That’s hello in Sesotho.
So we ran our annual reader survey and I’m keen to get your thoughts on my plans for a premium newsletter and insights offering in 2020. This newsletter will continue, but it is likely to evolve to cater for a paid-for subscription model to receiving insights from my team and I.
I chose to extend the deadline of the giveaway to 5th November 2019, (first prize of a 30-minute free consultation with me and runner-up prize of a signed physical copy of our “State of Mobile Data” report).
If you haven’t yet shared your feedback, you can do that here. I’ll also be resending the campaign as we had a hitch in one of the emails where it arrived without any link to take the survey. If you get multiple requests to take it (and you already have) pardon me. If you haven’t already given me your feedback, please do.
That said, let’s get to the tasting menu of links. Feast your browser tabs on what we’ve got below.
Taxi/danfo and boda/okada drivers might as well be the new “urban planners and architects” of African capital cities. The information they create through the use of mobile telephony is critical towards digitalizing and disaggregating a city’s transit data (see; digitalmatatus.com in Kenya)."
- Mwesigwa Daniel
In a new piece looking at mobile phones and mobility, longtime newsletter subscriber Daniel “@Valanchee” Mwesigwa examines cities and the movement of people in what he calls the Boda Boda Political Economy.
He argues “...cities are no longer just urbanisms of meshed buildings and ramshackle slums connected by roads and highways but also conduits of networked information. Traffic information mediated by Google through its Maps products now includes important transit data on the so-called chaotic cities such as Lagos and Nairobi. Through intermediation of city transit data, Google Maps — and tech upstarts such as Uber and SafeBoda that layer their services off Maps — is able to re/produce “abstract” space which was previously controlled by urban planners and architects.”
An Uber CHAPCHAP in Nairobi costs KES 150 ($1.50) for a ride. Jumia’s offering terrific discounts this November. Glovo deliveries are free or at-cost. How long can we live this subsidized life? My take is that a number of technology startups in the “lifestyle adjustment” space e.g. “Uber-for-X” will only survive for so long because profit matters. It is being questioned overseas and there will be a reckoning on the continent at some point over the next 3 to 5 years.
We can count on life to only get more expensive and make it harder for these companies to stay afloat. I remember a time in Kenya where OLX.com (now jiji.ke) was among the top spenders in the country (as high up, if not higher than the Kenyan Government and other top firms). A website focused on free classifieds listings. It is no longer operating in Kenya or the continent.
To maximize customer growth many of these venture-backed firms have strategically throttled their prices, in effect providing a massive consumer subsidy. Some have dubbed it Millennial Lifestyle Sponsorship, in which consumer tech companies, along with their venture-capital backers, helping to fund the daily habits of their disproportionately young and urban user base.
One lifestyle app we’ve mentioned repeatedly is making a comeback to the newsletter. I’m glad to be meeting with them in person in a few weeks. TikTok has hired fellow newsletter subscriber Gladys Cheruiyot as their TikTok Creator Manager for Kenya.
TikTok partnered with smartphone firm, Infinix, to launch their first local influencer campaign called #WeAreHot. It was part of the launch of the latest Hot 8 smartphone into the Kenyan market. Some creators from Instagram and Twitter have now jumped on the bagwagon to promote the campaign. I also liked seeing some pure TikTok creators get recognised and rewarded for their consistency by being part of the campaign. More on this soon.
On October 12th, marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge achieved a feat no human has ever managed before. He ran a 42-kilometer marathon in under two hours; more precisely, 1:59:40.
Safaricom (disclosure: a Nendo client) renamed their mobile money network, M-PESA, for a week to ELIUD. The mobile network offered subscribers free data bundles to stream the race. During the race, Safaricom ran a digital campaign with the hashtag #Eliud159.
INEOS website live stream numbers for the event reached a total of 779,000 views. It is also estimated that 500 million viewers streamed the event worldwide. Many Kenyan brands took advantage of the wave and had deals for 159 shillings. Moses Kemibaro was the first to put together a good summary of the digital stats and impact.
From Nendo’s side we pitted two brands focused on Eliud’s triumph against one another. How did chemical multinational INEOS do, compared to Safaricom?
#INEOS159 and #NoHumanIsLimited globally had 13 billion potential impressions compared to #Eliud159 by Safaricom with 11 billion. Great thing we’re talking billions here. Safaricom had a greater impact in Kenya and the African continent as the dominant brand in the conversation.
In Kenya alone, there were 235,206 posts, compared to the UK which had 21,594 posts and Austria’s 658 posts. Kenyans extended their patriotic support for their own hence the overwhelming number of shares.
A majority of the Austrian posts were shared by the event organizers, INEOS (if they have plans to come to Kenya, this is the time). There was also a suggestion to have Nike come up with a Kipchoge shoe line, akin to the Jordan brand. Kipchoge gained over 100,000 followers owing to media coverage of the event and attention he gained by being tagged by INEOS.
We've got a whopper of links and references below. I hope you enjoy reading them.
It has been suspected for some time that some cheap smartphone brands that are sucking up your data. The MYA2, a Phillipino smartphone has experienced data privacy issues owing to apps that are not deletable nor are they upgradeable.
It is just one example of how cheap smartphones leak personal information, provide few if any privacy protection, and are incredibly easy to hack compared to their more expensive counterparts. As we said in the State of Mobile Data the concept of privacy continues to be one that is exclusively left to the wealthier members of society.
VICE magazine uncovered that a phone manufacturer, MPC, has emerged as a front for a drug trafficking organisation. Selling real (encrypted and secure) Android phones with real specs being reviewed by real technologists.
Apple, thanks to some activist investors forcing their hand, yielded to pressure to give parents the tools to control screen time with their children. Google followed suit with “Digital wellbeing” for Android devices. It is emerging that tech-savvy kids and teens are easily circumventing any and all parental control settings.
Kids are convening on Reddit and showing tutorials on YouTube to share tips and tricks that allow them to circumvent Apple’s Screen Time. They are even downloading special software that allows them to exploit Apple’s own security flaws, which in turn disables screen time or cracks their parents’ passwords. A generation of future ‘hackers’ may be upon us. Apple doesn’t seem to be as interested in addressing or acknowledging these flaws.
They search for bugs that make it easy to keep using their phones, unbeknown to parents, such as changing the time to trick the system or using iMessage to watch YouTube videos.
I recently read an intriguing story about an African samurai known as Yasuke, in the 16th Century during the reign of Oda Nobunaga. His arrival in Kyoto in 1579 caused a sensation owing to his height of 1.88m, and his black skin. Yasuke quickly created a rapport with Nobunaga as he already spoke some Japanese, was a good conversationalist and they had a lot in common including their love for martial arts.
When Nobunaga bestowed the rank of samurai on Yasuke the concept of a non-Japanese samurai was unprecedented. It set the pace for later where other foreigners obtained the title. There are currently plans to have Chadwick Boseman, the lead actor in Black Panther, play Yasuke in a forthcoming feature film. It is a wonder that nearly 500 years later, his unusual life continues to awe and inspire people.
M-Kopa was founded by a number of the M-Pesa founders a decade ago in May of 2010. M-Kopa provides low-income, off-grid homes with solar-powered systems and the ability to acquire assets based on their M-Pesa data. They started with solar panels and since expanded to phones, radios, TVs, fridges and more.
Their sustainability report showcases their scale and impact. Over 750,000 off-grid solar systems sold, providing 3 million individuals with clean, safe lighting solutions.
Facebook is set to pay a $40 million to resolve claims on lying about its video metrics. According to the suit claims, the average viewership metrics were not inflated by only 60%-80% but were inflated by some 150 to 900%." You can read more about the full memorandum in support of the settlement here.
A friend of the newsletter, Abi-Latif Dahir has joined the New York Times. Abdi has been mentioned for a couple of his pieces here in the newsletter and I’ve been glad to be featured in a few of his stories. In my view, they have more than made up for the mishap of their coverage during the Dusit D2 attack in January.
Still there? A lot to digest for you this time around. Haven't answered my survey yet? Please do so here. See something you liked? Found an interesting insight? Got a question you can't shake off your mind? Do reply to this email. We're here and read every email. We can't always reply to them all but I do appreciate it.
Stay tuned for 2020, and please share this newsletter with someone else. Hit forward on this email and share it or send this link around in your WhatsApp, Facebook and other Groups to spread the good word on The Letter N.
Until next time,
Mark and Team Nendo.