Perception is not everything. In my mind, I always thought Kenya is another underdeveloped war torn African country reeling in regional and internal pressure. The country has been getting too much sympathy from the West and East as they try to prop it up from its yesteryear woes.
Remember this is the same city which the world nicknamed Nairobbery for serious persistent crimes and day light robbery before.
I was not too excited about visiting Nairobi as I honestly felt Harare could be better. The whole journey towards the Huawei Safe City, I was just looking forward to another African country struggling with terrorism bombings and recently established government.
Of course like any other Techie, we have all heard the success stories from M-pesa, which Ecocash copied, the technology hubs like and successful apps likes Ushahidi while they have established an epitome of tech development through tech hubs like Silicon Savannah, creating world exciting apps and serious efforts to create Africa’s own silicon valley.
Landing at the Nairobi international airport did not quickly give a new perspective .Yes the airport is bigger than Harare International but the standards were not really stunning which was unimpressive.
Lo and behold, as we slowly drove from the airport into the city there was massive congestion that almost resembled my Experience in Beijing. Nairobi quickly moved from an African typical city. I had an instant shift to undeniable reality. Was I still in an African country or hypnotised to another continent?
What will obviously capture your attention once you land in Nairobi and in the vicinity of the city there is the serious infrastructure development currently going on.
Amazingly, Nairobi has been now titled the ICT hub of Africa. One simple reason why they deservedly got that title is the serious fibre backbone investment put in the capital that runs across the breath of the capital.
With this wide fibre optic investment, many companies today in Nairobi find it easy to run their companies with strong ICT company policies that are easy to implement. This separates Nairobi with the rest of African cities for the Kenyans believe “connectivity is everything” .
The recent Huawei Safe City Summit Showcase is an example of how technologically advancement investments can spur a country’s development. As the government harnessed technology to solve their problems more than 1800 security cameras today have been installed around the CBD, a move which was necessitated by high crime rates in Nairobi.
Huawei announced during the safe city project that they have introduced a technology that can monitor, trigger alarm and help apprehend criminals mainly because the country has fibre and connectivity already laid.
When internet is already laid in any state, the costs of communication and access to information becomes heavily accessible a move directly drives the growth of an economy.
Kenyans have have attracted millions of venture capitalists who are willing to find an idea, unlike in Zimbabwe , lots of ideas with no capital injection thus killing the ecosystem from thriving and here is an interesting quote from VC4a on Nairobi
“Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, has transformed into a technology epicentre. An agile mobile banking system has created new market opportunities for digital entrepreneurs. 3G internet connections have became more and more affordable and still are mobile payment services are booming up and the promising startup scene and ecosystem constantly is reinventing their offerings. Silicon Savannah has positioned itself as an epicentre of startup weekends, innovations meet ups, accelerators, incubator events and investors get together. True to that form, Nairobi has one of East Africa’s highest concentrations of US dollar millionaires accounting for 8400 in number as of 2016.
We should give credit to the following 3 intertwined factors that has positioned and transformed Nairobi as the Silicon Savannah, mimicking Silicon Valley in California, USA:
Kenya government at the forefront of technology development – investors are being lured to invest in Nairobi, and are heeding the call positively so and the city has positioned itself as an investor friendly city by being open to aid agencies, development funds and foreign NGO’s.
The birth of M-Pesa revolution by Vodafone in 2003 and subsequent launch by Safaricom in 2007. This revolution inspired many to be tech entrepreneurs and proactively launch startups.
The launch of iHub in 2010 – as an open space for startups, positioned Kenya’s capital, Nairobi as the future of startups, technology and innovation.”
Its much more easier to start your own tech company or drive your solution when hundreds are dangling seed funding for easy reach, which in our Zimbabwean case is a major need.
Most young techies are often demotivated which has drained all the hope in pursuing their dreams and visions due to the lack of financial support, a factor that really kills innovations that have the potential to spur our development.
Meanwhile there is more to money exposure and international community coming through has driven Kenya to dizzy heights.
While word is out and about that Im in USA, lookout for my next article which I know you are drooling for. Next up in the #MyExperience sequel is #MyExperienceInUSA with insightful American odysseys which can help Zimbabwe’s ICTs.
Watch this space.