You Don’t Need Developers to Solve Africa’s Problems – Bob Collymore

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore

When E-commerce giant Jumia went public a couple of days ago on the New York Stock Exchange, ignorant souls went ahead to christen it as the first major “African” Startup to list on the NYSE oblivious that the Jumia has its headquarters in Germany and Dubai, top management hails from France and that the company hires from Portugal.

In an interview with CNBC on why Jumia, won’t hire or operate from Africa, Jumia CEO had the nerve to say, ” the reality is in Africa there’s not enough development and developers,” a statement that sparked bitterness and resentment towards the company for belittling a continent that has been the stepping stone for its success.

Reacting to the matter in a conversation with Citizen TV’s Jeff Koinange in his show JKL, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore challenged Jumia CEO with the birth of M-Pesa one of the most successful products in its portfolio with over 30 million customers that were not conceived by a developer.

“Developers don’t create all the solutions. If you look at Mpesa, it was not about developers doing stuff,  it was about people using simple cheap phones. Safaricom has Shupavu 291, which is a pure education thing its not an app. There is no app for everything. Shupavu 291 gives children revision aids just via Sms, but I don’t find a shortage of developers in my industry,” he said.

Reiterating on Bob Collymore sentiments, Kenya Commercial Bank CEO Joshua Oigara hit home when he pointed out that Kenya has intelligence and capacity matching that of Silicon Valley giants.

“To be specific a lot of analytics which is happening globally whether it is in packaging, a lot of its data mining is being done in the heart of Nairobi. Look at the people who do algorithms for our lending KCB mobile Mpesa, they are all Kenyans based here. The skill exists, it’s just that we don’t speak about it. In terms of capability and intellect, they are at the same level as the ones you will find in Silicon Valley today or in China and  Singapore there is no doubt,” he said.

Bob Collymore noted that the corporate world is facing the challenge of connecting the haves and the have nots and that corruption is taking a toll on the private sector ripping off opportunities from the youths.

Despite them being the creators of jobs, paying taxes more than anyone, the private sector does not behave like one because they are timid and scared, hence the need to find a collection of like-minded people to stand up and speak up on their behalf.

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Inzillia is an avid reader and researcher on matters finance, business, government affairs, culture, and human interest stories. Poetry too. Email: