The Computer Society of Kenya

Since 1986

How safe is Google's Covid-19 app?



Google has introduced a Covid-19 mobile app that has appeared on all mobile handsets.  This has caused panic to many subscribers who are wondering whether they are being monitored as they go about their daily lives.

The application has a very noble purpose of trying to alert mobile phone subscribers if they have been in close proximity to some one who is Covid-19 positive.

It uses bluetooth technology - the short range, wireless technology in your TV remote control that helps flip through channels.

If two subscribers have registered and enabled both their Covid-19 mobile apps and their bluetooth, their phones would be able to exchange messages in near proximity whenever they bypass each other.


Where are the Google Internet balloons?


TUESDAY JUNE 30, 2020 

It is three months since President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the coming of the Google Internet balloons. He was instantly met with quite some backlash on social media.

Many thought the timing was quite misplaced since Kenyans were in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown had began to affect the health and livelihoods of Kenyans.

So to most Kenyans, providing Google balloons was quite far removed from the realities of the pandemic.

But I gave the president the benefit of doubt. Perhaps the Google balloons would come in handy to assist in providing affordable Internet to power the rapidly emerging remote way of doing things.


Blue Whale and Wannacry expose the internet’s dark side


Last week, two things happened that exposed the dark side of the internet in a way we have never experienced it before.

The first was ‘Blue Whale,’ an online game that has allegedly claimed the life of one Kenyan and many others across the globe.

The second was a ransomware attack dubbed ‘WannaCry’ that is still spreading globally across Windows-related servers and other computers that had not previously been patched up or protected.

Let’s start off with the Blue Whale online game. It’s an addictive game that offers teenagers a 50-day series of challenges with the ultimate and final one being to commit suicide.

Whereas teenage suicides are happening while the game is online, debate continues as to whether the game is actually the cause of the suicides. Either way, the orientation of the game is quite chilling.


Is Kenya's blockchain and AI dream dead?


Tuesday June 09, 2020

It is one year since the government launched the Kenyan blockchain  and Artificial Intelligence report in a well-publicised event at the ministry of ICT.  It is perhaps a good time to look back and reflect on what has been achieved or not over that period.

When one talks about blockchain, what comes to the mind of many is the money aspects made popular by the bitcoin crypto currency craze.

Whereas crypto currencies are the first demonstrated use case of the blockchain experiment, they represent a very small part of what is the full scope of possibilities within the blockchain space.


IEBC 2017 election report blunders display commission’s IT challenges


Tuesday May 19, 2020

Last weekend, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), out of its own volition, decide to upload what it called a data report on the outcome the 2017 election.

The report was immediately pulled down from their website after many Kenyans started spotting basic errors like winning candidates being labelled as belonging to a different party, or even losing candidates being reported as having won the particular constituency or county seat.

With Kenyan election results over the last fifteen years having been contested fiercely with blood and tears, both in and outside court, the mistakes spotted in that report ignited the debate about how credible Kenyan elections are.


Is your Internet service provider making working from home a great experience?


Wednesday May 06, 2020

Covid-19 has forced thousands of corporate workers to work from home by remotely logging into their offices.

Many have suddenly realised that their internet infrastructure maybe sufficient for mundane tasks like reading and responding to emails but hardly adequate to sustain live, interactive video sessions.

If you are hosting a one-hour face-to-face meeting with thirty or more of your office mates, half of them will keep getting thrown out of the virtual meeting room every now and then.

Even for those with a steadier link, their voice signal may keep fading in and out every so often.


Demand for faster, cheaper internet rises to tackle crisis


Thursday April 30, 2020

Dealing with the health and economic challenges of Covid-19 has exposed the need for faster and cheaper mobile internet that can be expanded to the last mile of African populations.

During a policy webinar on 'leveraging technology in assisting African countries in the fight against Covid-19' United Nations Under Secretary-General and executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Ms Vera Songwe said the continent needs mass internet access that penetrates to rural villages.

Organised in collaboration with Ant Financial Services of the Alibaba Group, the livestreamed event brought together leaders of the Asian tech giant, some African ministers of technology and telecommunications, private sector actors across the continent and digital economy activists who agreed that technology is a common denominator in mitigating the impact of the pandemic, restoring livelihoods and tackling similar challenges in the future.


Private schools go online in search of fees for survival



Private schools are turning to online classes to generate income from fees as they fight for survival in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has led to the closure of learning institutions.

As the economic impact from the pandemic begins to bite, there are fears that some private schools could be driven out of business due to loss of their main source of income: Fees.

Elite schools such as Braeburn Schools, the Aga Khan Academy, Banda School, Cavina School, Premier Academy, Kenton School, Rusinga School and Sabis have reached an agreement with parents to charge fees for teaching students online.

This will boost their cash flow and facilitate paying salaries for teachers and non-teaching staff, maintenance of facilities and repayment of loans for investors who have tapped bank credit to build or expand their schools.


We can use technology to distribute Covid-19 relief food


Thursday April 16, 2020

The recent food stampede at Kibra makes one wonder how a very tech-savvy country like Kenya could not make basic use of its financial infrastructure to deliver food relief to the vulnerable groups.

There are already existing banking platforms that the government uses to disburse funds to vulnerable groups like the pensioners and other senior members of the Kenyan population.

Additionally, there is also the world-famous M-Pesa and other mobile money platform that can practically reach 90 per cent of Kenyans, wherever they are across the country.

Why couldn’t the politicians use any of these digital platforms to send relief to the vulnerable groups?


Did 5G cause coronavirus?

walubengoDAILY NATION By John Walubengo 

Wednesday April 08, 2020

By Did 5G cause coronavirus?

There have been several clips shared on social media showing some pundits, celebrities, scientist and other commentators discussing how the new 5G technologies triggered the coronavirus.

Commonly known as conspiracy theories, the most absurd one claims that the Chinese manufactured the coronavirus in a lab in Wuhan and are spreading it through their 5G networks.

We shall ignore that one with the contempt it deserves and instead focus on the others that sound abit more convincing.


Google's internet balloons now in Kenyan airspace

googleGoogle's Loon internet balloons have finally gone airborne in the Kenyan space ten days after the government authorised the tech-giant and Telkom to deploy the balloons.

Data from Flight Radar shows that the two balloons (HBAL092 and HBAL125) are currently airborne in Migori and Homabay area over 60,000 feet.

The balloons were launched in Nakuru and have since travelled though Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Kajiado, Garissa and Tana River counties.

But it is not clear whether the balloons were on a test flight or are already connecting Kenyans with high speed 4G internet services.

Last week, President Kenyatta announced that the government is working with Google Loon to help Kenyans in remote areas access internet services in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.


Kenya mobile taxes too high, says GSMA

M-PesapxThe Treasury has been advised to cut duties on cellular services and mobile phones to boost the country’s telecommunication sector.

A new study by the GSM Association (GSMA) says Kenya’s mobile industry and consumers, despite being billed as a front runner in Africa, is one the region’s most heavily taxed inhibiting its potential to grow further and support other economic sectors.

The study conducted by professional services firm EY on behalf of GSMA notes that the Kenyan mobile sector makes a large contribution in taxes and fees relative to its economic footprint.

It says that while mobile market revenue accounts for three percent of Kenya’s GDP, the sector’s tax and fee payments accounts for around 6.5 percent of government total tax revenue.

“The tax contribution of the mobile sector is therefore 2.2 times its size in the economy,” says the study released recently.

“Mobile consumers bear 57 percent of the total sector tax burden. This is mainly due to the accumulation of excise duties on mobile services and mobile money, which together represent almost a third of the total tax payments (at 32 percent).”


Coronavirus: Technology now the only way out


Thursday March, 19, 2020

With most nations under full or partial lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19, it’s time to embrace technology to keep things running.

“Now is the time to turn to the digital economy for solutions that keep life moving during times like this. We are lucky to have started our digital transformation journey earlier,” says Timothy Oriedo, founder of the data firm Predictive Analytics Lab.

Meanwhile, Absa Bank Kenya’s chief data officer, Mr Hartnell Ndungi, says many sectors did not foresee the current situation, so it won’t be passible for all companies to let their employees work from home.

“It’s a challenge to provide every employee with a laptop and unlimited internet, especially for SMEs. The probable solution is to classify tasks as critical and non-critical. The latter can work remotely. Most companies will have to scale down production,” he offers.


Safaricom waives M-Pesa fees


Monday March 16, 2020

Safaricom has become the first player in the mobile money business to cut prices following a request from President Uhuru Kenyatta.

On Sunday, Mr Kenyatta asked banks and mobile money providers to consider reducing the cost of transactions to allow customers use cashless modes of payment as part of measures to stop transmission of Covid-19, widely known as new coronavirus.

Safaricom said on Monday that it would like to thank Central Bank Governor Dr Patrick Njoroge for hosting a meeting with the telecommunications industry players to discuss the evolving situation around the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The meeting follows the directive by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta to explore ways of deepening mobile money usage to reduce the risk of spreading the virus through the physical handling of cash,” the firm’s chief executive Michael Joseph said in a statement.


Revoke Safaricom airports WiFi deal, firm says in suit


Thursday March 05, 2020

An internet service provider has sued the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) for contracting Safaricom  to provide WiFi connections at airports.

Internet Solutions Limited, with a presence in African countries, has filed the suit at the High Court demanding that the Public Procurement and Administrative Review Board be ordered to revoke the tender.

It claims Safaricom was offered the deal and bid for the contract when its licence as an ICT service provider had expired.

The company has listed KAA, Safaricom as well as other firms that participated in the tender — Encapsulated limited and Simbanet Ltd — as interested parties.


Is Kenya ready for 5G Internet?


Wednesday February 02, 2020

The 3G mobile network specifications were done in early 2000 but the commercial implementations hit Kenya around 2007. The 4G specifications were completed in 2010 and the commercial deployment introduced in Kenya around 2014.

The 5G technical specification was completed last year and its commercial deployment around the world is expected this year in 2020.

Kenya is likely to be one of the early adopters of the 5G technologies – but is Kenya ready for this new technology?

And when we talk about readiness, we don’t mean in terms of deployment since mobile operators can deploy 5G overnight and switch it on the next day.

5G readiness goes beyond availing the 5G signal and looks deeper into the issue of whether the economy is harnessing the 5G capabilities.


Is Kenya tapping its vast Big Data opportunities?


Thursday February 13, 2020

The term “Big Data” today attracts huge attention, mainly because of its power to help humans make informed decisions, turning it into an industry competition tool as new waves of business development sweep across Kenya’s corporate world.

It is helping startups, SMEs, corporates, government agencies, non-profits and individuals work more efficiently through the analysis of huge chunks of both structured and unstructured data to achieve higher operational mileage and predict future market demands.

In a period of Industry 4.0 automation and business intelligence, Kenya’s quest to utilise Big Data and machine learning has never been as relevant, but huge hurdles lie ahead.

Its adoption has been slow, with a few data science solution firms in existence and only listed companies being their clients, yet it is increasingly phasing out human decision- makers from boardrooms.


Moi wasn't a darling of the Internet and ICTs


Wednesday February 12, 2020

The second President of the Republic of Kenya, Daniel arap Moi is no more. May his Soul Rest in Peace.

I received the news of his passing with some flashbacks to ICT-related events of the early to late 1990s when he was President and the ICTs in general and Internet in particular was treated with a lot of suspicion.

The early 1990s were tough times for Kenya – politically, socially and economically.

There was no Internet service available for the public in the country until around 1992/1993, when the then youthful lecturer from the University of Nairobi, Dr Shem Ochuodho introduced it through an NGO, African Regional Center for Computing (ARCC).


Is CBK warming up to crypto currency?


Wednesday January 29, 2020

While at the World Economic Forum at Davos last week, the CBK Governor Dr Patrick Njoroge sent out a flurry of tweets that caught the crypto enthusiasts in Kenya by surprise and sent them talking.

Essentially, the governor seemed to warm up to the digital currency or crypto conversation, in stark contrast to his 2015 circular to financial institutions.

In one of his tweets, the governor seemed to indicate support for digital currencies or cryptos, as long as there is a solid regulatory or a governance framework.

It is difficult to tell what governance framework he has in mind, when he has not yet outlined the role and depth the he foresees the digital currencies playing within the Kenyan economy.


Digital security is as strong as weakest link


Tuesday January 14, 2020

The World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risk Report identifies cybersecurity as one of the biggest threats facing businesses and economies today.

Cyber-attacks have exponentially grown in scale and sophistication. Just one, simple attack can lead to significant loss of data or financial fraud that impacts a company’s reputation and credit rating, shaking investor confidence and consumer trust. And it goes without saying that the cost of a breach can amount to millions of dollars, leading to catastrophic consequences.

Experts predict economic loss due to cybercrime to reach $3 trillion by 2020, and 74 percent of the world’s businesses are expected to be hacked in the coming year. Statistics have further shown that the more connected a country is, the more prone it is to cyberattacks. This means that making cybersecurity a part of the national agenda has never been more important.


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