March 23rd,2017
With the title that went "Can innovation really help our cities?" the #kLabTalks event that was held recently, unfolded mentioning the role innovation plays into the development of smart cities, as the talk went on however other critical aspects that goes with smart cities were touched on; citing mainly the involvement of data and information which leads finally to CyberSecurity issues. Having one of the great minds you would ever meet explaining his point of view on the matter; Rafi Rich and being hosted by a tech startup community we ended up talking more and wider than you would expect, we will not touch on every point mentioned during the #kLabTalks which by the way you can watch later on Youtube, but 4 points made it clear on the mindset startups should have:

1. Don't be afraid to fail: Asked if the success of startups in Israel has any relationship with the fact that most of Israelis at least 80% have to server at least 3 years in the army, you would expect that the response would be kind of; discipline or perseverance but none of this is the case; instead the art of learning from the mistakes and room for improvement was key. Elaborating on this, he gave an example of how if a soldier crashes a Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 (aircraft) that costs around $100 M, the person would return, get together with others, explain what happened to others, learn from the mistakes, learn how it should be avoided in the future and finally move on, not the other way of imprisonment and severe sanction of having burnt $100 M in minutes. This gives the clear and net picture of why people are not afraid of trying in the startup nation.

2. Don't do it the German way:
Mentioning this, Rafi highlighted how as the German saying goes "The devils are in the details" should not be the way of a startup, he then elaborated on the "German way" how you would first sit, list everything in detail, plan on how everything will go, how much you will need for every aspect alongside the process and so on... However only big companies like CISCO or IBM have the resources, time and people to do that, startups don't have that and therefore should improvise and start working on whichever product they have and if they fail, they should learn from point 1, and the cycle goes on and on.

3. Should start small but can be scaled:
When big companies like Microsoft or Oracle are developing solutions, they target the global market which is a challenge because there is no way the whole world would have one same problem to be addressed by that same solution, which is why most of the solutions are tried to fit a specific problem and at the end fails because it wasn't solely developed for that particular problem, hence solutions should be developed for specific problems and this is even clearer when you take the example of Online payment versus Mpesa.

4. You should live the problem you are trying to solve:
Starting stating that a startup should never be a one person team, the main point isn't however the technology that will be needed in the development of the solution rather the best understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. He stressed out that if the not the people who are living the problem the ones trying to solve that, any one else should take the time to live that problem, as the famous quote from Albert Einstein goes “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

Please join us on Social media for more detailed and deep discussions, and hope this was a good read that will influence the way you will do things in future.
February 07th,2017
AgriGO apps, developed by GO (www.go.rw) is primarily assisting a farmer to improve the current yield, by availing the right, modern and personalized best practices in farming through personalized SMS in local languages.

What is a personalized SMS for farmer?

The personalized SMS is the one customized and sent individually to the farmer who use AgriGO to help him applying the modern farming and follow the proven crops growing schedule, depending on planted seed. Like other mobile phone users, a farmer has both right and ability to send and receive SMS when communicating, regardless the expected interest of sending or receiving SMS. The farmer who uses AgriGO, is able to record his farming activities from day one of preparing land to the day of harvest. His recording includes quantity and cost per unit for all inputs, to mean seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and the human resources involved, then from there based on his record, AgriGO is able to assist him to maintain his plantation schedule through SMS, and provide him with proven scientific best practices to apply and result in tremendous increasing of yield.

a. Best practices content to increase yield, growth of revenue!

The research has indicated that the application of right best practices increase the yield up to five times even more vis a vis to traditional way of farming applied by our parents. AgriGO avail right and best practices to the farmer considering the quantity of seed sowed, plus his location. The advisory services provided to the farmer are customized from the available researches and best practices recommended by Rwanda Agriculture Board, plus the results of Farmer Field Schools program at district level, as well other content collected from different stakeholders.

b. Negotiate the profitable price!

Not all the time market is fair or at least be transparent from the point of view of a farmer. Most of the farmer sell their harvest in a non-regulated market, to mean it is all about who can negotiate well, price transparency is not there simply because there’s no existing tool to prove the cost of production. A farmer who uses AgriGO, has ability to check the fair price based on the cost of production so that all his negotiation will be supported by recorded activities.

In Rwanda, the agriculture sector occupies approximately 72% of the active population, most of them women, and contributes around 33% of the national GDP, 70% of the country’s export revenue and about 90% of national food needed. The review of the PSTA II and the first Rwanda Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program Compact (CAADP) shows that the agriculture sector has been responsible for almost 50% of the total poverty reduction of 12% points from 2008 to 2012. This resulted from increased production (productivity gains), increased sales of production and increased interventions which drove productivity gains (yield increases up to 7 times and an average of 4 times across many crops (Austin, 2015)).

AgriGO's comprehensive approach

The idea behind AgriGO is not only to empower local smallholder farmers but also to create a digital agriculture ecosystem bringing together different stakeholders in agriculture. On the one hand farmers can create an AgriGO account to get information about basically all topics directly concerning their daily business, like explained above. On the other hand AgriGO provides accounts for different stakeholders in agriculture. For instance, AgriGO can provide a management platform for agricultural cooperatives that have to manage thousands of farmers or can provide an account for financial institutions that want to inform farmers about credit possibilities. So AgriGO supports farmers directly in their daily business but also acts as a communication interface between farmers and their stakeholders.

Data transmission

In general, the information for the farmers is provided through USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) technology that means farmers do not need a smartphone or an internet connection to receive data. They only need access to GSM network (same network as for voice calls or SMS) to create an account with their mobile phone number and receive requested data. Push content provided for example by a bank advertising financial opportunities or reminders of best farming practices will be sent per SMS to the farmers.
February 03rd,2017
With now different opinions from different people around the globe some now believe that Internet should be a Human Right, this was one of the take away that was shared among several ideas that was discussed.

The issue of the 100% Internet content access was raised alongside supportive points where it was clear from that side that all should be free to the user and let one decide what to do with it, however the issue of 100% free Internet was perceived and addressed in a different way by people that operate at a country level, meaning ISP (Internet Service Provider) where the example of family restrictions "Parental control" was given and that the same should be applied for the sake of protecting the population. Users expressed their understanding about the issue and their concern about it, however they were keen and urged the ISPs to make it clear while they are making deals with customers; something that was referred to as the "Terms and Conditions agreement" between clients and ISPs where they (users) know in the first place that there are some content that they won't be able to access once they purchase services from the ISP.

The subject is being discussed on in 4 different corners of planet Earth and situations may vary from region to region and one might wonder if instead of putting more effort in this it wouldn't be a good idea to educate people ways they could get around the issue of being denied access to information according to certain places -Technically.

Do you think Internet is free in Rwanda? Is there something that should be improved in that regard, please share your thoughts with us @klabrw