Android in Africa

Ultimately: It was a good idea, but I didn’t think it through. It is much better to bring a bigger and more functional laptop.

I decided to come to Kenya with my Google Nexus 10 tablet, which runs on Android. It wasn’t a terrible idea, but I have had some troubles in Africa not having a “laptop” per say. Hard drives, firstly, don’t necessarily run on Android, or tablets in general, they have to be reformatted to work. I have found that the WD Passport 1 TB will work, but it is still a working theory and I’ll update with more information later.

Then even with a working hard drive getting them to run is a new set of problems. Before you come to Africa, because the internet is much, much faster in America, make sure to upload these essential apps to make your tablet run like a laptop: Aldiko book reader, FB book reader, Kindle (if you have an account with books, otherwise you’d need Calibre and I have not found a version for Android), VLC for Android, RealPlayer, and Kingsoft Office. These apps will let you read books, watch movies, listen to music, and read/create documents (excel, PowerPoint, and word). Before coming it is also highly advisable to get a good case that has a detachable keyboard and mini USB cable that you can connect regular USB with, a splitter would be even better so you can have 2 normal sized USB ports.

The last problem I have found was being able to connect to the internet. Even with a USB the major networks Safaricom, Orange, and Airtel don’t have compatibility with Android software using the internet modems. I do not know about Airtel, however, Safaricom and Orange have portable WiFi hotspot devices that will allow you to have a working internet connection.

The Safaricom device is ksh6000 and if you get a separate sim card it is ksh100. Internet is loaded up by buying internet bundles and the best way is to purchase airtime then convert it, because you get more internet that way (ksh1000 airtime=1.5 GB/ *144*number# to top up, then *544# to buy bundles).
The Orange one is just a little bit more, but has monthly pre paid options that make getting internet a bit more convenient. Safaricom works best in mine so I didn’t buy Orange, and the device is more expensive than a regular portable internet connection so know before you buy where you will be staying.

Finding the device can be a bit tricky. It took me a month to track one down, however, they do exist so don’t let them fool you! I found mine in Kisumu in the Mega Plaza shopping center at the Safaricom branch, there is a Nakumatt Nyanza there, which is also a great place to purchase things. They also exist in the other major cities Nairobi and Mombasa if you are nowhere near Kisumu.


WiFi Hotspot device

WiFi Hotspot device


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