Sandi Chimpala is a tech blogger for popular site techtrends.co.zm . Earlier this year she was awarded Digital Woman of the Year at the Zambian Woman of the Year Awards .
KAPA187: Briefly tell us about yourself.
Sandi Chimpala: I’m 25 years old, I love eyeliner, I love to write, I love to read, I love to watch random non-Box Office movies, I have no particular fashion sense, I love box braids, and I have God to thank that my weight isn’t a reflection of how much I eat!
Professionally, I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from UNZA and I have spent almost 3 years as tech blogger and analyst, as well as a lot of content curation for online platforms like social media.
KAPA187: What inspired you to start blogging/writing about technology.
Sandi Chimpala: I was called to become a part of Techtrends out of the blue by one of the founders who’d served in so many tech companies it was ridiculous he’d consider me to write for his blog. I had no idea what I was doing but then people liked the fact that the tech stories were so raw and relatable, covering questions they’d like to know that were relevant to Zambia and so I continued being a part of that sphere. There was also a lack of a worthy news source on local tech. All the ‘tech’ news you’d ever see in media were the press releases that telecoms companies sent out to journalists after treating them to a nice little breakfast at their headquarters. Did I want to be a techblogger when I grew up? No, but I love every second of it!
KAPA187: Techtrends is a news blog that focuses on technology. What is the main aim of the blog?
Sandi Chimpala: Techtrends is a news blog focusing on technology, based and focused on Zambia. What is technology? To us at Techtrends, it is the progression of ideas and the evolution of solutions.
Our mandate is to teach, educate and inform our readership. This is from the noobs to the geeks, smartphone gurus to gamers, hobbyists to field experts and tomorrows adults.
KAPA187: Would you consider Zambians as being ‘tech-savvy’?
Sandi Chimpala: We’re halfway there. I would like to call Zambia a “tech-curious” country, judging from the many questions people ask about how certain technologies work. The only limitation to being savvy about it is the high cost of devices and internet connectivity for many people, as well a lack of information sharing by device retailers on what their gadgets can really do e.g. they’ll tell you a phone has a great camera, but did they tell you about the other modes like low-lit areas, how to focus in daylight, how to take a panoramic shot, etc.? Most of the stuff we know about our devices is self-educated, through trial and error, without ever knowing the full potential of it. (Thank the Google gods!)
KAPA187: Internet penetration in Zambia is still quite low. Having high speed internet access is seen as a luxury whereas it is the norm in other countries. Do you think we will see a change in this in the near future?
Sandi Chimpala: Yes it will have to. More and more people are becoming data reliant and consuming higher amounts of it. Even mobile operators are pushing for more data consumption by charging low prices on high data bundles, but limiting validity to a day (which sucks) but that’s a step towards getting people to do more with the internet. ISPs are trying to make internet access packages that cater to both the low-income and high income and still offer unlimited connectivity. The only limitation here is most of it rides on fibre optic cable backbones which are not yet installed in every community. As for speeds, I personally would like to see consistency in it as most have it really fast one day and almost non-existent the next day. It should be even at all times, Africa or not.
KAPA187: Many Local companies and institutions are seemingly not fully utilizing the internet. In what way would you say they have fallen short?
Sandi Chimpala: I can’t renew my ID online in 2016! There seems to still be a dependence on files and books in many institutions that really could be done away with and create more space, literally, for other things. There’s options of having systems installed on PCs that could store all the information that a company needs without having to use and waste paper. If they’re scared of the system crashing, there’s cloud servers for that that they can SECURELY back up all their data to. Let’s save trees, guys!
KAPA187: In the recent past we have seen an increase in E-business; do you think we are doing enough to promote it?
Sandi Chimpala: No because payment gateways are still a problem for many e-commerce sites to integrate into their platforms. Even if they are successful at carrying out a cash on delivery system, there is still so much more that people don’t understand about shopping online for items from their phones. Having worked for one major global e-commerce site, I often came across a lot of people who’d ‘rather walk to the shop’.
KAPA187: In regards to mobile applications. We have a number of local mobile apps available .Techtrends showcases some of them on ‘Local App Friday’ .What do you think the developers need to do in order to promote the use of these apps and even make a living off them?
Sandi Chimpala: Talk about them more. Techtrends is only one outlet for such apps, but they need to push more for the installs themselves. Developers need to fully explain over and over again why and how their apps work. Right now many apps are created and abandoned so locals think Zambian apps are not worth the download. That makes it hard for new developers to even charge a minimal fee to make money off downloads. Because there is a general prejudice that our own apps are crap, to be honest. Some are great, but need much more than one blog to show just how amazing they are.
KAPA187: Are we seeing enough innovation among our tech developers or are they simply following trends?
Sandi Chimpala: A lot of the innovation is a copy and paste idea from something already existing without even considering how it fits into the Zambian scene. I’d like to see more apps that are absolutely relevant for Zambians by Zambians.
KAPA187: Social media is a powerful tool that goes beyond posting selfies .Some people are able to earn a living solely on their social media activities. Here in Zambia do you feel it is being fully utilized.
Sandi Chimpala: I agree. In many countries, brand influencers work entirely on social media, urging the masses to buy into a product or service, In Zambia, that’s still a new concept. I’ve seen and been part of a few social media campaigns that use influencers to sell a business, and pay them for using their followers as a target audience. Now you understand why celebrities are selling teeth whitening kits on Instagram right? Lol.
KAPA187: In the next 10 years do you see Zambia still being on the consumer side of technology or moving towards innovation and production?
Sandi Chimpala: Towards the latter, because problems are increasing and solutions are being sought in technology. There is no way we’ll avoid innovation. The only limitation will be how fast we can adopt it.
KAPA187: At this year’s Zambian Woman of the Year Awards you were honored as Digital Woman of the Year. How did receiving this award make you feel? And what does it mean to you?
Sandi Chimpala: To be honest I thought they were kidding me when I was called about the nomination. I thought some other woman would get it while I would be I don’t know, second runner up! It was so exciting, I made a short stuttered speech appreciating that my work didn’t go unnoticed. It means everything to me. I look at the gold statue every day and smile, because I know someone out there need me to wear my tech cape and save the ICT world that day, one blog at a time. I hope to see more girls in tech and ICT, whatever they do in it, given an audience as well for the next awards.
KAPA187: What is your word of advice to young women who want to venture into IT related careers?
Sandi Chimpala: for it! I wish I hadn’t focused on what others said about certain courses but done what I wanted to do. Nothing is for boys anymore 🙂
KAPA187: Apart from your work with Techtrends, what else are you involved in?
Sandi Chimpala: I am currently handling all social media and online content for the BBC Media Action’s projects in its Zambia office, as well as mentoring some of its partners on the use of social media effectively.
KAPA187: Any last words?
Sandi Chimpala: Can I be a cliché techie and end with a quote from Steve Jobs? Yeah? Ok.
“We are here to put a dent in the universe, otherwise why else would we be here?”
I just hope everyone is hitting hard enough to make a mark.
Follow Sandi on social media ;
Follow her work on techtrends: techtrends.co.zm