1. Silicon Valley, African tech hubs, and the opportunity of the internet

    Technology hubs are emerging in Africa. In Zimbabwe where I stay there have been at least 3 emerge in the last 6 months alone. I’m an advisor for one. By the way, hub so far here has meant an actual place and building, and there’s a lot of overlap in definitions of what a hub, accelerator, incubator  and other such terms, is. 

    Anyway, as a seemingly new thing in these parts, there’s a lot of confusion about what a hub should be and what it takes to have a successful hub or more broadly, a healthy tech ecosystem. Unfortunately there’s been a lot of talk about us needing to build some kind of Silicon Valley. The Kenyans are building Silicon Savannah, the South Africans, Silicon Cape, and in Zimbabwe I have heard suggestions of a Zilicon Savannah.

    My latest treat to Silicon Valley comparison drawing was this article here in which the writer explores why the valley succeeded and why the world is failing at replicating the valley’s successes.

    It’s as if Silicon Valley is the model & benchmark of success of in building tech companies. My response is always that this is a blinkered look at the opportunity that is the internet:

    So today, reading Vivek Whadwa article titled “Anyone, Anywhere Can Now Build The Next WhatsApp or Oculus" resonated. Especially this: 

    …an ocean of knowledge is now available on the Internet for free. In fact, more knowledge is available today on the Internet than was available to leading scientists and researchers as recently as 15 years ago, and now includes lectures by Stanford, Harvard and MIT faculty.

    Science and technology blogs provide more-timely and more-relevant information than scientific journals did because the journals were restricted to those who could afford subscriptions or who had access to libraries that did.

    A lack of mentorship and networking holds back entrepreneurs in distant parts of the world. But they can learn from the experiences of CEOs, venture capitalists and domain experts on hundreds of specialized discussion boards that are open to all—sites such as StackOverflow, Slashdot, Hacker News, PoetsandQuants and Quora. Additionally, anyone can follow global thought leaders on social media and learn from them. They can email or tweet to people they read about.

    This is why Strive Masiyiwa’s blogging about how he started and built his business empire is of such significance today.

     
  2. Our constraints are well known from the scarcity of quality coding skills, Internet infrastructure and access issues, public policy and in some instances restrictive regulation to economic conditions marked by low consumer disposable income.

     
  3. Our own Silicon Valley in the Avenues of Harare. Side by side with the Institute of Diplomacy!

    Our own Silicon Valley in the Avenues of Harare. Side by side with the Institute of Diplomacy!