Kenya’s answer to Sillicon Valley?

15 08 2011

It seems the Kenyan government are looking to advance to the forefront of technology development in Africa and are reportedly seeking private sector investment in the construction of a multi-billion dollar ICT City Park known as Konza Technology City.

The first phase of the development project is expected to cost around US$3 billion. Permanent secretary in the Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr Bitange Ndemo said upon its completion the project is expected to be Africa’s home of computerization – the equivalent to California’s Silicon Valley, complete with a skyscraper business centre.

Konza City will be a 5000 hectare technology park, which will be located in Mochakos County in Eastern Kenya. The first phase will comprise a science park, business process outsourcing centre, international finance centre, research centre and even a tourism centre…..In phase two, it is expected that 39 000 jobs will be created nationally, with half of those direct jobs to be found within Konza Technology park….

The Tanzanian government has also announced plans to develop a similar ICT park known as Raphta City….

Albeit that I can’t stem my enthusiasm at the prospect of some true technology development originating in Africa…..I must admit: it seems that the willingness of the Kenyan government to invest time and effort into the development and advancement of technology by its people, for its people, has put the South African government’s attempts to do likewise to shame….


Google disenchanted with patenting world

8 08 2011

After my previous post regarding the proposed acquisition of Nortel patents by Google, it seems that their bid was largely unsuccessful. This has clearly left Google feeling bitter and disenchanted with the patenting world  and they are now alleging that Microsoft and Apple are only acquiring technology patents in a bid to stem the advent of the Android phone (full article here). In my view, that seems a bit rich coming from the company who had it not been unsuccessful in its attempt would have right now been using the Nortel technology patents for the exact same purpose: to stem the technology developments of its rivals…… could this be a case of the pot calling the kettle black? I certainly think so…….. 

This brings me to an interesting point: is this where the world of technology patents is moving to? Of course, the scale of magnitude of this patent war can never be rivalled in a country such as South Africa…….However it would still seem wise for technology companies to acquire as many patents of their own as they possibly can…….if consistent development and innovation is a key to the success of a technology company then Google’s position is not  a good one to be in: stunted by its competitors… (and clearly very embittered as a result of it……)

Sentech faces court challenge by eBostwana

2 08 2011

An interesting case has recently hit the courts in the dispute between Sentech (the SABC broadcast distributor) and eBostwana (eTv’s Botswanan sister channel) regarding an alleged unencrypted SABC signal spillover into Botswana.  Full article available here.

eBotswana is alleging that the unencrypted SABC channels are being watched by up to 70% of people in Botswana by means of a pirated decoder, known as a Philabao decoder. It is alleged that this is costing eBotwsana and the Botswana broadcasting and advertising industries millions in lost revenue. In particular, it seems that it is Sentech’s use of its Vivid platform which is being disputed: this being Sentech’s means of reaching about 65000 South Africans who cannot access the SABC channels through conventional means i.e. transmitters using terrestrial signals……..the articles published on the matter thus far certainly make for interesting reading………..

Post-Nortel: tech giants discover the value of patents

23 07 2011

With the sale of the Nortel patent portfolio reaching billions of dollars (see previous post) big role players in the technology industry are apparently beginning to appreciate the value that can be derived from protecting their IP… more about it here……

It is interesting to note that the previous harsh critcism voiced against the software patenting concept and the patenting system by some of the big role players in the industry may have been nothing more than a  cover-up for their own shortcomings in this area…. The value of the software patent (over conventional forms of protection copyright) is also discussed… I think the author Nathan Myhrvold is a voice of reason in a sea of oblivion with this one and the tech companies that are now scrambling to get their ideas protected are starting to listen in at the right wavelength…..

South African patent rights too easy to obtain (apparently)…….

19 07 2011

Having stumbled across a well-written  article regarding the quality of the South African patent system I must admit that I agree with some of the views of Anastassios Pouris and Anthipi Pouris. In particular, that having South African patent applications examined for novelty and inventive step before granting them will do much to improve the quality and enforceability of patents in South Africa as well as improving the view that developed countries have of the South African patenting system…

Unfortunately, I also happened upon some erroneous information in this article which reads as follows:

“But in South Africa, all searches at Cipro are “carried out by hand (if at all)…through a card-based system”.

This would not be the case any longer. There are currently two ways in which you can access information regarding South African Patent filings online.

The first is through the World Intellectual Property Organization website which enables you to (amongst other things) search for patents filed in South Africa and the second is through the website of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission or CIPC (as it is now known) (unfortunately, the help of an active account is needed for this one)….

To be fair, the above does still fall short of the level of disclosure and accessibility provided to granted patents in other countries and given that the disclosure of the invention is the “payback” the inventor gives to society in return for which he gets a monopoly right for 20 years, I can see their point….

Cellular network operators ordered to amend contracts

19 07 2011

The National Consumer Commission has ordered the four largest cellular network operators and two fixed-line providers in South Africa to implement new customer contracts which are in line with the recently implemented Consumer Protection Act.  Read more about it here.

This is a welcome change to protect the customer against the previously used fixed-term contracts which, in light of the epiphany provided by the CPA,  can only really be viewed as a form of exploitation…

Competition authorities OK Nortel patent sale and generate bidding war

15 07 2011

The competition authorities in theUS have granted approval for Nortel Networks to sell its significant IP portfolio to rival companies for an estimated $4.5 billion… Read more about it here.

Players that have shown an interest in the 6000 or so patents and applications include: Research in Motion, Apple and surprisingly Google….in so far as these patents seem to predominately relate to wireless technology Google either just acquired these patents to prevent the competition  from getting them or they are planning to use these to litigate against their rivals…..this should get interesting….