By Paul Ndiho
An innovations revolution is unfolding in Africa, and the East African nation of Kenya is taking the lead. Young people are creating new technologies and applications that are driving the country’s economic growth and turning Kenya into a tech hub
African innovation is not receiving the level of global recognition and support it truly deserves. The continent is brimming with a rising new generation of bold, creative thinking innovators and entrepreneurs, who are inventing and developing new technologies that are simplifying lifestyles and transforming societies.
“If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, the young innovator on the African continent, perhaps you should consider moving to Nairobi — that is if want to see you your dreams come true. So many small companies started minuscule right here in the capital city but have grown into multi-million dollar businesses.”
Five years ago, there was nowhere for developers to come together and grow, today, iHub is setting the pace for Africa’s tech revolution and putting Kenya on the global innovations map.
It’s early afternoon in the community space, and techies are doing their thing, hitting cyberspace, tapping away on laptops, iPads, and smartphones.
“The objective was to create a space for the local tech community to find a home. And over time, our primary goal has been to catalyse the growth of the Kenyan tech community. We have been doing that by connecting people, supporting startups and surfacing information. Over the years, we have seen a very fast-growing, and evolving startup community in Nairobi and are glad to have been and still be a part of it.”
Innovation centers in Kenya like iHub are helping to nurture technopreneurs to launch their startups and access markets.
“There is this operative and collaborative space that allows entrepreneurs to find their own and be able to grow together, and we feel that’s part of the reason it has been easy for businesses to find a home here.”
Qn: There are a lot of tech hubs in Kenya especially here in Nairobi, but iHub stands out of all these places. What make you guys unique?
“We offer an ecosystem to boot. Through our initiatives: iHub Consulting, iHub UX Lab and iHub Research and sister organisations Gearbox and m:lab East Africa, we offer startups first-hand access to a vast pool of expertise and resources. If they want to learn more about being better software engineering, they can attend the Craftsmanship Series by Consulting. If they would like design thinking walkthroughs, the UX Lab offers Tajriba among other learning opportunities. Research caters to the data scientists and research-oriented folks; Gearbox to hardware enthusiasts; and m:lab to mobile-first startups. Membership is a gateway to networks, opportunities and growth.”
Already, more than 152 companies have grown out of the iHub; many are dedicated to applying technology to Africa-specific problems. On a typical day, about 80 members stop by, allowing a corps of software engineers to team up, exchange ideas, and sometimes make business deals. As the tech giants interest in the African market grows, iHub has become the place where technology executives gather, decamp, declaim, and debrief when visiting the region. Above all, it has helped dispel the notion that Africa’s tech community is somehow lacking in ideas, talent, or ambitions.
Tech analysts say some possible IPO-startups are growing in Africa. You will see tech companies coming out of Africa with a lot of money; enough to support a public launch on a local exchange or even trade on NASDAQ.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentor-ship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho