Kenya: Nairobi becomes East Africa's tech heartbeat

Kenya, and specifically Nairobi, has in recent months become the technology heartbeat of Africa with conferences, launches, meet ups, summits and unconferences all running in quick succession.

The iHub LogoThe beginning of the year saw the announcement of a new technology hub for all techies, hackers, investors and tech companies. The announcement was made by Erik Hersman (Hash) who runs the blog Whiteafrican, which focuses a lot more on technological advancements in IT though he terms it as a white African's view of the world.

This is what brought about the idea of the iHub,
A number of us in the Nairobi tech community have been discussing the need for a physical nexus for the tech community here for a couple years, so it’s great to finally be so close to uncorking the bottles and celebrating a big step forward for all of us.

That announcement was made on January 25th via his post, iHub: Nairobi’s Tech Innovation Hub is Here!

February 3rd marked day one of the Mobile East Africa Conference (MWEA10) held at the KICC in Nairobi. The 2 day event was aimed at harnessing the potential of the internet and applications on mobile devices. It was attended by various mobile developers,mobile company CEOs as well as other stakeholders in mobile telephony.

Bankelele one of the bloggers who was in attendance gave this detailed recap of the 2 days here .

Kahenya Kamunyu had this to say about the event

“The best conference I’ve attended so far. Very well organised.”
Kahenya Kamunyru, CEO, ViRN Instruments

Hash did a stream post of the conference while attending.

Wilfred Mworia of Afrinnovator blog also attended the conference and was one of the speakers

“Very enlightening”
Will Mworia, Founder, African Pixel & Afrinnovator

Kachwanya also covered the the conference in his Ten Conclusions blog post.

The iHub – Nairobi's technology hub – was launched on 3rd March bringing together over 200 tech lovers from Nairobi.Ndesanjo has given a review of the even with views from the various bloggers who attended.

Tandaa an initiative by the Kenya ICT Board with the sponsorship of Google Kenya office held a one day symposium on 8th March, the first in a bid to spur the interest in generation of local digital content.

ICANN ICANN, the body that governs the assignment of domain names is currently in Nairobi for a 6 day annual meeting – ICANN no.37.

The meetings which started on 8th will end on the 12th March. The choice of Nairobi over other African cities has largely been due to the high speed internet fiber links that are now available to Kenyans. This is a factor that many other IT event organizers have considered in their choice of venue.

However, the presence of too many heads of state has caused concern with the organising committee with the fear that it was causing major disruptions to the community members

Rebecca Wanjiku a technology journalist and blogger based in Kenya atended the annual ICANN meeting. Her posts on the 2 days can be read here and here

White African and Mworia have also written posts on this ongoing event.

Just 2 days after the ICANN 37 meeting is the AfriCamp - a forum that allows the participating youth to showcase their work in their respective regions. In addition, the camp includes training segments that will allow youth to acquire skills in creative social messaging techniques that they can apply to their work. The Youth Initiative sees added value in convening the AfriCamp to not only act as facilitator and sponsor, but most importantly, to raise the profile of the work young people are doing under challenging conditions.

The AfriCamp will bring young activists together so that they can learn from one another while we learn from them. It is integral for the YI to identify these local actors and collect this information to inform the OSI network. It will allow young activists to gain hands-on training in new media that could be translated to their advocacy efforts in their given fields. The participants will be recruited across the sub-Sahara Africa with ages ranging from 18-29 years.

The camp will take place at Lukenya, a camping site in the outskirts of Nairobi from the 14th to the 20th of March.
The camp is based in the barcamp principle of Unconference and will have the input of various youth from all over Africa

Some of Kenya’s well known bloggers like Mental Acrobatics and Mark Kaigwa will among participants

Pan Africa Media Conference 2010 an event being organized by one of Kenya’s biggest media houses, the Nation Media Group is set to take place in Nairobi on the 18th and 19th of March.

The aim of the event is to reflect on the past, present as well as look for any future prospects for Media in Africa. New Media is one of the things that will be discussed.

Ory Okolloh, a blogger and one of the forces behind Ushahidi – a crisis crowd sourcing project, will be the moderator.

Various other Kenyan bloggers like Rafiki Kenya , Rebecca Wanjiku, Intelligensia, Cold Tusker, Paula Kahumbu, Bankelele, Hash and myself(KenyanPoet) have been invited to participate in this conference.

I have written a post on this significant step for Kenyan bloggers in giving the future of media in Africa.

Barcamp Nairobi 2008 ( photo courtesy of White African)

Barcamp Nairobi 2008 ( photo courtesy of White African)

Plans for Barcamp Nairobi 2010 are in top gear with tentative dates of either 26th March or 12th – 13th June being voted for on the PBworks page.

Having been gone on a 1 year hiatus, there are suggestions to make the event a proper 2 day camp outside of Nairobi. Some of the topics that attendees would like to hear are: using GPS enabled cell phones to avoid traffic, cloud computing applications in Kenya, hardware hacking among others.

Lastly, Maker Faire Africa is coming to Kenya on the 6th & 7th of August this year.

The event is a celebration of African ingenuity, innovation and invention. It was first held in Accra Ghana, as a brain child of Emeka Okafor of Timbuktu Chronicles Blog.

All these technology events happening and only 3 months into the year is an indication that there will be an immense growth of the ICT space not just in Kenya but across many countries in Africa. We can only say ‘Watch this Space – the cyber space’


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