Kenya's tech scene is one of Africa's most advanced, with soaring phone use and cheap data spurring growth. But tech entrepreneurs say investment capital is scarce, and investors drawn to ''Africa's Silicon Savannah'' say there's s a shortage of innovation to meet needs. David Pollard reports.
We live in a push-button world. More and more that applies to how we learn, too. An app called Eneza is helping these children in Nairobi. In Swahili, the word means 'reach.' (SOUNDBITE) (English) JULIANNE OCHIENG, TEACHER AT REDROSE CHILDEREN'S CENTER, SAYING: "We normally pick on a subject, after that we pick on the challenging question then we work them on the board together with the pupils." The app helps teachers like Julianne Ochieng give many pupils - especially the poorer ones - something they might only hope for. Free, unlimited access to learning materials. All you do is dial a simple code. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNNAMED STUDENT AT RED ROSE CHILDREN'S CENTER, SAYING: "They direct you and tell you the right answer, and tell you more about the question." Like the app's users, Kenya's tech start-up scene is youthful, eager - but lacking resources. Eneza is an exception - it got funded by Kenya's biggest mobile operator, Safaricom, and others. Money they couldn't do without, says Eneza developer, Christopher Asego. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHRISTOPHER ASEGO, CO-FOUNDER AT ENEZA EDUCATION SAYING: "When you are starting a business you want it to like sort of fund itself. The initial funding that we got brought us this far. We have close to 350,000 students on the platform." Safaricom itself is proof that innovation can work. It's a pioneer of M-Pesa mobile money transfer technology, now used across Africa, Asia and Europe. And generated $300 million in the last financial year. But success is elusive for would-be entrepreneurs. Even as they brainstorm in a local tech hub, a new report says many start-ups simply don't start. Over two thirds of them not earning enough to keep a small team oging. iHub adminstrator, Mugethi Gitau. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MUGETHI GITAU, ADMINISTRATOR IHUB, SAYING: 'First of all maybe identifying the right gap into the market and creating the right solution to address that gap, to getting the necessary support sometimes." A lack of investment and the right ideas to monetise may be the two big problems. But investors should look through them, says Mugethi. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MUGETHI GITAU, ADMINISTRATOR IHUB, SAYING: ''Invest your money, invest your mentorship, and I would like to encourage young people to keep innovating." After all, say its fans, with mobile phone use at nearly 80 percent in Kenya, cheap data and soaring smartphone uptake, Kenya has all the right buttons to push.