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Nairobi Innovation Week

The Nairobi Innovation Week, an annual event hosted by the University of Nairobi has entered its fourth day. It began on 1st of August and is scheduled to run for five days until 6th August 2016. The event organized by the University of Nairobi aims to champion relevant policy discussions on innovation within institutions; promote practical skills necessary to create innovations that impact people and society at large; showcase and recognize innovations by researchers, incubates, startups and organizations and to build a platform for presentation and dissemination of relevant academic papers, innovation illustration and case studies. The event is on its second leg pooling over 1000 delegates and 39 speakers drawn from Commercial Banks, Government ministries, Non-Governmental Organizations, UNICEF, World Bank and Israel among others.

Metal detector by Engineering students, University fo Nairobi

Kenya is known as Africa’s Silicon Savannah as it relies on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) for economic growth.  It is noted that Kenyans are very innovative developing apps to aid in local activities such as money transfer, farming, shopping and selling products online. Kenya is set apart from other countries in Africa through the active use of mobile devices to access internet. M-Pesa was one of the first big innovation in Kenya that allowed mobile network providers to provide money transfer services to their customers. The growth in ICT start-ups is being nurtured by accelerators such as Nailab, IHub, Nairobi Garage and UBI Global. These firms provide space, mentorship and guidance to start-up companies for three to six months period so as to gain stake in the resulting company. They work with entrepreneurs to build the start-up to stable companies.

Left; roof tiles fitted with solar panels by Strauss Energy, Right; Slum upgrading model by Slum Architects, University of Nairobi.

In order to achieve Vision 2030, Kenya listed Innovation as one of the main drivers of economic growth. The Nairobi Innovations Week serves as an important platform for policy makers from the government, Academia, entrepreneurs with innovations and many other stakeholders in the field of innovations to interact and share ideas. Being hosted by the University of Nairobi, the event also presents students with the opportunity to showcase their work and meet with the external market providing them with needed exposure to refine their ideas and contribute to the ICT Industry.

Sharon J. Boit, CURI.

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