Open Collaboration for African Techies
In: Uncategorized27 Mar 2012
This weekend R&B superstar Akon performed live in Douala to the fanfare of all his Cameroonian fans. He had a couple at ActivSpaces too but they were pinned down on this month’s #subCMR workshop. We had so many volunteers we were able to split tasks between two different projects. We set to work on ActivSpaces’ latest startup — DataZone — and were able to lend a hand to the first #subCMR project again.
As a project that has already benefited from #subCMR twice, we decided to ask the founder, Otto Beseka, a few questions about TopUpDesk and #subCMR:
“For a non-techie like myself, I believe #subCMR is one of the greatest inventions of ActivSpaces.”
ActivSpaces: Tell us about your project.
Otto: TopUpDesk is a first phase of the implementation of an e-commerce system that enables online purchases in Cameroon for people without a credit or debit card. We are starting with the sale of telecommunications airtime for MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroon through the online utility http://topupdesk.com.
ActivSpaces: What challenges have you faced since conception?
Otto: Getting a good web programmer to work for the project as a co-founder. I had talks with all the great programmers in Buea, but none of them could actually give their time to working for the project, given the fact that I never had the money to pay upon delivery.
ActivSpaces: What are the latest developments?
Otto: Currently, the system is more intelligent and robust. Before, members could top up only their registered telephone number. Now, members can refill any number whether for self, family, friends or any other. One of our volunteers this weekend was the CEO of iyam.mobi. He helped us implement an SMS feature on the platform. Generally, the utility has become more user friendly.
ActivSpaces: How useful has #subCMR been for you?
Otto: For a non-techie like myself, I believe #subCMR is one of the greatest inventions of ActivSpaces. It has enabled a technology based solution to be implemented by a non-techie. Though I understand how these technologies work and make great use of them, I do not build them. #subCMR is empowering people like me with little or no programming background but have a clear understanding of what is needed to solve a unique problem to take on these challenges by the horns. I believe #subCMR is going to take us places. I love it.
ActivSpaces: What can you tell us about the volunteers?
Otto: It is hard to find so many people committed to a project with no financial interest. The volunteers are selfless and very driven to do the undone. Meeting with guys like Herve, Eloge, the ActivSpaces guys and Eric from the US Peace Corps who contribute their time, energy and intellect for this project has redefined my own definition of real contribution. These guys are awesome. I can only say thank you with hugs!
This blog is a resource for news, project updates, member profiles and community events at ActivSpaces, an open collaboration space, innovation hub and startup incubator for African techies. Based in Buea, Cameroon.