On haitus till 2014

When Teddy, David and I set out to produce the Digital Continent Podcast we never once talked about a specific number of episodes. We only talked about the kinds of people we wanted to interview and listen to. All three of us were tired of talking about the possibilities of entrepreneurship. We wanted to talk to people who were actually doing the work.

Two years on and more than 20 episodes later we are amazed at the stories we have been able to collect and share, and what we have been able to achieve with very little time and money. A huge part of that is down to our guests, all of whom have graciously accepted our invitations to share their experiences and insights into entrepreneurship and digital technology in Africa. We are extremely grateful to all of them and we cannot wait to add to the list of inspiring personalities we have interviewed so far.

And that is the point of this post. It has been a while since we posted a new episode, and for those who enjoy the show we want you to know that the Digital Continent Podcast is not going away. We are simply taking a break this year. 

Why? Two reasons.

First, we have not had a great deal of spare time of late. As cheap and easy as it has become to bootstrap a podcast, it is still vital to take the time to book guests, research them, interview them, fix the audio, post the episodes and promote the show. We are a distributed team with asynchronous schedules and this year we do not have as much spare time as we would like to dedicate to this passion. Rather than put out rushed episodes of poor quality, we think it is better to press pause, focus on our professional and personal lives for a while and return to the show when we can dedicate the attention it deserves. 

The second reason has to do with scope and scale. We look at what we have done so far as a proof of concept. When we started this podcast, we weren't sure what was possible. Now, we have an idea. We plan to take the rest of the year to explore the ways in which we can make the show better and sustainable, and what other forms of coverage we can create to complement the audio content we produce.   

So, that is what is going on behind the scenes at the Digital Continent Podcast. It is always a risk when a fledgeling opts to take a time-out, but we figure if we spend the time wisely and come back with great content, you will come back too.

See you in 2014.

Episode 21: Manka Angwafo

49:57 min | Download

Ahead of the launch of Hadithi, an African Open Access portal, founder Manka Angwafo talks to TMS Ruge about her inspiration for creating a platform to promote African scholarship online.

Manka Angwafo has worked as a Research Analyst in the Office of the World Bank Chief Economist for the Africa Region. In that capacity, she conducted analysis on the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa for different projects, including “Africa Pulse” which provides information on development trends, and the Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA.) She co-edited of the book “Yes Africa Can: Success Stories from a Dynamic Continent.” She has since moved to Kenya and founded Hadithi.

Episode 20: Michael Oluwagbemi

51:04 min | Download

In our 20th episode Michael Oluwagbemi of LoftyInc Allied Partners andWennovation Hub talks to TMS Ruge about the process and challenges of raising capital for companies in Nigeria and the role of the Diaspora in boosting investment in African startups.

Michael earned his B.SEE (Summa Cum Laude) and M.Sc in Electrical Engineering from Prairie View A&M University and the University of Houston, USA respectively. Michael has been involved in over six start-up companies across West Africa, and currently sits on the board of two companies, Vertext Media Limited in Nigeria and Oceanbase Engineering in Ghana. He has played an important role in the creation of the Lagos Angel Network, a network that brings together individuals and organisations seeking to invest in and mentor Nigerian technology start-ups. He is based in Houston.

Episode 19: Steve Song

58:32 min | Download

In this episode TMS Ruge talks to Steve Song about the challenges and opportunities of providing as well as tracking internet access in Africa at the moment.

Steve Song is the founder of Village Telco, a social enterprise that builds low-cost WiFi mesh VoIP technologies to deliver affordable voice and Internet in underserviced areas. He is also the mind behind AfTerFibre, an open initiative to gather and share information about terrestrial fibre optic cable projects in Africa and map them in a manner that helps people to understand how communication infrastructure is evolving in Africa and also to see who the players are.

Steve Song was previously a Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation, working on telecommunications and access issues in Africa. Before that, Steve spent 10 years at the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa working on funding and engagement in research on Information and Communications Technology for Development.

Episode 18: Samuel Gebru

01:08:20 min | Download

Samuel Gebru talks to TMS about the perceptions, the policies and the challenges shaping Ethiopia’s digital economy today.

Samuel Gebru founded the Ethiopian Global Initiative in 2006 to marshal the social and intellectual capital among the youth and young professionals in order to transform the fortunes and image of Ethiopia. Since then, he has become one of the most recognized and respected young voices in the Ethiopian diaspora. Gebru sits on the board of Africans in Boston, and is working towards a degree in Political Science. Articulate and knowledgable, Samuel is the perfect guest to discuss the growing impression that Ethiopia is a state in which information cannot and will not flow freely.

Episode 17: Maureen Agena

1:09:00 min | Download

On this episode TMS and Maureen get together for a discussion on what it will take to empower more women to participate in the tech sectors of Africa.

Maureen Agena is a New media enthusiast, trainer, youth activist and a trained citizen Journalist. She currently works as a program Manager at Text to Change, a company that uses mobile technology to gather health statistics. Prior to this, Maureen worked at Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) for 3 years as an Information & Communications Officer. She holds a Bsc in Information Technology and a Masters in Information Systems. Maureen was recipient of Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship and an ARDYIS 2010 EastAfrican award winner. She is passionate about ICT4D, mobile technology and Gender issues in Technology.

Episode 16: Mariéme Jamme

1:01:46 min | Download

In this episode, TMS speaks with blogger, technologist, and social entrepreneur Mariéme Jamme. Together they discuss the sustainability of Africa’s various tech hubs, Africa Gathering, and the significance of visibility for Africa’s emerging generation of technologists.

Mariéme Jamme is Senegalese-born and London-based. She is the founder ofSpotOne Global Solutions, and the co-founder of Africa Gathering, a conference that draws together a variety artists and technologists in the effort to exchange ideas and learn from each other.

Episode 15: Solome Lemma

58:28 min | Download

TMS Ruge and Solome Lemma get together for a chat about growing up as African immigrants in the US, their discovery of technology and their efforts to use their knowledge and experiences to contribute to development in their respective countries.

Solome Lemma is recognized activist and philanthropist among her peers. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Kennedy School, Solome has worked with the UN Development Programme in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch in New York City, and International Rescue Committee in Liberia. She has most recently worked as a grantmaking program advisor at The Global Fund for Children, as well as the co-founder and coordinator of HornLight, an online platform that promotes a nuanced presentation of the Horn of Africa. Solome is now focused on Africans in the Diaspora, a new initiative aiming at tapping into the intellectual capital of the African Diaspora. For her work in Africa and the United States, Solome has been honoured as a Champion of Change by the White House.

Episode 14: Lukonga Lindunda

52:00 min | Download

Lukonga Lindunda talks to TMS Ruge about his passion for technology and education in Zambia today, and the creation of Bongo Hive, an innovation hub in Lusaka.

Lukonga is the co-founder of Bongo Hive, a technology and innovation hub in Lusaka, Zambia. He is also an ICT Advisor at VVOB Zambia. From experimenting with ipods in classrooms, to bringing local developers together with global software enterprises, Lukonga’s anecdotes and insights demonstrate his understanding of Zambians unique technological needs and applications.

Episode 13: Ethan Zuckerman

1:00:17 min | Download

TMS talks to Ethan Zuckerman about his experience living and working in Accra, his work with Global Voices, the Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children, and his goals and hopes for the wider web.

Ethan Zuckerman is a respected researcher on mainstream media and agency in the digital era at MIT. He is the co-founder of Global Voices, along with Rebecca MacKinnon, an important platform that has been instrumental in bringing several authentic African voices to a wider audience. Ethan hasspoken at TED, and sits on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including Ushahidi and PenPlusBytes. He is currently working on Media Cloud, an open source, open data platform that allows researchers to answer quantitative questions about the content of online media.

Episode 12: Churchill Mambe Nanje

51:22 min | Download

TMS talks to serial software entreprenuer Churchill Mambe Nanje about the challenges and benefits of being a software entreprenuer in Africa, the importance of protecting intellectual property and the significance of being small and flexible when competing against larger companies with more resources.

Mambe Nanje is based in Buea, Cameroon. He started his business as a teenager, and today employs ten people. He is the CEO of AfroVisionGroup, and the co-founder of camerbon.com, a showcase for creative Cameroonians. His latest venture is a job search engine for Africa callednjorku, and has been tapped as one of Africa’s best Tech startups by Forbes.

Episode 11: Ory Okolloh

1:27:14 min | Download

In the first episode of 2012, TMS sits down for a chat with Ory Okolloh to talk about her transformation from young nerd to one of the most effective activists for citizen empowerment to come out of Africa in the past decade.

Ory Okolloh is a lawyer, a prominent blogger, the founder of the online Kenya parliament watchdog Mzalendo, and the co-founder of the Ushahidi platform for informaton collection, visualization, and interactive mapping. Since January 2011 Ory has been the Policy Manager for Africa at Google. In 2011 Ory was listed by Fast Company magazine as one of the most influential women in technology. She is based in Johannesburg South Africa.

Episode 10: Mike Stopforth

19:56 min | Download

In our final episode of 2011 TMS Ruge has a chat with Mike Stopforth about his role as a CEO of a social media communications agency and what it takes to bring great African content to the web. A hint: solve local problems that have global applications.

Mike Stopforth is the CEO of Cerebra, the co-founder of Afrigator and the27dinner social networking movement. Cerebra helps companies figure out what is happening to and with their corporate brands in social media. 27dinner is a monthly event for tech and media people to get together over good food and wine.

Episode 9: Ken Banks

57:19 min | Download

TMS Ruge talks to Ken Banks, the founder of kiwanja.net. and a recognized specialist in the application of mobile technology for positive social and environmental change. His most celebrated innovation is Frontline SMS, a free open source application that turns a laptop and a mobile phone into a central communications hub. In this episode, Ken talks to TMS about how the software is being applied in various fields, the future of SMS, smart phones versus dumb phones, and how many listeners the Digital Continent Podcast has.

For his work, Ken Banks was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in May 2010 and an Ashoka Fellow in 2011, and is the recipient of the 2011 Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest. He is the current recipient of grants from the Open Society Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, HIVOS, the Omidyar Network and the Hewlett Foundation. Not bad for a lad from Jersey.

Episode 8: Erik Hersman

42:20 min | Download

Erik Hersman joins TMS Ruge to talk about internet connectivity in Kenya, technology localization, monopolies and disruption to internet access in Africa, and moving beyond perceptions of African ingenuity as limited to mobile connectivity.

Erik is a web technology professional with a reputation that stretches far beyond his base in Kenya. His personal blog, White African, is required reading for anyone interested in tech adoption and digital innovation in Africa. His other blogging venture, the multi-authored AfriGadget, showcases the ingenuity of ordinary Africans applying technology to solve simple but prevalent problems.

Perhaps the most well-known of all his software ventures is Ushahidi. Erik co-founded the free open-source platform that used around the world to crowd source information and visualize data. In Kenya, he has founded iHub, Nairobi’s Innovation centre for the technology community.

Erik is a TED Senior Fellow, a PopTech Fellow and speaker and an organizer for Maker Faire Africa. Erik is @WhiteAfrican on Twitter.

Episode 7: Benge Solomon King

1:11:48 min | Download

Solomon Benge King joins TMS Ruge to talk about his work with Node Six, and his passion for robotics, and his impressions of the flaws of Uganda’s education system.

While some may know Solomon King as one of Uganda’s first bloggers, he has a well-earned reputation as a serial web entrepreneur. Solomon King is the founder and CEO of Node Six, a Uganda based web hosting company with over 5 years of experience and 300 clients. He has also founded Elemental Edge, a visual design studio with a focus on 3D animation.

Passionate about creating communities for knowledge sharing and learning, Solomon created Design Kingdom, a website that features Uganda’s digital artists and designers. He also created BlogSpirit, a website that aggregates the feeds from Uganda’s prominent bloggers. Since April 2011, Solomon has been working on Fundi Bots, a social education initiative he founded to promote learning and experimentation through robotics and electronics.

Solomon blogs about life and technology in Uganda at The Rogue King and goes by the handle @solomonking on Twitter.

Episode 6: Evelyn Namara

52:29 min | Download

In this episode TMS Ruge interviews Evelyn Namara about investing in female entrepreneurs in rural areas, earning respect as a competent techie and entrepreneur from male colleagues and clients, and about the dizzying highs and depressing lows of being an Arsenal fan.

Evelyn Namara is the Uganda program coordinator for Solar Sister, an organisation that aims to address severe poverty by investing in female entreprenuers, particularly in rural areas.

Before joining Solar Sister, Evelyn was a systems administrator for Orange Uganda and a systems engineer for Linux. She holds a Bsc in Computer Science from Makerere University in Kampala, an Associate degree from Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology (UICT) and a Diploma in Information Technology (Science), Uganda Institute of Information and Communications Technology (UICT).

Evelyn’s a prolific blogger at EvƎlyn’s Thoughts and tweets constantly.

Episode 5: Jon Gosier

59:36 min | Download

In this episode Jon Gosier joins TMS Ruge to talk about his extraordinary and well-documented career in the tech space and the growth in reputation and credibility of the tech sector in East Africa. They discuss the emergence of Ushahidi and regional tech hubs, and the need for better investment vehicles for the region.

Known as the founder of Appfrica, Jonathan Gosier is a designer, software developer and a lover of data science. From 2009 to 2011 he served as Director of Product for SwiftRiver at Ushahidi working on an open-source platform for drawing insight from real-time content. in June 2011 he left Ushahidi to focus on metaLayer, a startup he co-founded to create apps that enable users to contextualize the mobile and social web. Jon is a TED Senior Fellow. Feel free to hate.

Episode 4: Joeri Poesen

55:34 min | Download

TMS Ruge interviews Joeri Poesen, an open source advocate and the co-founder of Bantalabs, an open source web development, consulting and training firm with offices in Senegal and France. Joeri talks about choosing a town in Senegal as the base for his company, and the adjustments he has had to make working with clients in a culture where business relationships must often be established through face-to-face contact. And TMS presses him on the role of expats in helping shape Africa’s digital economies.

Prior to moving to Africa Joeri co-organized DrupalCon Paris 2009 and directed Drupal development projects and training at AF83 Paris. In Belgium he co-founded Drupal agency Krimson, architected call center software and processes at IPGlobalnet and consulted on IT projects for Deloitte Belgium. Joeri is @jpoesen on Twitter.

Episode 3: Isis Nyong’o

34:12 min | Download

TMS Ruge interviews Isis Nyong’o, VP and Managing Director InMobi Africa. Together they talk about the pace of growth in mobile web access, they contrast start up cultures in Silicon Valley to those in Kenya, and consider the differences in value between desktop and mobile advertising in Africa.

With extensive experience in Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania, Isis is well placed to offer a perspective on the trends in mobile advertising and technological innovation in Africa. Isisi holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She started her career at Kenya’s first online recruitment service, MyJobsEye where she developed the marketing strategy for the start up. She moved on to MTV Networks where she worked on the network’s regional commercial strategy. When she eventually moved on, it was to Google as Business Development Manager where she worked on Google’ strategy to bring more African content online.

Isis joined advertising network InMobi in February 2011 to lead business expansion in Africa. So naturally, she belongs on the list of one of the ‘Top 40 Women under 40′ in Kenya. She is @inyongo on Twitter.