Konza: Africa’s Silicon Savannah

January 15, 2012

10:00 am

Sitting on a 2,000 hectare piece of land, Konza Technology City, 60km south of the Nairobi business district, is set to create a modern, inclusive and sustainable Kenya. In a country home to some of the world’s most innovative technology companies, like Mpesa (M for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money), Ushahidi (Swahili for testimony), and M-farm, it is without any doubt turning Kenya into the premier ICT destination in Africa.

Kenya is already one of the most developed and stable African nations and is considered to be one of the world’s new high-growth economies. There is also a buzzing startup scene within the country, which suggests investor confidence is on a sharp rise.

A large number of mobile and web startups churned out products and services, but mostly pitched during the numerous tech events held last year, some of which included IPO48, a 48-hour long bootcamp; pivotEast (formerly pivot25), a consortium that is encourage mobile development; and AITEC, an organization that supports the ICT community in Kenya.  It is safe to say the country is NOT short of young and brilliant entrepreneurial minds.

The lack of experience, adequate resources, and knowledge of how to build a large and profitable business contributes to startup failures. For these reasons, incubators have been set up all over the city to nurture some of the country’s most promising and innovative ideas and help them scale to maturity.

One of the pioneering incubators in the region is ihub. Known as Nairobi’s premier innovation hub for the technology community, ihub is an open space for investors, tech companies, and hackers in the area. It is arguably the center stage where everything new in technology within the city takes place.

The space is funded and supported by some of the world’s leading technology companies, like Google, Nokia, and Samsung, and it serves as the heart of all technology meetups. It is a place where partnerships, joint ventures, mentorships and all manner of hackathon activities takes place. Ushahidi and M-farm were born at iHub.

Other ICT hubs and centers in the city include iLab at Strathmore University, one of the country’s most prominent and well-respected private universities; NaiLab; mlab; and humanIPO, which is set to launch soon.

An entrepreneurial culture that encourages creativity, innovation, and cooperation is powerful. In a country aiming to become a middle income economy by year 2030, there is no better and exciting place to do business than in this beautiful and amazing country called Kenya.

Guest writer Louis Openda is the founder and Managing Director at Intellisoftplus, and he is a typical techpreneur – always burning with ideas for tech startups. Find him discussing thought leadership, disruptive and revolutionary technologies and investments on Twitter at @LouiV.

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