Mobile phone app development, career

MY last article touched on how to start a mobile phone repair business. The responses and inquiries were pretty astounding. What is obvious is that most people do not know how to search and look for information. In summary I outlined the need to get used phones so as to get hands on skills, without which it would be difficult if not impossible to get your hands dirty.

Secondly I touched on the need to get video tutorials, manuals, diagrams, software and schematics most of which are available online if you have time to Google and have a decent internet connection.

It was obvious from those who sent in inquiries that most people were not able to download the materials because of the high costs of data. This is a serious issue impending progressive. Some files can be sent via Whatsapp as an attachment. But still the videos are lengthy and cannot be sent using this method.

As a work around on this I suggested sending USB flash drives or DVDs to those who had no decent Internet connection or simply had no time to search and download the materials. Not surprisingly most respondents expected some free lunch not even interested in meeting the shipping costs of the materials that would benefit them.

I received messages from Binga, Chiredzi, Marondera, Johannesburg, DRC, Kariba not to mention Bulawayo. This was a great eye opener and the materials are still available for those who are serious about getting into this type of business. The App number for such requests is at the end of this article but be prepared to meet the costs of your the USB and shipping. Enough on this. This week I will revisit an area I once talked about last year. This is the development of mobile applications for phones and tablets.

If you are looking for a quick start and go business please skip this article. This is a career and this is a business where you will be guaranteed of earnings.

Training is no less than six months unless you are already a programmer. There are dozens of websites online that offer this training for free. These are self paced, do it yourself kind of training.

Last year I had a group of about 15 students that had come together in an effort to create a coding hub. A coding hub is pooling of resources like shelter, broadband connection, furniture, and some computers to help lower the barriers of entry into this industry.

Again then most of these students expected a free lunch.

In Bulawayo CBD a decent office that can accommodate 20 people at any given time costs about $300 at a minimum. That is the first and most important thing — shelter. Ideally this should be located at a place that is easy to access. Next to that is the cost of the internet.

Fibre access is available in CBD from three providers. A decent connection that would serve the purposes of learning how to code in a hub as a group would be 10Mbps at a minimum.

Anything more would be a bonus. This is very important. One needs a fast and reliable data connection to be able to practice and code online in real time.

This is about $200 per month. Add electricity, water, sundries and security you looking at costs close to $800 per month.

Mind yourself what is free are the training materials and access to programmes and not the room or the internet you are using. Once budding programmers understand this, then they will be on their way to financial freedom. I have walked this path and done it and not just read about it.

With 40 prospective students each contributing towards the items listed above the coding hub has a heartbeat. The logistic have to be worked out by yourselves when you come together. The number I have used of 40 students is an example and not a rule of thumb. You can start your own coding hub anywhere where there is high speed internet access. You can start as a group of 10 rent a place and get started. This idea of waiting for manna from heaven must end. You create conditions to create your own employment and employ others.

Gone are the days where you must bask in the sun and hope someone will employ you. Stand up and equip yourself with skills that you can use internationally.

This applies to all other industries. How many people reading this even know how easy it is to keep bees or have a mushroom farm professionally and earn a decent living.

We cannot all be selling at a flea market. Quite frankly speaking I think the flea market has made people lazy to think. I know the usual excuse — capital. It is easy to raise capital and business ideas if you come together as a group. I thought this was common sense.

One might be asking what is unique about all this. Fair question. For the “nth” time I will state what I have stated in the past. The growth and adoption of smartphones is Africa is just phenomenal. But there is no parallel growth in mobile application development.

This is an opportunity that needs to be exploited. A decade ago when I used to work at a research lab in Silicon Valley the findings that we came up with were obvious.

Mobile phones were going to be big business. I am talking as far back as 2006. This is the time when Android was born, which is now the most popular operating system. The other system is the IOS on Apple gadgets. You have more people with access to smartphones than people with computers.

Add to this the fact that mobile data coverage is increasing by day and the costs will certainly not remain high.

From 1G we now going through 4G. The G denotes the mobile data speeds. 4G being the fastest in Zimbabwe. And well there already is 6G being tested in South Korea! Add all this up you do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the role of mobile phones in five years from now.

This is just one area where demand for applications is high. We cannot continue to be a dump market where we even download and use applications designed for other regions because we are not able to come up with our own. Not everyone can be a coder but if you have a Mathematics background, determined and have time you could try this.

Our universities and colleges continue to churn out about 20 000 graduates annually on to the streets. Save for certain professions that are hands on, most of these graduates really cannot do anything once they leave college.

This is sad. We cannot blame them problems lie with the curriculum. It is my thinking that it is time for the education ministries to cut back on non technical degrees. We have enough social and political scientists. We need more people with hard core skills who can build bridges, write software and plant as an example grain. Painful truth.

Once you write a programme or application you can sell it for $1 with 100 000 sales you will be on a right footing. Not only that you can write applications for organisations and private companies like churches, sports teams, schools, and many more. Your imagination is your limit. If you can think about it then you can do it.

Next month we will re-launch OneHub, a Bulawayo coding effort to bring like minded people together and learn how to code. Mobile applications are just one example. We are targeting unemployed youths and anyone else who would like to change careers and explore other opportunities.

The plan is to start with 40 students. First come first served save for the five students from the previous initiative who had showed serious commitment. If you feel this is for you then you will either start your own hub with others or get in touch.

What I can guarantee is that doing nothing will not change your fortunes. But trying something new has a statistical probability of success.

Unless you are content and excited about part time manual “jobs” for digging trenches to lay fibre optic cables between Beitbridge and Bulawayo by some telco as reported by local daily.

We cannot be relegated to trenching jobs alone and think that we are now part of the national cake. That is a big NO.

Wake up and code. You can get a soft copy of this article and share with others by requesting for a copy via the Whatsapp number below given that most people have challenges with accessing the internet due to high data costs.

App — 077 600 2605

@robertndlovu

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