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Tech

How Covid-19 will Reshape Technology and Innovations in the Future

It is hard to imagine how the world would have coped with the Covid-19 pandemic if science and technology had not come to the rescue.

From the onset of the pandemic, different technologies and innovative solutions have been deployed to help people navigate through life and work. Monitoring social distancing and isolation, managing testing and vaccinations, facilitating remote work, keeping people connected, and keeping children in school, are some of the areas where technology has come to the rescue. The impact of this will continue to be felt even in the post-pandemic world.

We look at how the pandemic has shaped technology and innovations and how this will look like in the future.

Homegrown Technologies

The global ventilator shortage meant that even those who had resources could not access the crucial equipment that was needed to treat Covid-19 patients. This extended to other equipment for medical care both at the hospitals and home-based care use.

The result of this was that people started making their own ventilators and other tools that were necessary. Cloth manufacturers like KICOTEC in Kenya quickly switched to manufacturing masks and other PPEs. University students designed ventilators to help cope with the shortage. Some local artisans started to make hospital beds. There were numerous cases of innovative hand washing stations popping out in different places.

In the ICT sector, different solutions made it possible to social distance, track people in self-isolation, manage vaccine rollout, or even help people shop remotely.

This spike in innovation is something that will continue even in the future. The Covid-19 pandemic gave rise to entrepreneurs and innovators who found a market for their novel inventions. The wave of this new breed of innovators will continue to be felt even in the future.

Accelerated Adoption

Many people find it hard to believe that Zoom existed before the pandemic. The option to work remotely was not available in many organizations. Running whole conferences virtually was a rare thing. Paying for groceries using mobile money was not a very common thing.

During the pandemic, so much has changed within a short period of time. Technologies that were largely ignored became a lifeline. People learnt that they can work remotely and deliver just like in-person jobs. The need to travel around the world to attend a conference that can be attended virtually is no longer there.

This changing world is making it easy for people to adopt new technologies and creating a market for the same. Remote collaboration tools now have a wider market, and more people are investing in them. The access control system that also take temperature measurements are now in use, and more manufacturers are focusing on them. The preference for cashless payment systems is giving a lifeline to Fintechs that are innovating in this area.

The pandemic will continue to be a catalyst for increased technology use and innovations.

Resilience in Design

Perhaps, one technology that was designed to scale and grow with demand is the internet itself. During the pandemic, we saw internet traffic increase significantly, but the systems that make it work were able to cope with the huge demand.

Behind the screens, internet pathways allow a great amount of information to be transferred and even accommodate the spike in traffic. There are redundant paths for internet traffic. There are cache servers that bring content closer to people who are accessing it. Net neutrality means that all traffic is treated equally, giving every resource that is in high demand unthrottled access. This characteristic of the internet made it possible for people to be online without needing to scale up equipment such as routers, optical fibers and other internet gateways.

The pandemic experience showed the need for systems that can scale quickly and this is going to be a standard good practice in the future. For any technology to be future-proof, it needs to be built in a way that it can handle any black swan like the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid has made this obvious.

Fostering Inclusivity

The problem of digital divide was hugely felt when learning was taken online. Many platforms could be used to keep children learning while schools were closed, but serious bottlenecks arose. Connectivity became a problem in many places. In other places, gadgets were not available. In most cases, there was limited or no internet connectivity.

This problem has found a solution in the way new technologies are helping overcome these problems. We now have solutions that are not dependent on full-time internet connection and that can work in places without access to mains electricity. Innovators have also come up with learning tools that can work in feature phones, thus allowing students from resource-constrained environments to keep learning.

The pandemic highlighted the need to have technologies that can cater to a diverse group of people who have different needs and resources. At the same time, the need to bridge the digital divide has seen more resources being allocated to undeserved communities, and we will see more innovations in this area.

Post-Pandemic

In the post-pandemic world, we expect to see the world moving at a faster pace in terms of technology and innovation. We have already seen barriers being broken and what would be considered bleeding technologies being normalized. A world that has been exposed to new technologies will see more tech solutions at all levels, and from different innovators. The world will also need to be ready for the next pandemic and here again, technology takes a leading role.

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How Much can you Make from a Website in Kenya?

You’ve probably heard about this person who runs a website and is making thousands of shillings every day by placing ads on their website. The next thought that comes to mind is that you can also do the same and earn some extra income. It is supposed to be passive income which you will make even when you are sleeping.

How true is this, and how easy is it for someone to make money from a blog? How much money can one expect to make?

We take a look at this question which many people have considered, and others have tried with mixed level of success (or failure).

Online Advertising

Online advertising has provided website owners and creatives with an opportunity to make money using their online content. Advertisers pay ad platforms such as AdSense to place their ads on various websites or apps, and these ad platforms share the revenue with the owners of the websites. The unique thing about this arrangement is that advertisers are often charged only when someone clicks on the ad. This means that if an ad is shown and it is not clicked, the advertiser will not pay anything (in most cases).

This advertising strategy is attractive because ideally, the advertiser is assured of value. On the other hand, the ad platforms try to march the ads with the audience that is most likely to click the ads. These ads are dynamically inserted into a website when one accesses the website, and the ads differ from one person to another. The ads you see on this website is not what someone else sees.

By allowing ads to be placed on their websites, websites owners can make some money.

How Much can you expect to Earn?

The amount of money that one can earn through ads is dependent on a number of factors. These include the number of views, the ad density – which is the number of ads showing on the page, the type of content, and even the source of the traffic.

The more the views that a website has, the more one is likely to earn because it means that there are more people who are likely to click an ad. Success here requires one to have a website that has a high traffic.

The number of ads displayed per page will also be another factor. Website owners usually decide how many ads appear on a page, and the higher the number of ads, the more the earnings. This is because there are higher chances of ads being clicked. However, too many ads negatively impact the user experience.

The source of your traffic also matters, and the earnings per click vary from one country to another. A website with visitors from the US will earn more per click than one with visitors from Kenya. This is because advertisers in those country pay more for the ads, hence more payment per click.

The quality of traffic also matters. If you have some niche traffic, like the legal profession, you are likely to get higher returns as opposed to websites with a general audience. This is because an advertiser targeting lawyers is likely to pay more than one targeting the general population.

How Much are People Making in Kenya?

How much money do website owners make in Kenya?

Based on the factors discussed above, it is extremely hard to tell a general figure for everybody. The amounts vary. However, from experience, I can share a few figures that I have seen people making from three different websites.

Type of WebsiteEarnings (KShs) per 1000 page views
News website300
Entertainment website115
Topical blog380

Based on above figures, one needs to have quite a huge traffic to make meaningful money from online ads. Even on YouTube channels, 1000 views will give you something in the neighborhood of KShs 75. A more realistic conclusion is that ad supported website is not a viable business in Kenya, for the amount of input required is too high, compared to the returns. (I wish people with websites and YouTube channels can share what they earn to give a better picture).

How then can one make meaningful amount of money from a website? How do the existing ones survive?

In my opinion, one needs to have a greater objective than just making money from ads. This way, a website can be sustainable since money from the ads will be a minor motivation for having the website.

A good source of income from website is the promoted posts, where website owners publish marketing content on a website at a fee. Popular websites charge anything from KShs 15,000 per single article, with niche website earning more to publish content that is industry related.

If you have some good traffic, this could be a good starting point.

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Impact of Covid-19 on the Emerging Technology Development

One of the positive outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic is the accelerated the uptake of new technologies that would have taken longer to be adopted. For both corporations and individuals, the technological leap has been remarkable.

Virtual meetings have been normalized and there has been an increase in uptake of cashless transactions. Remote working and cloud solutions are now common words. For corporates, the leap has been huge. Reports show that corporates have accelerated the digitization of their internal operations by up to three or four years. In creating digitally enhanced offerings, some companies have made leaps of up to ten years. It is like the world has made a ten-year leap in the form of technology adoption. All this is thanks to the pandemic.

Tech Adoption Fueling Development

How did the increased uptake of different technologies during the pandemic impact the development of the same?

Usually, user adoption is one of the factors that dictate the speed of development of new technologies. One classic example is the cloud meeting service provider Zoom which existed before the pandemic. Zoom was a little-known company before the pandemic struck. Once Covid-19 hit, social distancing measures and limits on physical gatherings meant that people could not meet as often as was necessary. Zoom had its big moment when it emerged as the market leader in cloud meetings.

But that was just a start. The Zoom that was before the pandemic is not the Zoom that we have today. It has undergone a lot of changes to suit mass usage. It is now more secure to use. Zoom can allow conferences to run smoothly. It has mechanisms for registration and to prevent meeting gate crashing (Zoombombing). Other meeting cloud meeting providers such as Meet, Skype, Teams and others have also undergone intensive development to make them easier to use. All this has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 and Emerging Technologies

The rapid development of new technologies triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic is not limited to cloud meeting solutions. Individuals and corporates have been looking for solutions in the areas of education, healthcare, production, business, productivity, research and development, among others.

This has led to rapid use of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, and Big Data. Today, we see the Big Tech rushing into the world of virtual reality and increasingly talking about the metaverse. This is in anticipation that the world will need to embrace virtual reality even more, with Covid-19 having acted as a dry run.

The supply of goods and services was also widely disrupted by Covid-19, with both manufacturing and supply chain systems taking a direct hit. Consequently, more firms are embracing increased automation to guard against such disruptive events. Labor shortage is being mitigated by the use of cobots and this has opened an opportunity for the growth of the automation industry.

Robotics has also found useful applications and accelerated development. A case example is Boston Dynamics creating robots that helped reduce exposure of frontline health workers to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Another technology that has received a shot in the arm from Covid-19 is the 5G technology. As people moved to work from home and cloud meetings became more necessary, robust communication networks were necessary to ensure that people remained connected. One such technology is the 5G network, which allows for better internet speeds and more devices to be connected to the internet. The period after the pandemic marked a huge growth in the adoption of 5G technologies.

There are many other cases of technology application driven by Covid-19. Online civic education has accelerated. Online entertainment services such as Netflix had tremendous growth. Ecommerce and food delivery services peaked. Chatbots have been used to provide Covid-19 related information, as well as for mental health support. Hospitals started using robots to minimize human contact. 3D printing helped to quickly produce components for ventilators. Drones have found a place in delivery services. The list is long.

Kenyan Context

Locally, EdTech startups are experiencing momentous growth. Parents and schools are finding it necessary to employ AI-based learning platforms that can provide an individualized learning plan for their children. AI-based learning platform M-Shule has experienced remarkable growth. In areas where skills and resources have not enabled remote learning, people are working on simple solutions that can work on basic phones and do not consume a lot of resources. A case example is the growth of the M-Lugha app which is helping students in Northern Kenya to continue learning even when schools are closed.

In the health sector, startups like AfyaRekod employ AI and various blockchain modules to help health facilities work around health data. Covid-19 pandemic made their services even more necessary as people adopted e-health, something that was picking up sluggishly before the pandemic. As this happens, more health startups are focusing on the same.

Conclusion

The impact of all these is people are exposed to new technologies, and developers start to focus on these people since they have increased capacity to use different technologies. The other direct impact is that prompted by the pandemic, there are more venture capitalists committed to investing in the same areas. This further fuels the adoption of several of these emerging technologies locally and globally.

It is not easy to precisely quantify the extent to which Covid-19 has impacted the development and adoption of many of these emerging technologies, but there is a clear indication that it has increased both adoption and development. Technologically, the pandemic has helped the world leapfrog several years ahead.

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Social Media: The Fellowship of the Vile

Posted on 3 min read

While peace of mind is desired by most people, it can be elusive if you are constantly using social media. This is also the case if you follow the mainstream media, where negative news dominates the timelines.

I stopped actively following the news for this reason, because I do not find any benefit when my evening starts or ends with the information that a young man butchered his brother in a remote part of Kenya, followed by the information that a child died because a certain clinic in another remote part of Kenya lacked syringes. I know such things happen everyday but having to know about them every evening is not good for my peace of mind.

But I still use social media, and its effects seem to be worse.

Demons of Social Media

Social media has exposed some very dark sides of people. As soon as you log in, decency logs out, and you are exposed to some of the worst of human beings.

You are fat. You are short. You have a big forehead. I wish you were aborted. Stop using your head only as a cover for the neck…

Those are mean words to use in life, but not on social media. These are some of the posts that get likes and shares. People have pledged allegiance to violence and hate. They attack one another. They say mean things. They post profanity and insults. They insult innocent strangers and demean people they have no idea what they are going through.

They shame the poor, and the next moment, they promote mental health forums. It’s a paradox but who cares? That is social media.

Social Media exposes the lowest of the low.

Bloodthirsty

It is not just the demons of social media that traumatize me. It is the many applauders who seem to enjoy the violence.

There are people who are there only there to fan violence, then sit back to enjoy the wildfire. Those spewing venom end up with likes and followers. Because they cannot see and relate to the human beings behind the username, they find it easy to insult and attack.   

They join the hate wagons even when they do not know what is happening. If an influencer insults you on social media, their bloodthirsty followers will follow through and bring it to your inbox.

Intelligent and Arrogant

We also have intelligent people who seem to have everything but empathy. Armed with wits, superior knowledge and cosmic pride, they demean and shame. When they see foolishness, they go ahead to highlight it in order to clear every doubt that the person is a fool. They show little grace or empathy. They thrive by demeaning.

Making Social Media a Positive Experience

There are the good sides of social media, but it does not come automatically. One must use it objectively, but I am yet to figure out what counts as objective.

I can block, I can choose who to follow, I can log in only when necessary, and I can mute some topics, but it is hard when some of the work you do depend on social media. The worst part is when you start acting like the people you dislike on social media.

I can relate this with what happens in real life. You can choose a good neighborhood where you are isolated from muggers, thieves, noisy people or just the people you do not like, but you cannot completely cut off the world. It is impossible.

Some part calls for one to flee, another one calls for one to have a thick skin.

It is not easy.

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Web Development Course for Form Four Leavers

Posted on 2 min read

Fifteen years ago, creating a website was a preserve for a few techies who played with some code like a magician. This has largely changed.

Today, anybody with some level of commitment, focus and some will can create a website. The enabling factor is that most websites today do not need any coding at all, but ability to understand the platforms in which they are built. Thus, any willing person can create a website or a blog such as this one, with ease.

Aslan Academy is offering a course that gives form leavers web development skills.

Why Learn Web Design/Development

The ability to create websites and publish web content is a useful digital hack today. I have found myself doing this for my businesses, for other people, to communicate important information, or even for fun. I have launched and ran a business online, just because I could. I still design website today as a side hustle, and a simple website that takes me a few hours to put together can easily earn me KShs 10,000. I have friends who are always asking me to design their websites.

This course from Aslan is especially suited for high school graduates who want to explore the world of web design. It will give you enough knowledge to make a website such as this one, and give you a base from where you can venture into more advanced web design and development skills.

The course does not promise to make you a wizard in web development. Like any good skill, it takes time and practice to become an expert. But how can you become an expert when you do not know where to start? This course will give you the basics information and proper hands-on skills to build a website using WordPress and other popular website builders.

Course Details

Objective

Equip learners to create a website or blog (such as this one) without necessarily learning to code.

Requirements

  • Computer
  • Internet connection
  • Basic Computer literacy

Course Duration

One Week

Cost

This course being offered at a discounted cost of KShs 4,999 for form four leavers.

Dates

Varied dates every month. Check the Course Page.

Mode of Delivery

Online

Registration

You can sign up for the course HERE.

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