The Developing Web

Below is an idea I posted to the development-ideas website Africa Rural Connect, hosted as part of the Peace Corps Connect program.  If anyone wants to run with it, feel free!  I don’t currently have the time, but would also never want to hinder the development of an idea which I think could help a number of people.  The idea as written here is slightly modified.

The link to the original idea page is here: http://arc.peacecorpsconnect.org/view/960

For the past 10 months that I have lived in Kenya, working in ICT, consulting with individuals and their ICT needs, I have noticed an increasing trend towards the web, something which should be expected and of which this site itself is a product (referring to Africa Rural Connect: http://arc.peacecorpsconnect.org).  However there is still a distinct lack of NGO’s and CBO’s who might benefit from a web presence making proper connections with those who could enable them to have the presence in the first place.

What I propose is a web portal along the lines of Lending Tree (“When banks compete, you win!”).  Freelance Kenyan web designers and studios, of which there are many, would be able to use this portal to pick up contracts, but with a catch.  The portal itself would moderate the pricing and agreement structures to be much more CBO and NGO friendly.  It would also work to simplify the whole process of creating a web presence, such as domain registration, hosting space, etc.

On the other hand, the freelancers and studios would have to agree to accept the lower fees, and agreements would also have to be negotiated with hosting providers to provide less expensive services.  Consider it a corporate-social-responsibility angle to the web development world.

Finally, the portal would also have a preconstructed pack of open source software designed to ease development of e-commerce sites and donation sites.  Both of these can be tricky to implement, especially for new developers, so providing a known and trusted solution available to all contacts on the portal would increase the website’s potential revenue generating abilities.

Admittedly, there is room for expansion in this idea, as with any idea.  Things that come to mind immediately are a sliding pay scale, where let’s say a handicrafts site starts selling really well and making a profit, then the hosting provider might be allowed to slightly increase the rates to compensate for increased traffic.

The desired effects of this idea are many.  First off, I would like to create a single-solution place for fledgling Kenyan web developers to go to sharpen their skills on smaller-scale projects where there will still be some compensation.  Second, NGO’s and CBO’s will finally have a trusted organization easing them into the new and confusing frontier of the world wide web.  Third, a more “development friendly,” pricing system will get more ideas on the web, and if combined with the trusted donations and e-commerce software solutions, potentially become a true income generating activing for a group.

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2 responses to “The Developing Web

  1. Data from BBC supports this.
    See posts from @mato74 http://twitter.com/mato74

    Atfter Nigeria, Kenya is the largest user of BBC’s mobile sport webpage WORLDWIDE! #mwa09

    ‘Kenya in the top 5 country using Google Search on mobile phones. Nigeria has highest rate’

  2. I’m an RPCV who stuck around in Benin after my service. My partner and I started a web development firm in order to solve some of the problems you mention here. I like the idea, but I think you’ve got a few kinks to work out. 🙂

    I’m uncomfortable with any mechanism that deliberately under-prices market rates. Developers and designers already have a hard enough time convincing clients of their value. That said, if you could limit clients to legally registered non-profits, it’s not a bad compromise.

    How will you deal with quality control?

    Check out Kabissa (@kabissa on Twitter). They’re not doing exactly the same thing, but were handling hosting, domain registration, etc. at one point.

    Hosting is actually the easiest problem to solve. Pay for a reseller account in the States, then resell hosting in small chunks.

    Anyway, I’m trying to solve a similar problem regarding freelancers who lack experience in Benin. Shoot me a email if you decide to actually build this.