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Abdu Sekalala: the young Ugandan creating apps for Nokia

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013 by Raluca Besliu

At the age of 23, Abdu Sekalala, a young Ugandan student at the School of Computing and Information Technology, Makerere University, already boasts a portfolio of nine internationally-rated mobile phone applications, which have earned him a fortune and made him a billionaire in his country.

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In 2011, Abdu had the opportunity to be trained by Nokia to improve his skills in creating market-relevant applications for the Mobile giant’s Ovi store. After finishing the course and developing his own applications, Nokia allowed him to put them up on their Ovi store, from where people could choose to download them.

The young entrepreneur explains that his decision to display his applications through Nokia’s stems from the fact that “Nokia is still the most sought out phone in the entire world. Out of every ten people seven have a Nokia phone. So we have over a billion people out there in the world with a Nokia phone and all those are potential clients for my applications.”

To date, the young entrepreneur’s most successful application is Wordbook, a dictionary app with an incorporated “word of the day” capability that provides definitions, examples and synonyms.  The app makes him roughly $1.25 per download from Nokia’s Ovi store and has been downloaded over 300,000 times, earning Abdu over $375,000.

While the Wordbook is a paid app, most of Abdu’s other applications are free. He explains that he prefers his applications to be free, because this way they generate more traffic from both themselves and his other applications and he can, therefore, make more money from all of them. At any rate, the “free apps actually fetch much more money because I allow companies to attach adverts to them so I share that revenue from advertising.”

 

In fact, Abdu considers his greatest achievement to be a free app called ‘Uganda Theme’.  He proudly recalls: “In the first week of its launch it became number three in the the most downloaded things in the world, that is when I felt like this is my number one of everything that I developed, this is it, this is what is going to make my mark.” Some of his other applications include the 101 Romantic SMS generates poems and love messages that users can send out via SMS and the Tutu Translate.

The young entrepreneur has not invested any money into creating his apps, but instead he puts in a lot of time, energy and concentration.  Sharing his strategy for success, the young entrepreneur emphasizes that dedication and time investment is what ensures the success of an initiative.  Abdu considers that what makes him stand out from other app developers and ensures the success of his products is the fact that “each and everyone who downloads my apps can interact with me directly on email and I will fix any bugs which may have come up during usage.”

Apart from creating apps, Abdu also owns two companies that specialize in mobile and website development. Abdu is ambitious about his future plans, as he reveals that intends to make “at least a hundred million dollars before I am thirty.” When advising other young people to become entrepreneurs, Abdu emphasizes that nothing is impossible once you are determined to achieve your goals and encouraged young people to take advantage of all opportunities while still in school.

 

 

 

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