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Nokia Research Centre Africa (NRC-Africa) research insights and milestones.

The Nokia Research Center Africa (NRC-Africa) is part of the global Nokia Research Centers which we’re founded in 1986 as part of Nokia’s corporate research unit to drive Nokia’s position as a technology thought leader. NRC-Africa was unveiled in Kenya in 2008 to carry out research. Locally, NRC–Africa has worked with universities and NGOs to carry out research meant to solve local problems, and help Nokia better understand the needs of its customers. NRC-Africa is part of seven research centers globally.

Earlier this morning, Nokia’s Jussi Impio, Mokeira Masita-Mwangi and Dorothy Ooko made a presentation on what NRC-Africa has achieved to-date. Initially, the focus for NRC-Africa was citizen journalism which was the first step in East Africa. NRC-Africa started with 5 researchers and today there are 18 researchers at NRC-Africa. NRC-Africa studies people in low income communities in sub-saharan africa. NRC-Africa aims to develop services and devices to best suit the  needs of African users. NRC-Africa Does field research in and with communities over the long term.

NRC-Africa also does concept design and prototyping with local teams from universities in Kenya – therefore, development happens locally. Field trials and further development happens in the field to ensure the solutions and applications meet the needs of the target users. NRC-Africa’s goals include a new approach to total cost of ownership (TCO) and business models. NRC-Africa focuses on services and devices which can spark and accelerate the growth of the grassroots economy and active citizenship in Africa. Ultimately, NRC-Africa looks to ensure economical and socio-cultural sustainability throughout Africa via Nokia’s offerings.

The two focus areas for NRC-Africa are largely within micro-economics for micro entrepreneurs and trade, informal banking, mobile payment, mobile banking and lowering the total cost of ownership (TCO), and,  social media for access, relevance of content, trust, control of content, medium and interactivity (creation and consumption of content). Mobiles already play a vital role in socio-economic development in Africa – but what if they we’re designed to do so from inception?

Incidentally, 90% of all jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa are in micro entrepreneurship. According to NRC-Africa, there are (potentially) lots of opportunities in (mobile) social media for micro entrepreneurs. As a result, Self help groups are a big focus for NRC-Africa especially with low income groups.  70% of the population in Sub Saharan Groups are in self-help groups. Individuals in Africa can be part of 2 or 3 self help groups at the same time which leads to social capital being shared across the groups.

NRC-Africa has a project called “Young Africa” – the average age of project participants is 18 years old and hence its heavily youth focused. Young Africa aims to understand the role of communications, ICT and mobile technology in providing tools and opportunities for youth empowerment. NRC-Africa’s first project at inception was “JAMMS” which was focused on the music industry in informal African settlements. A key driver for this project was that there are over 10 million musicians in informal African settlements.

Another NRC-Africa project is family planning where they are carrying out a study to better understand the socio-cultural factors in population growth as well as developing acceptable and effective mobile tools for family planning. An interesting aspect about NRC-Africa is that it works closely with the University of Nairobi and the University of Stanford for research work.

NRC-Africa also has a project to build sustainable businesses in the knowledge economy where they work with Infodev, the Finnish Foreign Ministry and the World Bank. This project aims to develop an African Research and Development (R&D) ecosystem through innovations centers. Looking forward, NRC-Africa is planning to roll out projects and research for solutions in anti-corruption, m-governance, citizen journalism, deforestation. Going forward, research findings from NRC-Africa will be published and shared to the general public. Here are photos from today’s event and below is a video from NRC-Africa:

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2 Comments

  1. […] Nokia Research Centre Africa (NRC-Africa) research insights and … […]

  2. sebunje william(research student at makerere university institute of staistics and applied economics)
    November 8, 2010 at 7:28 am — Reply

    its my pleasure to thank the good work NRC is doing in Africa.
    ihave read some where in your publication that NRC has 18 Researchers, is it possible to join you?
    now am in my last year at Makerere University with Bsc Population studies
    research is my dream field.
    waiting to hear from you.

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