By Paul Ndiho
July 12, 2012
Mobile phones are revolutionizing the way people communicate. They are also giving entrepreneurs an opportunity to create applications for the technology just like the big software companies.
Twenty two-year-old Abdu Sekalala is a college student in Uganda and also a successful businessman. He creates mobile applications that compete with some of the biggest names in mobile software.
So far the young entrepreneur has developed nine internationally recognized applications including Wordbook — a dictionary app with a “word of the day” function that includes definitions and synonyms.
Sekalala earns just over one US dollar for each download from Nokia’s Ovi store and his applications have been downloaded over 300,000 times so far.
“I have about four themes and five applications or the other way around five applications, four themes. Now the themes are basically to customize the UL of your phone, the way your phone appears, the screens, the transitions, the colors and the apps. We have Wordbook, which is a dictionary, and the Tutu Translate which is basically a translator and then there is World Sports which is a sports application for soccer fans.”
Sekalala caught his big break when mobile phone company Nokia held a training session in Uganda last year to help software developers expand their skills in building applications.
He quickly learned how to develop his own application and Nokia was willing to adapt it for their online applications store.
Nokia plan an aggressive growth strategy focusing on outing their productions in the hands of millions of new customers. This gives developers like Sekalala a wider market at a time when the demand for applications to access the internet is at an all-time high.
Nokia’s Agatha Gikunda says developers like Sekalala have a unique opportunity to access an international market and make money.
“So one of the ways that they can actually make money is they put it on the store for free so that consumers around the world can download it for free but they make money through advertisements, so one of the apps that Abdu created, that’s what he incorporated so he put in advertising. So advertisers around the world pop up their ads within that application so he makes money from that and that money is entirely his.”
Africa has the world’s fastest growing telecom markets and analysts say internet based mobile solutions are helping boost development and growth on the continent.
Gikunda said there is great potential for mobile app businesses in Africa because companies are looking for new ideas to engage consumers.
“So Africa is definitely the next frontier, developers here have a huge opportunity that they have never ever had before to create businesses that require very little startup capital.
Sekalala and other African entrepreneurs see great opportunities in mobile technology and look forward to continued growth in the future. He makes over 100 US dollars a day from his apps. He says he will not be looking for job soon but instead he will continue developing applications.