The Kenya Forum | UK teenager sells app for millions, Kenya's development scene promising - The Kenya Forum

April 8, 2013


UK teenager just became one the world’s newest millionaires by selling Summly to Yahoo. Kenya’s app development scene promising in own right.

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UK teenager sells app for millions, Kenya’s development scene promising

UK teenager sells app for millions, Kenya’s development scene promising

What would you do with Ksh. 2.6billion? Drop out of school? Go for an early retirement? Buy that dream home and car? Travel all over the world? Invest in your passion? Whatever you answer may be, they are the questions Nick D’Aloisio a 17yr old boy from England might be asking himself.

The young boy genius hit the headlines after netting nearly £20 million for his iPhone App, Summly. The App which summarizes news stories, was downloaded by nearly a million people. This caught the attention of internet giants Yahoo who bought the app, making Nick one of the newest multimillionaires in the world. The news summarization application shortens longer web articles into three concise paragraphs, making them easier to read on the screen of a smartphone.


Kenya is seeing a rapid rise of mobile phone apps built by local designers and is known as Africa’s powerhouse where apps are concerned. This has led to giant technology firms like Samsung and Nokia, setting up base here so as to tap into the massive talent in the country.

Many Kenyan app developers have won various continental awards and some have even hit the international headlines for their unique apps.

In a recent continental competition dubbed Vodafone Appstar challenge, two Kenyan representatives Gerald Kibugi with his Tough Jungle game app and Gilbert Rono with his educational app, beat all other contestants to the first and second positions respectively. In 2010, Kenya’s iCow won the best African mobile App in a competition organized by Apps 4 Africa which is sponsored by US State Department.

Most of the Kenyan app developers focus more on local than global concerns. “In Kenya, everybody is building apps for Kenya,” says Eric Hersman, the US founder of the iHub (a “tech-incubators” designed to give young IT entrepreneurs the space – and sometimes a bit of cash – to develop their ideas). “They look around themselves and say, ‘Well what do most people do?’… 70% of the population is based on agricultural-related businesses. They focus more on solving Kenya’s own problems.

Ever since M-Pesa was launched and became phenomenally successful, Kenya has seen a rise of mobile developers, most of them being young adults. According to a report by the IMF published in October 2011, M-Pesa “processes more transactions domestically within Kenya than Western Union does globally and provides mobile banking facilities to more than 70% of the country’s adult population.”

The future, with little doubt, looks bright for Kenya where technology is concerned and hopefully mobile app developers will start earning big from their work.


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