Scott Hanselman

NXTA - NexTech Africa Conference - Day 1 perspectives

February 04, 2017 Comment on this post [6] Posted in Africa | Musings
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imageI'm in Nairobi, Kenya this week attending a fantastic event called NexTech Africa. It is a free event that showcases the best of what Africa's Startup community has to offer. This event is mostly focused on East Africa's tech community but it included delegates from all over the continent. I'm told over 1000 people are here.

My wife is Zimbabwean and we have family all over in places like South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, and friends in a dozen other countries. I personally feel that access to technology and technical education is a fantastic way to help Africa's burgeoning middle class.

However, this trip was for listening. It's silly for me (or anyone who isn't living on the continent) to fly in and "drop the knowledge" and fly out. In fact, it's condescending. So I'm spending this week visiting startups, talking to engineers, university students, and tech entrepreneurs.

I spoke at length with the engineers at BRCK, a Kenya-based startup that has a "brick" that's a portable router, NAS, Compute Module, Captive Portal, and so much more. They can drop one of these a little outside of town and give wi-fi to an entire area. Even better, there could be hyper-local content on the devices. Folks with 30+Mbps Internet may be spoiled with HD content, but why not have a smart router download TV shows and Movies that can be served (much like movies stored on an airplane's hard drive that you can watch via wi-fi while you fly) to everyone in the local area. The possibilities are endless and they're doing all the work from hardware to firmware to software in-country with local talent.


I also visited iHub's Technology Innovation Community and saw where they teach classes to local students, have maker- and hacker-spaces, support a UXLab and host local tech meetups. I'll be hopefully communicating more and more with the new friends I've met and perhaps bring a few of them to the podcast so you can hear their stories yourself.


These are uniquely African solutions to problems that Africans have identified they want to solve. I am learning a ton and have been thrilled to be involved. Since I focus on Open Source .NET and .NET Core, I think there's an opportunity for C# that could enable new mobile apps via Xamarin with backends written in ASP.NET Core and running on whatever operating system makes one happy.

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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February 04, 2017 21:45
It's easy to get stuck in the rut of what's been done or what you know. I think we'll see better and more interesting solutions the more we look outside the (western) box. Sounds like you had a blast, thanks for sharing.
February 05, 2017 18:50
Hello my friend, I am a Kenyan from Mombasa County & an ICT bachelors degree student. I didn't know you were coming to Nairobi else I could have arranged. Please inform me next time. Thank you. I've been facing the following problem with my dotnet core app. May you have a suggestion please. Thank you again.

C:\>dotnet new

Welcome to .NET Core!
Learn more about .NET Core @ Use dotnet --help to see available commands or go to

The .NET Core tools collect usage data in order to improve your experience. The data is anonymous and does not include command-line arguments. The data is collected by Microsoft and shared with the community.
You can opt out of telemetry by setting a DOTNET_CLI_TELEMETRY_OPTOUT environment variable to 1 using your favorite shell.
You can read more about .NET Core tools telemetry @

A command is running to initially populate your local package cache, to improve restore speed and enable offline access. This command will take up to a minute to complete and will only happen once.
Decompressing 100% 17577 ms
Expanding 100% 316048 ms
Failed to create prime the NuGet cache. restore failed with: 1
February 05, 2017 18:52
Failed to create prime the NuGet cache. restore failed with: 1
Access to the path 'C:\Documents and Settings' is denied.
February 06, 2017 19:35
This is so you. Well done, sir.
February 06, 2017 23:56
Thanks for opening my eyes to the incredible work being done in Africa. I remember you speaking in Egypt a long time ago, too.
March 01, 2017 5:39
So you! Nice picture :D

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.