Kenya is fast becoming a startup beacon for the rest of Africa so much that it is commonly referred to as the Silicon Savanah. Nairobi has various incubation spaces such as Nailab, iHub, 88 mph, ilabAfrica Savanah fund among others. During the aftermath of the disputed 2007 presidential election, Ushahidi a crowdsourcing platform realized the political influence that crowdsourcing could have for social activism and public accountability. The founding of iHub as a space for emerging technology community followed from Ushahidi’s popularity. The innovation space has since grown in leaps and bounds since inception in 2008. It now has over 16,000 members, having incubated 150 tech startups and created more than 1,000 jobs
During an interview with Bloomberg, Juliana Rotich an iHub trustee had this to say about iHub and the Kenyan startup scene. The iHub generally provides a chance for entrepreneurs mostly individuals who have just finished college to determine how to apply their technology skills, who to collaborate with in order to make their prototypes a reality.
Some of the innovative products to come out of iHub is the BRCK, which is basically a redesign of a router for the emerging market. It was borne out of a need to get local solutions to problems afflicting most African countries, power outages. If power goes out BRCK can work for up to 8 hrs in full power mode and much longer in a lower power state. The BRCK is also designed to work in harsh environments where infrastructure is not robust, allows for drops, dust and weather resistance.
Juliana also stated that to date the contribution of the I.C.T sector to the Kenyan economy is 8.4 % with this figure expected to grow, which I think is true considering the boom in the startup scene. She finished the interview by emphasizing that the importance of incubation hubs is to create startups which create jobs that create value that gives back to the economy influencing GDP.
Check out the full interview below