Top 10+ Websites from Africa

Listed below are some of the best websites from Africa and South Africa. Another good source of African IT news is ITWeb. My friend Thomas Otter writes some very insightful posts about technology in South Africa. Google recently expanded into Africa as well. Google has a specific site for South Africa.

Synthasite is a site where people can build their own Website, without needing any HTML or programming knowledge. Synthasite is a Web 2.0 platform; it uses drag and drop technology, and it’s free. Synthasite also offers free Web hosting and users can download their site onto their own computers. Vinny Lingham is Synthasite’s CEO. He’s also CEO of in Lingham Capital and founded incuBeta and Clicks2Customers.

Ushahidi – A place to track acts of violence in Kenya. Witnesses report what they’ve seen and where, and Ushahidi logs and maps it. Each reported and verified incident is marked on a map for viewers to see. Ushahidi offers buttons for others to use on their blogs and Websites to help spread the word and attract more users to the site.

Afrigator – A social media aggregator and directory for African citizens who publish on the Web. Afrigator showcases digital content – a blog, videocast, any site with an RSS feed – and markets it to the world. It also scans the Web for African-related tags and pulls them into the site. Categories for content include media, technology, competitions, for fun and HOWTO.

muti  is a social bookmarking site inspired by reddit and digg but dedicated to Africa. Registered users vote up or down on the content of links submitted by other users. Items can be viewed as hot, stats, new, top, most liked or most viewed.

Amatomu – tags itself as “the South African blogosphere, sorted.” Users can read blogs about business, technology, news and politics, entertainment, media and marketing, sport, life, humour and religion. Visitors can also search for their favorite bloggers or search for blog posts.

Blueworld (LassoSoft) – A software company producing products to create interactive, data driven Websites. LassoSoft offers a variety of products depending on the customer’s need. The site also has a community area where developers, providers and software enthusiasts can exchange information and ideas.

Zoopedup is a social networking site for car aficionados to meet and swap photos, videos, stories, tips and information. Members create an online garage for their autos and can also place their “ride” in a head-to-head “battle” with another car and have fellow users vote for their favorite. Events are also showcased at zoopedup.

Mamamikes – Web surfers with family or friends in Kenya or Uganda can send gifts safely and securely to their loved ones using this online service. Shopping vouchers are a popular gift at this site, as are the newly-added cell phone prepaid minutes. Other gift options include flowers, chocolates, restaurant and fuel vouchers, electronics and gifts for newborns.

Afrigadget – “Solving everyday problems with African ingenuity.” Bloggers and readers contribute stories showcasing innovations from around the African continent. These innovations help others overcome challenges faced in everyday life. There are a plethora of categories: Afrigadget, books, communication, energy, food, gadgets, health, how-to, ingenuity, innovator series, jua kali, material, metal, news, sanitation, toys, transportation, water and wood. The site also includes links to gadget sites and blogs of interest.

Clickatell – The Website of the world’s number one mobile message provider. Visitors to the site can learn about the products, the company, prices, and get product support. Pieter DeVilliers is the CEO and co-founder.

Ananzi – Devoted to servicing South Africa, Ananzi is a search engine and site directory. Ananzi is a free service to owners of South African Websites and sites of interest to South Africans. It was created in 1996.

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Martin Sacks – Visualizing companies around the world

Martin Sacks and HumanConcepts just announced the release of OrgPlus Enterprise Blueprint, further solidifying the company’s position as leading provider of workforce decision support software.OrgPlus Enterprise Blueprint uses a Web 2.0 solution and allows executives and managers from across a company to collaborate on organizational changes and planning decisions.Martin has been the CEO of HumanConcepts since founding the company in 2000. He had been a regular user of OrgPlus while serving as CEO of another software company and, liked the product so much that he acquired the technology and created HumanConcepts.In an interview with Entrepreneur magazine Martin said he is convinced that the best way to create a great product is to build a development team that closely mimics the entrepreneurial environment of a startup company. “In a startup,” he was quoted as saying, “the founder answers support calls, talks to customers and immediately translates what he’s heard into features for the next release.” He feels most big software companies are uncomfortable with that model and suffer (or at the least, their customers suffer) because of it.Based on HumanConcepts’ success with its OrgPlus line of organizational charting and workforce modeling solutions, he apparently practices what he preaches. OrgPlus can count 50,000 companies as customers, including Verizon, Kraft Foods, JCPenney and Best Buy, along with government entities and nonprofit outfits.Blogger Thomas Otter, formerly with SAP and now with Gartner, sang the praises of OrgPlus on his site, especially the software’s integration features: “If a third party vendor does something better than we do,” he wrote, “we should embrace and help them…Connect them with our customers and deliver a better all-around solution.”HumanConcepts is based in Sausalito, Calif., with offices in the United Kingdom and Germany.Martin, who grew up in northern South Africa, holds finance and accounting degrees from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He began his career as a management consultant with Ernst & Young, one of the largest professional services (taxes, assurance, auditing) firms in the world. While there, he gained an interest in business process improvement. In 1983 he founded software company Milan Systems and brought precision-design software TurboCAD to the United States. Milan was acquired in 1988 by IMSI, the maker of TurboCAD, and Martin became its director. In 1990 he became president and CEO of IMSI.He is also a South African Chartered Accountant.A few weeks ago HumanConcepts launched (in the United Kingdom) an online savings calculator, where human resources and other professionals can tabulate how much their organization can save by automating chart creation, improving employee communication, and speeding up data collection and workforce planning.PS: This Martin is not Martin Sacks the Australian actor.

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Mr SMS – Pieter de Villiers of Clickatell

Seems like Pieter de Villiers is a good name for South African success stories. There’s the rugby player, the hurdler, the business consultant, and the IT whiz. De Villiers (the whiz) is the CEO of Clickatell, the first (and leading) global high-speed service provider of bulk SMS messages. Its 8,000 customers can connect in over 200 countries. (Company motto: “Any Message, Anywhere”) Clickatell allows a business to communicate with its customers, suppliers and staff using a variety of formats (fax, land-line phone, pager, IP connected devices, and of course, cell phone) through a technology that is easy to use. Pieter and three other businessmen founded the company in 2000 in South Africa. Since 2006 Clickatell’s headquarters have been in Redwood Shores, Calif., but it has an office in Cape Town and in the United Kingdom. Clickatell just announced that it was selected by several leading health care organizations to improve communication with their patients. The organizations are using Clickatell to deliver critical information by cell phone. For example, in the United Kingdom a user can text “stop smoking” into their cell phone, then receive relevant information on kicking the habit. In the United States, a Georgia-based health care company is using Clickatell to help doctors and patients interact. Hospital discharge instructions, delivered by cell phone, can be more readily complied with. Other doctor’s orders can also be delivered by cell phone. Pieter started his career in 1997 in the optometry field and has sales, new business management and product development experience. In 1999 he was hired by Micrologix to identify Internet opportunities and to manage the organization’s ecommerce. Pieter also participates in several forums including Wireless Internet Caucus, GSM Association, and Open Mobile Alliance. Information on Pieter’s personal life isn’t readily available but you may get a chance to meet Pieter and the Clickatell group if you are attending the African Banking Technology Conference in Lagos, Nigeria May 7&8, or the NACHA Payments 2008, being held in Las Vegas May 18-21. Clickatell is participating in both events. Clickatell also powers the messaging for the world assembly of 140 parliaments.

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I am famous!

OK, not really. Elance posted a nice article about the way I use Elance to source service providers for different projects. I recently contracted a design house to develop a new WordPress template for me. You are viewing the end product. What do you think? Here is part of the Elance article:

Meet Carel Bekker, a technology expert, business consultant and Elance buyer, who left a corporate job to start his own strategy consulting firm, Beyond438. Beyond438 helps European and South African companies start business operations in the U.S.   

You can read the rest of the article here.

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Most influential South African VC – Roelof Botha

Roelof Frederik Botha is a partner at Sequoia Capital, one of the most influential VC firms in the world. Sequoia has the highest rating on TheFunded website of 3.9. Here is his bio from the Sequoia website:

Roelof Botha is a venture capitalist at Sequoia Capital focusing on services and software investments. Prior to joining Sequoia Capital in 2003, Roelof served as the Chief Financial Officer of PayPal (EBAY). Earlier, he worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company. Roelof is a certified actuary (Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries), and has a BS in Actuarial Science, Economics, and Statistics from the University of Cape Town and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.                                     

Botha is the grandson of Pik Botha (not to be confused with PW Botha), South Africa’s former minister of foreign affairs. He was born in South Africa and completed his Actuarial Science degree at the University of Cape Town. Botha also graduated with an MBA from the Stanford Business School in 2000. He received 3 MBA awards including the Henry Ford II award for being the top scholar.

Elon Musk, then CEO of Paypal, hired Botha in 2001 and 7 months before Paypal’s IPO he became its CFO. After Paypal’s acquisition by eBay for a cool $1.5bn he joined Sequoia Capital. According to the Mercury News Botha is one of a few VCs to turn its first deal into a billion dollar deal. That’s exactly what Botha did with Sequoia’s small investment in YouTube in 2006. The following SiliconBeat Q&A with Botha provides insight regarding YouTube before the Google acquisition.Botha is #22 on the 2008 Forbes Midas List, moving up one position from 2007. The Midas List chronicles the top deal makers in the world. He is also listed as one of the PayPal Mafia in a 2007 Fortune article.

 Here is Kara Swisher’s July 2007 interview with Botha at the Sequioa’s offices on Sand Hill Road: 

Botha is involved in the following Sequoia investments:

Not a lot is known about Botha’s personal life. He is married and has two sons aged 2 and 5 years old. He likes to play chess. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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What do you want to be remembered for?

I’m sure that you’ve noticed by now that I am a big fan of Guy Kawasaki. I really like his practical, let’s get it done attitude. His Art of the Start book is one of the best business books around.Read it!The last chapter of Guy’s book is on being a Mensch or “What do you want to be remembered for?” You can find a Guy’s post on this here and Joe McCarthy’s counter point here. Guy also contributes to Entrepreneur Magazine and in the March 2008 edition he writes about the same topic.Here are his 5 ways:

    • Help people who cannot help you. A mensch helps people who cannot ever return the favor. He doesn’t care if the recipient is rich, famous, or powerful. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t help rich, famous, or powerful people (indeed, they may need the most help), but you shouldn’t help only rich, famous, and powerful people.
    • Help without the expectation of return. A mensch helps people without the expectation of return–at least in this life. What’s the payoff? Not that there has to be a payoff, but the payoff is the pure satisfaction of helping others. Nothing more, nothing less.
    • Help many people. Menschdom is a numbers game: you should help many people, so you don’t hide your generosity under a bushel. (Of course, not even a mensch can help everyone. To try to do so would mean failing to help anyone.)
    • Do the right thing the right way. A mensch always does the right thing the right way. She would never cop an attitude like, “We’re not as bad as Enron.” There is a bright, clear line between right and wrong, and a mensch never crosses that line.
    • Pay back society. A mensch realizes that he’s blessed. For example, entrepreneurs are blessed with vision and passion plus the ability to recruit, raise money, and change the world. These blessings come with the obligation to pay back society. The baseline is that we owe something to society–we’re not a doing a favor by paying back society.

      It’s the end of your life…what do you want to be remembered for?[amtap book:isbn=1591840562]

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