Archive for Februar, 2008

Presentation: Making business with IT companies in Europe

Dienstag, Februar 19th, 2008

At Novatech ITC Africa in Addis Abeba I held a presentation about ‚how to make business with IT companies in Europe‘ – and, of course, about ‚Open Source Africa‘.

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Presentation Joachim Graf Novatech ITC Africa: How to make business with IT companies in Europe and about Open Source Africa

Speech Outline


Generating New Business with Europes SMEs in the IT-field

Speaker: Joachim Graf,

Publicist and Editor iBusiness Germany

Founder and Managing Director of HighText Verlag, Munich Germany

Generating New Business with Europes SMEs in the IT-field.

The presentation outlines how African IT companies can set up a business relationship with European IT and media companies.

About 90 percent of German IT companies in the SME sector have fewer than 10 employees. The decision makers in these small companies neither have the time nor the expertise needed to conduct systematic partner research for their growing outsourcing needs. In order to be visible to German companies seeking outsourcing partners and to have access to them, African IT companies have to be virtually or physically present with their profile and company information. This information is targeted to show them as trustworthy and technically competent partners. An appropriate, up-to-date and sufficient online networking platform would be a huge opportunity for African companies to get in touch with Germanys IT sector. More important than low prices are visible technical and project skills and a powerful networking strategy. Additionally, the presentation will describe the planned online networking platform and how it brings African and European SME companies into partnership.

Uganda MP Sempala greets project ‚Open Source Africa‘

Dienstag, Februar 19th, 2008

Hon. Nabilah Sempala and Joachim Graf on ITC AfricaAt Novatech ICT Africa in Addis Abeba I have the pleasure to discuss with Hon. Nabilah Sempala Naggayi, Woman Member of Parliament for Kampala District in the Parliament of Uganda, the role of IT development in Eastern Africa, the situation of the educational sector – and the lack of marketing, German companies do (or better: didn’t do) on African markets.

Additional, Hon. Nabilah Sempala, who speaks fluently German, pointed out, how high the benefits are, Ugandas IT industry can receive out of the Open Source Africa project. Something – of course – I was very happy to hear.

Travel to Addis Abeba

Dienstag, Februar 12th, 2008

UN conference centreToday, I leave to Addis Abeba. On the ICT Africa, the big conference from Novatech for the IT business in East Africa, I will present Open Source Africa. Iam very curious about Ethopia and all the African IT guys. I look forward to meet a lot of interesting people and potential project partners in the UN conference centre in the center of Addis Abeba.

Open Source Africa – project plan

Montag, Februar 11th, 2008

“Open Source Africa” aims to set up a multinational online platform which will allow small IT companies in Europe to enter into a business relationship with small African IT companies. It is intended to be an „Open“ platform, in order to make “Source Africa” accessible for IT services and outsourcing of European industry. To develop knowledge and acceptance of open source software in Africa, the development and later operation will also use free and open source software (FOSS). The first (European) target group of people inviting project tenders should therefore also be IT companies which use Open Source. The target group of small IT companies is crucial to guarantee the project’s sustainability. The portal must be able to organise not only the awarding of complete projects, but also sub-projects “micro-projects”). That increases the acceptance of the European target group by building confidence.


  • For small IT companies in Europe, (573,000 IT and 130,000 media companies – Eurostat 2007) the portal offers the opportunity to buy in programming offshore at favourable rates for micro-projects (that is, clearly defined subprojects and components), thus ensuring a competitive advantage.
  • For small IT companies in Africa, new market opportunities are opened up, they become independent of the projects awarded by their own governments, receive access to European project and IT know-how and can network across the continent and worldwide.
    Since the development of sources of know-how and of money also opens up new business and start-up opportunities, this prevents the brain drain of highly qualified experts from Africa to Europe and the USA.

Why HighText Verlag?

HighText Verlag, founded in 1991 by Joachim Graf und Daniel Treplin has a in longtime experience in developing and operation business to business platforms: is a trendscouting and knowledge portal for media convergence with 150.000 registered German speaking users. offers a platform for distribution, consulting and production of press material including text, images and video per e-mail, RSS, satellite and fax; furthermore press1 provides online press compartments for tradefairs, events and congresses, congress IPTV and media surveillance

Excellency Prof. Romain Murenzi: Open Source Africa and the minister

Mittwoch, Februar 6th, 2008

Excellency Prof. Romain MurenziOn Tuesday I had the great pleasure of meeting the Minister in the Presidents Office in charge of Science, Technology, Scientific Research, Information and Communication, Excellency Prof. Romain Murenzi. I told him about the project ‘Open Source Africa’ and we discussed the influence the project could have on the IT business in Rwanda. Prof. Murenzi told me about the more than 120 IT projects the Government of Rwanda is about to start and indicates, how central the information and technology sector is for Rwanda and the ‘Vision 2020’ of the country.

Prof. Murenzi offered support for my project and will me provide me with additional information about the IT companies in Rwanda.

The distribution problem: IT, video and no Open Source

Mittwoch, Februar 6th, 2008

Emmanuel AhishakiyeI contacted Emmanuel via Facebook and he was so nice as to make an appointment with me in Kigali. Emmanuel Ahishakiye has been working as a part time trainer for a small IT company named CTC in Kigali. They have about 20 employees, doing IT training (as most IT companies in Rwanda do), installing networks and programming for NGOs and the Rwanda government.Now he is working for a health NGO outside the city. He told me a lot of very interesting details about the Rwandese IT business. There are a lot of companies, who work as public secretariat: Doing typing, copying, scanning and so on. Here exists only few IT companies, as I know them from Germany.

In our discussion we focused on the problems, IT startups have. There are a lot, I learned: The hardware, the internet connection, the money and the lack of knowledge.

There is a high demand of investment, because the IT start-ups don’t have the the ability to buy state-of-the-art computer equipment. IT companies with no financial backing have to buy their equipment in Dubai, where it’s cheaper. Emmanuel thinks they do this because of the many illegal products they have there, or they have the connections to get illegal products. IT from Europe is much higher quality, but the IT personell in Rwanda neither have contact to European sources nor money to buy state-of-the-art computer equipment. After I told him about Open Source Africa, he told me, that’s a great idea, mainly because the African IT companies can use Europe as a source for IT hardware. “Europeans can use this platform as a information base for business opportunities in Africa”, he is sure.

Rwandese programmers can’t compare with European”, mentioned Emmanuel as a potential problem. In his opinion, the difference between Rwandese and European skills is caused by the lack of high end IT equipment and the lack of good learning material: “Africans need to learn and get access to IT education.”

Emmanuel told me about a further problem IT companies have in Rwanda: the poor internet connection. Connection is on one hand very expensive, on the other hand is there a lack of bandwidth. A good connection is about 100 KBit/sec (other sources told me that they have 2 KBit/sec most of the time)

Antoine BigirimanaI asked Emmanuel about open source and he really didn’t know what I was talking about. “There is no law about the illegal use of software”, he argued (Antoine Bigirimana from E-tools, official distributor of Microsoft, told me otherwise). So MS Windows and other “expensive” software is copied widely. Emmanuel is sure that there are not many people in Africa who know about Open Source software. Emmanuel sees a great business opportunity in recording: African musicians and filmmakers don’t have access to do recording for an affordable price. There are neither music recording studios nor video recording studios in Africa, he told me.

E-ICT: The learning company in Kigali

Mittwoch, Februar 6th, 2008

Karitanyi Ntare

Karitanyi Ntare works as the project manager of E-ICT in Kigali. He worked a few years in the US as a programmer, but then he came back to Rwanda to build a software company in his home. “First, I planned to try it for just one year and go back in the United States, if it didn’t work”, he told me. ”But I stayed. Why should young programmers go out in foreign countries, when they can live and work at home.”

The team of E-ICTE-ICT provides local solutions, small networks, applications, data bases and data analysis mainly for the public sector. 45 people work for E-ICT. Part of the working force are 14 programmers, who work in PHP and Apache. “When I came back to Rwanda, my goal was to enter the local market – and build capacity.”

a classroom at E-ICTHis idea was, to setup E-ICT as an outsourcing source for IT companies in the USA. “But why not Europe”, he shrugs his shoulders. And the main advantage of Europe is evident: “The European market is closer – it’s just a six hour flight from Kigali”.

A cooperation network for European and African companies – Karitanyi Ntare likes the idea: “African IT companies don’t like disadvantageous partnerships”, he declares. “We don’t need aid, partnerships has to be sustainable”. African IT companies may not have the same project management and quality standards as European IT companies do. But: “There is a learning curve”. After a few projects with European companies African companies can attain the quality level of Europe. Mister Ntare thinks additionally that a web based cooperation network is not only good for an African-European cooperation: “There is a need for IT solutions in Africa. It would be helpful, if African IT companies could come together and cooperate.”