South Africa

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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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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Little-known facts about South Africa

Juluka is a monthly magazine published in the US and according to its editors: a magazine embracing South Africa and her people. Btw, Juluka is a Zulu word and it means, “sweat”. It is also the name of a well-known South African band led by Johnny Clegg.In the March 2008 on Juluka magazine is a list of interesting and little-known facts about South Africa. Here is a partial list:

  • The only street is the world to house 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street in Soweto. 
  • South Africa is the 2nd largest exporter of fruit.
  • South Africa generates 2/3 of Africa’s electricity and has the cheapest electricity in the world.
  • GM South Africa will be the only manufacturing site outside of the US to build the Hummer H3.

Do you know any other interesting facts about South Africa?

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Hasso Plattner (ex-SAP CEO) Ventures launches $45mm VC fund in South Africa

I’ve mentioned Hasso Plattner a number of times in my blog. He is the colorful co-founder and former CEO of SAP AG. He is also the father of SAP’s client-server 3-tiered product called R/3.This week Hasso Plattner launch HP Ventures Africa (Hasso Plattner — not to be confused with Hewlett Packard) in Cape Town, South Africa. Vendorprisey mentioned it in his blog. HPV is also active in Europe. Jeff Nolan used to work for SAP Ventures and he had blogged about his first meeting with Hasso Plattner.I quote from this week’s BusinessWeek article:

Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa will be targeted mainly at companies in telecom, mobile applications, media, software, renewable energy, and energy-saving technologies.

and from the website:

A new R350 million venture capital fund has been launched to give innovators in South Africa a leg up into the global technology arena.The Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa, named after the co-founder of software giant SAP, aims to invest in and manage a portfolio of investments that have a unique innovative offering either based on the business model, product offering or underlying technology.Focusing predominantly on activities in South Africa and later in other emerging African markets, the technology investments will concentrate on telecommunications, mobile applications, media and software as well as clean technology investments such as renewable energy, energy-saving concepts and similar business segments in early stages of their development.Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa aims to identify companies that have the potential to succeed on an international level and will provide access to an international network of leading companies, venture capital firms and institutions in the technology arena, according to Andrea Böhmert, who is going to head the fund.”In the past SA technology companies have found it almost impossible to get funding from international groups outside of South Africa,” said Böhmert.“All start up businesses know, that it is extremely important not only to get investment funding but also assistance in accessing global markets. This is where our fund can score. Prof. Plattner and co-funders MAN Ferrostaal will be able to `open doors´ for start ups that would never be accessible otherwise across the IT industry as well as in the industrial solutions sector.”

C|Net talks about the fund’s Green focus.And finally you can click here, to submit a proposal to the Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa Fund. Good luck!

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