Of Conferences

Tuesday found me at Sarit Center’s Exhibition hall at the Safaricom launch of Mobile Office, a GPRS wireless internet solution, as well as showcasing some ICT solutions from partners that are running using Safaricom’s network infrastructure.

Nothing out of the ordinary. I generally don’t mind attending these. I get to eat food not served by people in ridiculous plastic aprons and hats, get to meet new people, get a couple of new contacts, find out what other companies are up to and generally keep a finger on the pulse of industry in Kenya.

The difference was that while I generally attend these in a purely technical capacity, accompanied by a couple of salesmen, this one I attended wearing both hats. Now from the very beginning I was extremely reluctant to come in the sales capacity. People who do sales have got to be the most patient people in the world. I am not one of these.

But it was an interesting challenge, and I generally take these with both hands. And as with most things, I made some interesting observations
– Safaricom clearly has an enormous budget to spend on these shindigs. Hilton were doing the catering, and waiters made sure no guests were standing without glasses in their hands
– However they did a remarkably poor job at promoting the launch. At its peak the attendance was just about 30%
– African time is solidly and deeply entrenched in this country. Things were supposed to kick off at 9:30 but at 10:30 my lads were still twiddling our thumbs as I tried to find out who was in charge and whether they planned to get started while still under the NARC regime
– Many people, and not just foreigners, still consider this country a technological backwater. My colgate smile as I repeatedly fielded the same irritating questions was complimented later by those who know me well
– What? There is GPRS in Kenya?! No way!
– You mean to tell me this software is locally developed?
– There are actually local solutions providers in Kenya
– Did you develop that product yourself?
– Do you have overseas partners for development of these products?
– I can actually do sales if I had to
– Kenyans have an uncanny habit of identifying events offering free food and freely availing themselves of the same. Some rough statistics of people plotted againt waiters and time are shown below: (Squint really hard)

Oh, and lunch was served between 12:30 and 2:30.

PIC OF THE DAY

Sudanese First Vice President John Garang assures Former President Daniel Moi that his shirt is not on fire, as Moi tries to focus his eyes to find the hidden 3D images

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOG
Been a while since I went trawling but here we go!

P.M. Dawn – Set Adrift On Memory Bliss