Jobs talking about iCloud @ WWDC2011

The concepts may be similar to what Google and Amazon has on the table, but Apple is probably going to execute it a lot better. At the end of the day, that is what counts. Customer satisfaction and getting the job done on time.

According to Steve Jobs:

“Some people think the cloud is just a big disk in the sky… We think it’s way more than that.”

“iCloud stores your content in the cloud and wirelessly pushes it to all your device. It automatically uploads it, stores it, and pushes it to all your devices.”

“Everything happens automatically and there’s nothing new to learn. It just all works.”

“Contacts added in any device are pushed to the cloud and then sync’d down to all the other devices. Naturally, change it anywhere and that change propagates.”

“iCloud will be free!”

Steve Jobs talking iCloud

Further updates regarding these latest developments from Apple are available through the official Apple website.

Photo Credit: Engadget

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Accra Wi-Fi Map Launched


On September 2, 2009; I was inspired by Rebecca Wanjiku’s article; Free Wi-Fi hotspot locator in Nairobi to also write on Free Wi-Fi Hotspots In Accra which pointed out the various FREE Wi-Fi spots in Accra about 2-years ago.

This morning, one of my tech and social media mentors; Erik Hersman shared the link to the Nairobi Wi-Fi map which made me decide on creating and developing the Wi-Fi Map for Accra.

The site is designed and built on the Crowdmap platform by the Ushahidi Team from Kenya. Its allows you to

  • Collect information from cell phones, news and the web.
  • Aggregate that information into a single platform.
  • Visualize it on a map and time-line.

Accra Wi-fi Map

Accra Wi-Fi Hotspot map will provide data on all Wi-Fi hotspots located in the heart of Accra. The various categories include:

  • FREE Wi-Fi Hotspots
  • Hotels & Guest Houses With Wi-FI
  • Cyber Cafes & Coffee Shops

I entrust all dwellers, visitors, bloggers and techies in Accra to feed in enough data unto the site. Visit the site: http://accrawifi.crowdmap.com/ and submit a report of all Wi-Fi Hotspot you’ve accessed recently. You can also submit a report by texting to the number: (+233) 262.220.210

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Google Appoints Female Country Manager for Nigeria


Juliet Ehimuan - Google Country Manager : Nigeria

Google Nigeria recently appointed Ms. Juliet Ehimuan, the former General Manager of  Strategic Business Units at Chams Plc as its Country Manager for Nigeria.

Responding to her new appointment, Joe Mucheru; Google’s lead for Sub Saharan Africa said:

“Google sees great potential in the Nigerian market. We are excited to have Juliet Ehimuan bring her expertise and knowledge to help fulfill that potential.”

“It’s a very exciting time to be joining Google where, amongst other initiatives, I will be helping Nigerian enterprises take advantage of the online world, to better engage with their customers and grow their businesses,” Ms. Ehimuan said.

“The Internet is set to play a critical role in the country’s socio-economic development; Google is committed to investing in Nigeria and to making the internet accessible and relevant for all Nigerian users,” she added.

Ms. Ehimuan brings her industry expertise in technology that spans experiences in Europe, Middle East, (EMEA) Africa and the United States to the role. For more information, read her bio below.

Bio:

Prior to her appointment at Google, Ms. Ehimuan was the General Manager, Strategic Business Units of Chams Plc where she was responsible for leading and formulating strategies for the Chams Strategic Business units. She holds an Executive MBA from the London Business School, a Post Graduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, UK; and obtained a Bachelors degree with 1st class honours in Computer Engineering from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. She is a recipient of the London Business School Global Women’s Scholarship, and at Cambridge University she received two scholarly awards – Selwyn College Scholar and Malaysian commonwealth Scholar.

She worked with Microsoft UK for 6 years, initially as a Program Manager managing Strategic Projects for MSN Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).  She received the Microsoft “Ship-IT” award for successfully launching the new MSN online subscription business in the UK, Spain, Italy, and Germany. She is a pioneer member of the African Computer Network for Developing Countries sponsored by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy in 1995. She also worked with the Shell Petroleum Development Company as a Performance Monitoring and Quality Assurance Supervisor from 1995 – 1997.

In 2005, she left Microsoft to start SI (Strategic Insight) Consulting Ltd UK, focused on providing collaborative programs that connect African Business leaders and Professionals with their global counterparts. The SI team clients are made of an eclectic mix of organisations including MSN, BP (British Petroleum), Royal Bank of Scotland, Harvard Business School alumni club, representatives from all banks in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria etc.

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Google Launches New African Tech Incubator – Umbono


 

Cross-linked at Future Challenges Organization‘s blog

With the current state of innovation spreading across the African continent; what we need exactly as social entrepreneurs and change-makers is the space to network, share ideas and work on projects that become businesses and profit-making ventures. I’m very happy to say, this space is here for the African Tech Community as at today.

Google has chosen South Africa’s Cape Town as a pilot township for its new technology incubator called Umbono which aims to bring together seed capital, Google mentorship, angel investors, local tech stars, social entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Africa's Newest Incubator - Umbono

According to Google:

the incubator is in keeping with its ongoing commitment to foster innovation in Africa and it will help selected startup teams transform their ideas into companies.

The Umbono program lasts for 6 months—enough time for your team to get your idea formally off the ground or to prepare your existing business for its next round of funding. The Umbono program will help transform your vision into a business. Your idea – probably web or mobile deployed – is exciting on many levels: for your future users, potential investors, and for the people on your team building it.

Teams should expect to receive a minimum of $25,000 and a maximum of $50,000. Capital from Angel investors will be exchanged for equity (10%) and will be governed by standard terms of investment (the same terms for each team).

Teams will also have regular access to our extensive network of business and technology experts, many of whom are Googlers. All team members should be able to legally reside and work in South Africa in order to apply to the program (regardless of their citizenship).

Google is also collaborating with the Silicon Cape Initiative and the Bandwidth Barn, to ensure that Umbono’s teams are well positioned to succeed.

Applications are available on the Umbono website from March 18, open to all South African residents. The deadline for first round applicants is April 15, 2011, but the website will continue to host applications for all interested candidates. To learn more and apply, go to www.google.co.za/umbono.

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Database of Social Conflicts in Africa Launched.


ongoing conflicts would map

Image via Wikipedia

Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas. and also an affiliate of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin; Idean Salehyan announced the launch of the Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD)

The database is a resource for conducting research and analysis on various forms of social and political unrest in Africa. It includes over 6,300 social conflict events across Africa (including North Africa) from 1990 to 2009, including riots, strikes, protests, coups, and communal violence. By tracking forms of conflict not covered in traditional datasets on civil and interstate war, SCAD gives policymakers and researchers new tools to analyze conflict patterns.

The Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD) will provide information on over 6,300 social conflict events across Africa, including strikes, riots, protests, coups and communal violence dating from 1990 to 2009.

For more information; access the database here also the press release can be here too…

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Ghana’s Influential Women Celebrated on Int’l Women’s Day


The 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day was celebrated all over the world on March 8th, with lists of top women featuring powerful women, celebrities and other well known personalities.

Hundreds of events occurred not just on that day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Ghanaian women were not left out of this important day.

Series of events took place which lead to bloggers and civil society organizations in Ghana expressing their opinions/comments on their various platforms.

In Ghana, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs mandated that the Day should be commemorated with the Ghana Women of Excellence Awards Scheme which saw the First Lady; Her Excellency Ernestina Naadu Mills been the Guest of Honour.

The Awards Scheme was on the theme “Empowering the Ghanaian Woman for National Development” which in essence was to motivate Ghanaian women to strive for excellence in their various walks of life …and to take their rightful places in the national development process.

The scheme formed part of the celebration of International Women’s Day and the 1st Awards ceremony which was held at the Accra International Conference Centre yesterday, 8th March 2011.

Ghanaian Blogger & Bar-Camp Activist; Ato-Ulzen Appiah; author of “The Vim Views & Versions – Blogs of a MIghTy African” blog did an interesting and a well detailed post (with winners/awardees) on the ceremony which saw Dorothy Gordon; Director of Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT been honored for her role in ICT in Ghana.

 

Dorothy K. Gordon - DG AITI-KACE been awarded

Also, in an interview blog-post by co-founder of Nandi Mobile: Edward Amartey-Tagoe interviewed Farida Bedwei; the author of “Definition of a Miracle” as his International Women’s Day contribution article.

Farida got diagnosed with cerebral palsy and in a community where people suffering from this disease are routinely misunderstood and viewed as incapable of contributing meaningfully to the society; Edward decided to feature her by way of seeking answers to some questions from her.

The CS Monitor of which I occasionally contribute to; also had a self-explanatory article by Ariel Zirulnick which touched on, “What International Women’s Day was all about!

A list of 50 Inspirational African Feminists (pdf) from Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah of African Women Development Fund saw a couple of Ghanaian & other African women doing great things, have achieved success in their own ways and are impacting the lives of many others in their communities and beyond.

Below; I highlight on some of the Ghanaian Women who made it on this list:

  • Professor Abena P.A. Busia : Rutgers University – Uniquely blending feminist activism with creativity and academia
  • Professor Ama Ata Aidoo : Author/Mbaasem (Women’s Words) Production of outstanding African feminist literature
  • Angela Dwamena-Aboagye : Ark Foundation – Operating the only shelter for survivors of Domestic Violence in Ghana
  • Boakyewaa Glover : Writer/Blogger –  Contribution to a renaissance of African women’s writing
  • Dr Rose Mensah Kutin :  Abantu for Development – Demonstrating stalwart leadership on women’s issues
  • Lucy Mensah : Women United Against Aids in Ghana (WUAAG) – Establishing the first HIV& AIDS women only support group
  • Professor Takyiwaah Manuh : Institute of African Studies (University of Ghana) – Dynamic social activism and contributions to academia especially around women’s rights
  • Yaba Badoe : Film Maker/Writer – Directing and producing ‘The Witches of Gambaga’ Documentary, a powerful visual account of the abuse, and exploitation of women accused of witchcraft

Even though, the original list doesn’t include Estelle Akofio-Sowah; I believe she deserves a spot and a mention when Influential Women in Ghana mentioned.

  • Estelle Akofio-Sowah: Team Lead – Google Ghana: Leading a team of Technologists from Google Africa to shape the future of ICT, Internet Policy Fomulation and Mobile internet in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
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