The Nairobi innovation week; cultivating innovation.
The Nairobi innovation week ended last week Friday. To me, albeit the physical closure of the event, I thought for a moment that it indeed should be a new beginning. Having attended the same event in 2016, I can agree that there was some change in this year’s event. The design was good and there were many exhibitors with notable products to showcase. We are really doing great in ICT, agriculture and possibly foreign relation. We however need to upscale our manufacturing.
Notably to begin with, I had a chance to stand and interact with the Finland embassy stall. I was thrilled that there were companies from Finland looking for partnerships in Kenya. The areas it touched were of great importance to our economy. Education, ICT and green technology were among the three key areas they were looking for partnerships. We are doing everything possible to make sure our education system is up to standard and is globally competitive. ICT is also an area that is getting a lot of attention especially around the areas of cyber security, big data, data analytics and cloud computing, broad band provision, 3-D processing, imaging and designing. We can’t overlook these areas by all cost. Green technology too is critical as we sustainably seek to conserve our environment and use technologies that are less polluting to the environment. The Finland embassy brought to the table areas of key note for our country and I hope to see them do exhibitions at the KICC for more deals to be sealed.
Unicef had an important message on smart toilets. It doesn’t matter whether yours is a pit latrine, you can add a finishing with the Sato toilet. This is a toilet that seeks to improve hygiene among low income households in the country. It is made of plastic and has a self-closing concept once you have flashed it. It minimizes the odor, improves the aesthetic look of the toilet and finally raises the hygiene levels.
The toilet is yet to be in the shops and shelves by the end of the month with other models yet to follow suit in the coming months. I support this noble cause for the sake of our children who don’t have access to safe and hygienic toilets. Our children are very crucial for the generations to come. Sato toilet is an innovation in the health sector which is getting a lot of attention lately.
Embassy of Israel
This came notably a short while after I had written an article about the lessons we can learn from Israel. This small country imports fish mainly from the country. However, I am a worried man since Lake Victoria has been on the news lately because of water hyacinth. To add salt to an injury, a water hyacinth harvester has been lying at the county offices idly while the hyacinth eats through the lake waters. Are we going to have any more fish to export to Israel? Unless we do something about the menace, we are on the losing end.
Israel has been on the forefront of supporting Kenyan farmers and supporting social community programs. It is important that we identify this cause and help in the efforts as much as we can. Mashav Israel is an online platform that offers insight to the causes Israel is involved in within Africa, Asia and Europe. One can get to visit the site and see how they can get help as a group or as a person to visit Israel for an exchange program.
In the month of January, I had a chance of visiting FunKidz factory. The ideas about the standard furniture that comes out of the factory is amazing. The children library cabinets are beautiful, the children beds are awesome with a lot of creativity not to mention the kid’s cots. The Kaizen idea fits in all these products in the sense that there are less wastes in terms of space for every piece of furniture that rolls out of the FunKidz factory.
The other fantastic idea is the Kidz Go Tech program that intends to empower the young minds on innovation in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) generally. Some simple innovations were on show case at the innovation week. The security system, the hydraulic system jack that uses pressure among other innovations caught my mind. With a lot of attention in STEM, enough funding for research, equipped innovation hubs and proper coordination between the government, private sector and the research sector; it is a matter of time before we get to where we have always dreamt of.
Konza Techno City
The flagship project that has been termed overambitious on some other times was on showcase at the Nairobi Innovation week too. The flagship project from the Kibaki regime is set to be up and running by the year 2022. The project is expected to create 20,000 jobs directly. Within the city will be shopping malls, world class research institutions, tech hubs, recreation facilities and education institutions.
The government is providing the basic infrastructure; transport, energy, water while interested investors only do the development. Once it is done, the project which can better be termed as “Silicon Savannah” will be one of its kind in the region. Once complete and the systems get to running efficiently and as expected, we will the Silicon Valley, the Bangalore and Telaviv of the East Africa Region.
Hand driven plough
There were some other notable showcases like a hand driven plough. It was a very interesting way of land preparation for small scale farmers but an important aspect that can improve the yield for agricultural produce. Such an invention made me excited on the way it can be commercialized to empower numberless farmers in the country. Going forward we need to see such more innovations and private players or even the government funding them to achieving their highest potential.
ICT Authority and University of Nairobi C4D Lab
This two bodies looked very key in driving ICT innovation going forward. iHub should work in corroboration with all these other bodies in ICT research to explore and research on the emerging wide ICT market.
Young people too should work closely with all these institutions to pursue entrepreneurship in the areas of technology. Opportunities are endless. I promised to collaborate with C4D lab to try and explore some ideas which can be very good opportunities.
There were a lot of exciting things on showcase. The place was robust from the opening day till it closed on Friday last week. I look forward to more exciting opportunities in the coming innovation weeks and at the end of it all, following up and working with some of the innovators in building our great nation Kenya.
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