Sunday, October 9, 2011

FT on Kenya's Own Youtube takes to the air

The Financial Times has also covered the launch of and made my day. Kenya keeps on getting positive press on its tech advances and it's a good thing for the country's perception:

The black, red and green stripes of the Kenyan flag behind the word “Tube” say it all. Kenya has its very own version of YouTube, the online video platform that has 800m users a month worldwide, uploading seven years’ worth of video to the site every day.

For now, it’s a Kenyanised version of but in the next few days the address should be fully up and running.

Google, which bought YouTube for $1.65bn in 2006, has set out to deliver tailor-made internet goodies for all its African markets as it looks to encourage more people from the region to get online.

Although Africa’s one billion people constitute 15 per cent of the world’s population, they represent only 5.6 per cent of the world’s internet usage.

Already, Google is available in Swahili, but it still lacks local online content that will actually show up in search engine results. A growing body of locally-made content, combined with the effect of tweeting pages and sharing links on Facebook, may help.

Browse Kenya’s YouTube site and you will find clips of speeches from regional presidents, adverts explaining how to use a condom, wild game in the great outdoors and interviews with the new chief justice broadcast by regional media houses keen to embrace online television.

“Google looks at the long-term,” Google’s sub-Saharan Africa regional lead Joe Mucheru told beyondbrics. “We want to create local products – we are setting up the ecosystem for early adopters.”

Already it has installed cache servers, which help retain information at local internet exchange points to speed up loading times. Mucheru says this alone has increased traffic volumes by a factor of six. Kenya is home to more than 8m internet users, about 20 per cent of the population, and many of Kenya’s 21m mobile phone subscribers access the internet via their mobile phones as smartphone prices drop.

The company, which says it won’t develop the revenue-making advertising side in Kenya for some years, is also trialling free wifi hotspots at Nairobi shopping malls and is looking forward to the rollout of LTE, which will supercede the latest 3G mobile phone network, once the government completes the tendering process.

So if you want to see candid footage of a Kenya police highway brawl or seek out the latest band, you know where to go.

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