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So the secrets out and there’s no turning back for us. My latest personal project, Afrigator, was leaked to the public yesterday morning by Rafiq and it’s been a chaotic time ever since.

It’s a project that is still in early Alpha release yet despite this we had 69 new sites sign up yesterday alone with a further 20 odd this morning and already we’ve pulled in 15 blog posts that have been written by bloggers all around Africa about this new Alpha baby.

Afrigator is our solution to a social media aggregator and directory built especially for Africa. Its leak comes only two weeks after Amatomu was launched which in comparison becomes our biggest competitor but I’ve tried to avoid, where possible, us conflicting with each other.

Mike Stopforth, my new partner in this project, has written a few great things about Afrigator so I’m going to try and give you some info that hasn’t already been published in the Afrosphere.

The history behind Afrigator is very interesting and it’s conception began with my developments with Grabble. In trying to improve my service offering for Grabble and to try and create additional value I decided I was going to create a news aggregator based largely off Google News. This development was starting to take shape quite nicely until I met Mike Stopforth.

Mike introduced me to the idea of a Technorati-style site for Africa and I was hooked almost immediately. I really wanted to be involved in a project like this and it really started to blow my hair back!

Then a few weeks back I met with Vincent Maher from the Mail and Guardian for the very first time and it was an awesome experience to say the least (yes I do attract bees but only when he’s around). We spoke about a variety of issues and he racked my brain on stats collection, database stuff and other general technical geek issues.

I wanted to ask Vincent, and I think I eluded to it in our meeting, if he thought we should create a Technorati for Africa but seeing as this was my first meeting with the man I held off on talks about this issue. Little did I know at the time that M&G were only days away from launching the first real big Technorati website in South Africa.

When I got a personal invitation to join Amatomu and I realised what M&G were up to I was gutted. I thought this was the end of the road for Mike and I but despite this happening we decided to go ahead anyway with the development and I began a two-week intensive process of re-designing the Grabble aggregator into a new Technorati-style aggregator and the result is now available for all to see.

I have been extremely worried about the perception that would be created by Mike and I launching a competing product to Amatomu and to an extent Muti. The last thing I wanted was to create an impression that we’re following or trying to compete with them directly when nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, I’m not naive to the fact that we are competition but after chatting extensively with Vincent & Matt from Amatomu as well as Neville & Erik from Muti I am truly hopeful that we can start to collaborate work together rather than work against each other.

The idea of competing products working together may seem altruistic but can you imagine how the blogosphere as a whole would benefit from collaborative work between us all? Only time will tell but the response and support we’ve received from Amatomu and Muti has been amazing and I think sets the tone for us to work closely together.

The last 24 hours has been an interesting and amazing journey and I’ll report more on developments in the weeks to come.