TANZICT blog 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for TANZICT blog. Most of the viewers coming from Tanzania while United States of America & Finland are not far behind. TANZICT appreciates all our blog visitors who have spent their time visiting the blog, reading our contents, sharing the stories and giving us feedback. Looking forward for a great year on 2015.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Story of a young Tanzanian maker


Nassoro Selemani

Quiet morning at Buni hub, the hub is being renovated ready for Buni version 2.0, whereby the hub will have new look and more tools and resources to create conducive environment for innovators and entrepreneurs working at the hub. Nassor Selemani, a young innovator visited the hub for an interview session with the hub managers. Nassor visited the hub few weeks ago to showcase some of his projects and prototypes that he has been developing from his hometown in Same, Kilimanjaro, Northern Tanzania.

Nassoro is coming from a family of two kids. He is living with his father who is not in good health condition. His mother and brother has passed. Currently, he is Dar es Salaam visiting his relatives. Nassoro brother in law was so much amazed with what he can do after seeing some of his works. He decided to bring  Nassoro to Buni hub to see if Buni can support him on his projects and expose him to opportunities that are available for him out there.

Nassor started to create gadgets when he was still in primary school. He created his first model of car when he was in standard five. The car was using the magnetic forces to navigate from one area to the other. Currently, the car can navigate even further since he is using electric motors instead of magnets to make it navigate.

“Am working on developing a quad-copter like the one you show me last time, the one you called drone.” Nassoro Selemani

Nassoro has been making IMG_6823different things for the past five years, some of his projects includes; digital clock, short distance phones, electrical boats and the magnetic controlled car. The only thing that drives him to work on those different gadgets is the passion that he has on making things. Nassoro loves physics and chemistry, on one of his projects he created a rocket using mixture of homemade chemicals.

The first time he came at Buni hub, he was exposed to the drone technologies. He was very interested on how the drones work and according to the interview we had with him, he has already started to work on making a quad-copter. He wants to attach a camera at the bottom and make it operate like a drone which takes pictures from the air.

When we asked him if has already use a computer before and if he owns one, he replied that he has been using internet to gather information about gadgets and learn some concepts of different gadgets and how they work. He requested  us if we can arrange for him to get a personal computer that he can use to learn and explore more, that will be a major help to him. The current computer he is using is founder at his brother’s office and rarely he got the chance to use it.

“If you are good on something just work on it and people will realize how good you are” Nassoro Selemani


Nassoro testing his phone with Brian.

Sometime, early next year Buni will possibly be working on project to make drones from locally available resources and import few tools to assist in the process. Buni hub has given a chance to Nassoro to come and work at the hub and to use the tools that will be available on our new mini fabrication laboratory at the hub.

Nassoro is still studying and he is currently not living in Dar es Salaam, we have advised him to visit us during the Easter holidays and he will have a chance to work on his drown project with the makers team from the hub.

Recap of activities happening at Buni hub between October and November 2014

October started with the awarding ceremony for the innovation fund. The event occurred on 2nd of October. Winners of this batch of the innovation fund were gathered at Buni hub together with stakeholders from  different public and private sector organization witnessing the occasion. TANZICT project through the innovation fund initiative, it has been funding ideas and early stage startups in Tanzania to boost them to the next level.


Team Kipepeo presenting their prototype.

On 15th of October, the orientation session and module 1 of the team entrepreneurship coaching session started. The programme is being coordinated with TANZICT project and an expert from Finland Ville Keranen. The training took place at Kipepeo Beach and it was facilitated by Ville and Iiro Kolehmainen.  Over 15 people from different organization from public and private sector attended the session. The session is a part of a complete four modules programme. The aim of the programme is to equip the stakeholders with skills and knowledge required to run and supervise team entrepreneurship programmes at their organizations. Stakeholders were coming from universities, technology hubs, entrepreneurship centers and living labs.


Printing om progress.

On 29th of October, Introduction to 3D printing session was conducted at the hub. The session was facilitated by miss Jacqueline Dismas one of the mentors of the “make fellows” community at the hub.  The training involve introducing people to 3D printing technologies; assembling, calibration and operation of the 3D printer. From the session Jacqueline introduce the audience to the software required to operate the 3D printer as well as on how to setup the 3D printer and get the required output.

On November 4th Buni hub was honored to host Unreasonable East Africa CEO, Mr. Joachim Ewechu who visited Buni for an info session about Unreasonable East Africa Programme and the benefit that Startups from Tanzania can get by participating in the programme. The info session lasted for few hours and people got opportunity to interact and ask questions about the programme. The Unreasonable East Africa Institute gives an “unreasonable advantage” to entrepreneurs creating solutions to the East Africa’s biggest social and environmental problems.

demolaOn 10th of November we hosted an expert from the Demola team. The expert shared the concept of Demola with the community members and stakeholders from the technology and business ecosystem in Tanzania. We had stakeholders from different public and private sector listening to the concept and how it works before start to brainstorm on whether the concept can work in Tanzania or not. It was a very interesting discussion and the attendees learned a lot from the session.



Networking after the Ampion tour info session.

Ampion East Africa Tour kickoff event in Dar, On 15th of November we hosted the Ampion startup bus, the bus that was moving all over major cities in East Africa including; Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Nairobi and Kigali, creating startup teams and provide them with the skills and knowledge needed to run successive business while receiving mentoring and support from the team of experts who were travelling with them in the bus. The trip started in Dar es Salaam at Buni hub where the teams gathered together and startup experts from different parts of the world shared their experience with the team before travelling to Nairobi on the next day.

10429389_10152410889267027_2048427881280898667_nOn 17th of November startups and members of Buni hub arrived to the Slush event in Finland. Community manager, Brian Paul and some few startups from Dar es Salaam attended the largest technology event in Europe. They did get the chance to present what is happening in Tanzania and share their experience as start-ups coming from East Africa.

On November 18th, BUNI welcomed its very first hold up session organized by organization called “Why Not Women” to solve a challenge for Apps & Girls, a Tanzania-based social enterprise. A hold up, is a creative brainstorming session that would gather social entrepreneurs and students during a 2 hours-session in order to provide free creative business solutions for a social business. The methodology has been implemented by a French organisation called MakeSense.


Brainstorming during the session.

During the hold up, more than 15 young creative people met at BUNI to help Apps & Girls change parents’ mentalities about ICT trainings for their daughters. Apps&Girls  is a social organisation based in Dar Es Salaam that provides free ICT courses to 10-18 years old girls. With Apps & Girls, Carolyne Ekyarisiima contributes to bridge the gender gap in ICT in Tanzania, and empower young girls with excellent and valuable skills.

Finally on 26th of November we had an info session of  “Intel app challenge”. Buni hub is already doing good on the challenge with over 30 mobile apps from the hub being submitted to the challenge and we are looking forward for impressive results.

Experience the tech weekend at Buni hub this weekend. 

Buni_CommunityExplore the new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) available in Tanzania. Meet people who are currently working in the ICT sector, ask questions, and make connections. Find new opportunities to get involved. And win some cool prizes! The activities will be free and you are all welcome.

Buni Hub will be hosting :


Show us your creativity and tech skills in solving some pressing issues in the education sector in our country. Your team will have 6 hours to come up with a prototype to win the hearts of our judges. Win entry to the mentoring program at Buni Hub to make your idea come alive! The hackathon will start from 8:00 am. The teams are required to be at the hub by 7:00 am on 13th December 2014

Software Design Showcase 

Submit your designs for a new and innovative software. You will have a chance to showcase it to our judges and sponsors to gain exposure and feedback for your ideas. Show the world the stuff! The aim is to add more some values to your application and to have real time users feedback, don’t miss this great opportunity. Software exhibitions while be from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm on 12 December 2014.

Graphics Design Competition 

Design the best user interface frontend for a program developed by Smart Codes and get hired on the spot. The company is looking for talent and it could be you! The activity will take place on 12th December 2014. Don’t miss it. Be at the hub by 2:00 pm.

Where: Buni Hub (COSTECH building, Ground Floor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, Kijitonyama.
When: 12-13 December 2014

Click here to sign up for the activities:

Don’t forget to the check out the event at the Kijitonyama TTCL grounds also! Music, games, prizes, and lots of interesting ICT opportunities. It will be all day fun on 13 December.

This event is organized and hosted by the following organizations:

Buni Hub is an open space at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) for the Tanzania technologist community to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and a culture of co-creation.

Access Brand Tanzania is a marketing support firm in experiential and social marketing communication services.

Nikweli.com is a job matching platform for industry and service sector workers in Tanzania. We are a people bank; unlike traditional job banks.

Slush 2014 – Lazers, Smoke, Slush!

SlushBlog1-3They had my heart at the door!

How many active users do you have?

How much revenue have you generated?

What is your viral coefficient?

The start-up game is all about numbers. So what better way to reflect on my experiences attending one of the worlds largest start-up conferences than to begin by talking about the numbers.

Let’s kick this off with 114,000. That’s the total square meters of space within the Messukeskus venue hall.

Next is 14,000. That’s the number of attendees at Slush 2014.

Followed by 4 – the number of stages hosting thematic streams of presentations from product launches, to success stories, and speaker panels.

Finally, the number 2. Not one but two full days from 10am – 6pm, all complimented with an immeasurable number of side events, meetups, and parties.

These numbers are even more impressive when one considers the fact that the entire conference is organized and run by a massive crew of 1000 university students and volunteers.

In short, Slush is one of the most intense technology conferences I have ever been to. The Messukeskus venue was transformed into a science fiction fantasy land filled with every laser in Northern Europe. The four stages were spread throughout the cavernous interior. Despite the venues size there was just was not enough room for the mass of bodies that gathered at the Silver Stage for the kick off of the conference*.

*WARNING: Video contains mind boggling laser effects. May trigger a number of medical conditions. Best viewed from a safe distance. And with sunglasses on.

To paraphrase a popular internet meme, one does not merely walk between stages at Slush. There is too little time with too many great sessions going on. You hustle. The frenzy of action is reflected by the frenzy of emotions one feels. I beamed with pride as Nisha Ligon shared the journey of Ubongo Kids and the realities of establishing an education technology start-up in Tanzania. I watched in awe as Alex Klein showcased the Kano microcomputer, a project that I had been following since it’s first Kickstarter campaign. I buzzed with excitement as Aape Pohjavirta launched the Funzi, a new mobile learning service, that Kinu has partnered with. Watching Richard Stallman speak on his work fighting for freedom in the digital world cemented my migration to the open source realm. And I was a little perplexed when Rovio Entertainment’s big announcement turned out to be gender colour coded school uniforms.

SlushBlog2-1Aape Pohjavirta, Chief Evangelist of Funzi, launching their new mobile learning service

After the heady two days of Slush, the trip continued with opportunities to explore the Finnish start-up ecosystem, including  meetups with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accelerators, and venture capital firms.

As compared to the Tanzanian start-up ecosystem, where stakeholders are still largely operating in silos, the Finnish ecosystem is akin to a basket of eels; where ministries, industry, universities, research, and start-ups work together to drive the economy forward. Launched at Slush 2014, the Business with Impact (BEAM) initiative, championed by Tekes and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, is an example of this approach. BEAM will disburse fifty million Euros over five years with the aim of enabling “Finnish companies, research organizations and NGOs to expand into new markets and solve development problems with new innovations”. It seems clears that the Government, and it’s organs, fully appreciate the role that they have to play in growing the economy. The BEAMefits for Finnish stakeholders are clear.

For stakeholders within the Tanzanian start-up ecosystem the opportunities for knowledge transfer could potentially have a huge impact. As a co-founder of an innovation space in Dar es Salaam that aims to grow and accelerate Tanzanian start-ups, I would urge careful consideration when engaging ‘aid for trade’, or as I prefer to call them ‘traid’, funding mechanisms. With the vast differences in the health of the startup ecosystems between the two countries, importing Finnish start-ups into Tanzania could negatively impact the growth of home grown initiatives. As such the litmus test for me is focused on two points:

1) As with any relationship, partner selection is extremely important. To hit the often illusive win-win point, Tanzanian organizations and startups need to engage with appropriate partners that compliment the work that they are already doing. Chasing Euros will have a negative impact on the future of the local ecosystem.

2) Technology that is being imported needs to be open and hackable. There is no need rebuild the wheel in each ecosystem. If there is a Finnish start-up with the right tool for the job then by all means let’s kick the service provision into high gear, as long as there is a way for Tanzanian start-ups to connect to the technology and build complimentary services and products.

The meetings with the Finnish accelerators and venture capital firms were not as productive as I hoped they would be. One of the first things that they admitted was that they just did not understand the context or ecosystems that we came from. In the end no harm, no foul. The experience of pitching in front of a different audience was well worth the time spent practising. Pitching, like any other skill, requires copious amounts of practice. In addition, the conversations did solidify my resolve to raise a local fund, backed by investors that understand the market.

Slush 2014 was a spectacle. Akin to the games at the Roman Colosseum, the razzmatazz was off the Richter scale. But the show is balanced by a strong imperative to constantly tinker with the system to achieve greater outcomes. During a presentation on the Green/Impact stage, the speaker lamented the failures of the Finnish education system. The very few students that received less than a perfect pedestal to excel as individuals, were of such great a concern that the value of the entire system was being questioned. And this despite the fact that the Finnish education system has consistently been rated as one of the best in the world.

This sentiment extends past policies, legislation, and organization. It is part of the very mindset of the Finnish people. On the last night, after experiencing a traditional Finnish sauna followed by a plunge in freezing waters, we were led to Doner Harju by Finnish friends who had lived in Tanzania and were well acquainted with my passion for food. The restaurant had ‘Star Wars Episode One’ levels of great expectations, considering that I was told for the first couple of weeks there was a line around the block to get in. Thankfully, Doner Harju not only lived up to the expectations but blew right past them, unlike the aforementioned unfortunate misstep in the Star Wars legacy.

SlushBlog3Doner Harju founder displays Finnish humility hiding behind the newspaper article.

I tend to try limit the use of grandiose statements like ‘the best I ever had’ when speaking about food, owing to a personal view that a great meal is an experience that that memory alone cannot recreate. But the lamb and chicken plates at Doner Harju were just that. I cannot think of a single other doner kebab experience that came close to the intricacies and balance presented that night. I had the good fortune to speak to one of the founders, whose passion for the food they created exemplified the strive for perfection. He explained that the reason they had not moved on to a larger premises and grown the business past the one location was because the doner recipe just ‘wasn’t perfect yet’.
This drive for perfection through prototyping, iteration, and results monitoring is possibly the greatest cultural export that Finland has. Past all the hype, the basket of eels is taking great strides to prove, that for start-ups, not all roads lead to Palo Alto.

– Johnpaul Barretto, Kinu