Tech Savvy 20-Year-Old YouTube Star Gives Consumers The Advantage When Shopping for Latest Gadgets

YouTube Sensation tech reviews

A 20-year-old tech lover and YouTube sensation is giving consumers the upperhand when it comes to making decisions about their next tech purchases.

There used to be a time when consumers were forced to take every TV commercial or Internet ad at face value but YouTube is giving tech lovers the platform to really put new products to the test.

Marques Brownlee has become one of the most popular YouTube sensations by doing this.

Brownlee hasn’t even earned his cap and gown from college just yet, but he didn’t let that stop him from creating an online empire that most people will recognize as MKBHD.

Brownlee has uploaded video reviews of a variety of smartphones, including the iPhone 6 and Google Nexus 6.

While his smartphone videos are some of the most popular uploads they certainly aren’t the only things the young tech savvy YouTube star has gotten his hands on.

A quick stroll through his channel will reveal reviews for iPads, the Apple Watch, camera equipment and even the Tesla Model S, an incredibly stylish electric car that has been making quite a buzz in the automobile industry.

With such a large variety of reviews, Brownlee’s channel has garnered nearly 2 million subscribers, which makes his channel more popular than that of Kanye West, Marvel, Cover Girl and Disney Animation.

His channel only recently started picking up steam, although he launched the series of tech reviews roughly six years ago.

Now that he has mastered a particular filming style and brought an incredibly likable personality to the videos as well, his virtual empire is growing faster than ever.

“If I’m going to give someone advice on what to buy, you want a personality to back it up rather than some robot telling you X is better than Y,” he said, according to

The professional Ultimate Frisbee player said that the channel makes enough revenue from ad to “pay for itself” and “make it worth [his] time.”

In the future he hopes to continue expanding the types of products that make their way into his hands for reviews.

“Anything with an on button is fair game,” he said.

While his post-graduation plans aren’t clear just yet, the channel’s success will likely leave the young YouTube star with some rather interesting career opportunities before he even slips into his cap and gown.


Africa’s Age of Innovation Could Make Continent a Major Economic Power by 2063

Over the past few days, tech experts and global authorities have urged African countries to embrace innovation and technology in order to transform the entire continent into a global, economic powerhouse.

Thanks to a new wave of tech startups and government investments into these new businesses, experts believe Africa could be on the verge of an age of great innovation.

Companies like M-Pesa, the Kenya-based mobile-phone payment system, have already managed to boost economies in countries all across the continent.

According to, M-Pesa has already “decreased informal savings in the country by 15 percent, increased the frequency of transfers and remittances by 35 percent, and increased usage of banking services by 58 percent beyond the levels of 2006.”

M-Pesa has since expanded beyond the boundaries of Kenya and into countries like Tanzania and South Africa.

Experts say this is just the start of what can be a magnificent burst of growth for many African countries.

The next step is for the continent to continue investing in people-driven technologies and continue discussing how to properly harness the vast knowledge and impressive skill set that many African entrepreneurs possess.

“Investment in skills, technology, knowledge and innovation will ensure democratic and responsive governance that can deliver effective public services and facilitate universal access to basic services, such as food and nutrition, water and sanitation, shelter, health and education,” said African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the closing of the ninth annual African Economic Conference (AEC).

The conference lasted for three days and brought business leaders, academics and economists from all over the globe together in order to discuss how to launch Africa into the global power it has the potential to be.

Experts at the conference hope to focus on boosting youth employment and furthering the adaption of new technologies across the continent.

Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa, acting chief economist and vice president of African Development Bank, said now is the time for Africa’s brightest innovators to “stop being lazy” when it comes to innovation.

“We need to stop being lazy analysts and take our challenges for ourselves; stop wasting resources and implement our own ideas,” he said at the conference. “Africa must first understand where we are, what brought us here and then try to understand what to do differently to bring different results.”

Ban Ki-moon, the eighth and current secretary-general of the United Nations, couldn’t have agreed more with those sentiments.

“Technology can be used as a great power to change your life, to change our lives, particularly the life and future of Africa,” he said during his visit to the offices of the nonprofit technology company Ushahidi and its offshoot iHub in Nairobi, Kenya.

iHub/Ushahidi is considered a technology incubator and has already helped many young creators and developers implement new ideas in order to “promote great transformation for our society.”

He went on to say that Africa already has the “power of creativity” and now it’s up to those young innovators to use technology and creativity to change the world.

“When we use your creativity and ideas, I can bet you that the productivity and greater progress of the country will be at least 50 percent more than in the past,” he added.

iHub/Ushahidi has already been responsible for over 150 startups and garnered more than 14,000 members.

The experts who gathered at the AEC plan to continue fostering innovative solutions and working closely with governments and private sectors to boost Africa’s economic growth.

With a vast majority of Africa’s population still under the age of 20, these tech experts and academics believe investing in the younger generation will be critical to the continent’s 50-year plan to make Africa a global powerhouse by 2063.


Text First, Call 911 Later: This Could Be the New Protocol for Carjacking Victims

Shut down car with text message

It’s hard to believe but new, developing technologies could have carjacking victims reaching for their phones to send a text before they even think about calling the police.

It’s all because of a Nairobi-based car security company called Sunrise Tracking.

The company has developed new technology that allows consumers to take matters into their own hands when their car is stolen.

In addition to being able to track the vehicle’s location, consumers would also be able to shut down the vehicle and prevent thieves from getting too far.

There are many services that allow the everyday person to track their car’s location, but the ability to shut down the vehicle from a simple text message is quite revolutionary.

Currently, this type of technology is reserved for police forces and often used on bait cars.

Bait cars are vehicles planted by police in order to capture would-be car thieves before they can target everyday civilians.

Sunrise Tracking founder, 23-year-old Kelvin Macharia Kuria, explained the technology to African Start-Up.

“Once a stop command has been sent to the vehicle, the hardware understands the language of that command and immediately cuts acceleration fuel function,” he said. “The vehicle immobilizes immediately until a resume command is send to mobilize back the car.”

It’s unusual to see such a young entrepreneur coming up with such innovative technologies for security, but the young entrepreneur quickly explained why this was so important to him.

“The reason I decided to venture into the business of security is simply because immediately after high school one of my relatives was carjacked,” he told African Start-Up. “And it was unfortunate we were not able to recover the vehicle.”

Later his own office was broken into and the thieves managed to escape with tons of electronics.

At that point the push for better security technologies became even more personal.

Today, Macharia Kuria has managed to obtain more than 500 clients.

While he hopes to continue to grow his clientele, he is also very well aware of the obstacles he will face trying to grow the business in Kenya.

“Being a young entrepreneur of course is a very huge challenge in terms of financials, in terms of your starting a business,” he said. “The other challenge that we are facing currently is that not many people are willing to adopt the locally made products within Kenya … Carjacking and robbery in Kenya and particularly in Nairobi is so high, but since security is so sensitive clients opt to go for big and international companies having in mind only such companies can give them better quality service hence killing the local innovation products.”

There could be yet another obstacle he will have to face as well.

While the ability to shut down a car with nothing more than a text sounds exciting and innovative, technology experts caution that it can be abused in the long run.

“In the past, hackers have exploited security weaknesses in mobile locator devices to monitor movements and patterns of a vehicle and even impersonate it,” said Chris Brauer, the director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London. “In the short term, mobile security devices with mainstream appeal and price points will reduce carjacking and thefts. In the longer term, it all depends on whether the security providers can stay one step ahead of the hackers and thieves.”


Black Entrepreneurs Ready to Change the Face of the Tech Industry

An overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs in the tech industry are white and male. But through better education, assistance from venture capitalists and support from major companies, the industry could be on the brink of a major shakeup.

Companies like Facebook and Google recently disclosed statistics about the demographics of their workforces, which confirmed what many had already believed – the faces behind these companies are mostly white males.

Out of Facebook’s nearly 7,000 employees, 69 percent are males. Out of all of its employees in the U.S., nearly 60 percent are white.

Google’s report, which was released in January, revealed similar numbers.

Roughly 70 percent of Google’s employees are men, and more than 60 percent are white. About 2 percent are Black.

So what is causing such a drastic race and gender gap in employees at major tech companies?

According to the panelists at Technoir, it has a lot to do with education and support.

Technoir, which was held in August, is the first in a series of discussions and networking events created to examine the challenges and opportunities that Black entrepreneurs often face.

One of the main challenges the event’s panelists discussed was the importance of quality education.

Aaron Saunders, chief executive of Clearly Innovative, pointed out that youths need to be skilled in mathematics and science in order to succeed in the tech industry.

Not only that, but they need to be in an environment where they can learn about all the different careers that the tech industry has to offer.

Saunders has already co-founded a summer camp and academic program at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science in Washington, D.C., called Startup Middle School.

The program gives its young members more experience using science, math and technology to solve a variety of different problems.

According to Saunders, it was not only troubling that the students were not given many opportunities to build their math and science skills outside of his camp, but also that they had never even met anyone who worked in the technology industry.

“These are the things that make a difference,” he said. “These are the things that move the needle.”

Meanwhile, other panelists stressed that the right education will not be enough to create a more diverse space in the tech industry.

Minority tech entrepreneurs need the same support and financial backing that white males are often awarded.

“A lot of these firms, their diversity is in my opinion shameful,” said Justin Maddox, the chief executive of CrowdTrust. “It’s extremely lame in 2014 for you not to be able to reach outside your demographic and grab somebody of another gender or another race.”

Talib I. Karim, executive director of the nonprofit STEM4US!, agreed with Maddox.

“If you have a great idea and somebody believes the only people who have great ideas are white males, then how are we ever going to create an economy that outperforms those economies like China,” Karim questioned. “We have an advantage in our diversity.”

The good news for many minority entrepreneurs is that the growth of crowd funding provides some sort of financial backing when venture capitalists and other potential investors turn the other cheek.

Sites like KickStarter and Indiegogo have made it easy for emerging entrepreneurs to get the financial aid they need to launch a startup or continue the growth of their business.

With those tools in mind, Toya Powell believes it is vital that minority entrepreneurs support each other.

“Everyone in this room has the capacity to be an angel,” said Powell, the vice president of operations at the National Black Chamber of Commerce. “You could, in your own sphere of influence, invest in each other.”



Breaking Barriers: African Women in Tech Industry Continue to Defy Odds

The technology industry has long been reserved for male entrepreneurs, but an online discussion among female tech experts all across Africa sheds light on how many women have already made their presence known in the field.

Statistics show that the number of women in the technology world is low.

In June, Yahoo’s Equal Employment Opportunity statistics revealed that although nearly 40 percent of the company employees are female, only 15 percent are in tech-related positions.

Other major companies, such as Dropbox, have a little over 8 percent of their female employees involved in software engineering, according to a 2013 spreadsheet released by Pinterest software engineer Tracy Chou.

Female tech entrepreneurs, like Ethel Cofie of Ghana, are on the way to reversing these troubling statistics.

Cofie is one of the pioneering members of a “Women in Tech” group that is working to create an alliance of female tech experts all across Africa.

According to Cofie’s guest article on CNN’s website, her own online efforts marked the first time someone had attempted to “build a pan-African Women in Tech network that would allow [women] to compare [their] challenges, learn from each other and connect across borders” to increase their influence.

Cofie teamed up with four other African women, all from different countries, to organize a digital meetup earlier this month.

More than 150 women signed up to be a part of the meetup and the online movement spread like wildfire.

By the time the Aug. 2 meetup ended, the hashtag #WtechAfrica had reached nearly 75,000 people and made close to 200,000 impressions on Twitter.

The online event certainly did not go smoothly, however.

Cofie explained that technical difficulties threatened to put an end to the massive meetup, but the determination by the participants kept the discussion alive and allowed it to have more reach.

The meetup was originally supposed to take place on Google Hangout, but when poor connections and other technical difficulties made it nearly impossible for the large group of women to effectively communicate, it appeared that Cofie’s efforts were doomed.

That’s when she realized many of the participants had moved the discussion to Facebook and eventually over to Twitter.

As it turns out, problems with Internet connections and power shortages are some of the major obstacles facing tech entrepreneurs in Africa, and Cofie admitted that those challenges will make diversity in the tech realm an uphill battle.

“The problems that African women in tech face are not very different from the ones female techies in many other parts of the world also come across,” she wrote in her guest piece. “Yet, these challenges, coupled with some Africa-specific problems like power shortages and broadband inaccessibility, create an uphill task for women wanting to enter the industry and develop the high-level technical skill required in order to progress.”

With successful female tech experts like Regina Agyare of Soronko Solutions in Ghana, and Rebecca Enonchong of AppsTech in Cameroon, Cofie knows it is still very possible for women to continue thriving in this male-dominated field that she hopes won’t be quite so male-dominated in the near future.