By Hilda Moraa
  Published 30 Aug 2012
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Hilda Moraa, iHub Research ([email protected])

Kelvin Murage, iHub Research ([email protected])

Kenya is heading to becoming Africa's ICT Hub:

There is no doubt that Kenya is on the journey of becoming an ICT Hub in Africa. The rapid growth of innovation spaces in Kenya gives us confidence that the journey is hopeful.

Innovation spaces have increasingly been at the centre stage of economic development. Notably through rapid technological advancement, facilitating speedy access of ideas and experiences, financial aid, collaborations and prompt exchange of information. In today’s world, access, usage and investments in ICT has been a  fundamental enabler in linking communities, facilitating businesses and empowering communities both socially and economically. Increasing access to information and communication services in rural and underserved areas is therefore crucial in accelerating development as they form part of the innovation ecosystem. Kenya as country is leveraging on these facts and is investing heavily in ICT. This can be seen with the innovations that are springing up from the innovation spaces, with the Government playing a key role, and, at the forefront Kenya ICT Board.

Contribution of ICT Investments to GDP growth:

The ICT sector in Kenya contributes 5% to the GDP towards the growth and development of the country (fiscal year 2011-2012). This represents a marked improvement since the same sector contributed an average of 3.7% to GDP, according to reports released by the World Bank in 2010. This growth can be attributed to the robust telecommunications infrastructure, rise of ICT Hubs, and high capacity international gateways. The country has also made remarkable progress by putting in place an ICT policy framework and implementation strategy, with measurable outcomes and time frames as part of the vision 2030 plan.

Continued growth of Mobile & Internet subscriptions:

The continued growth in mobile and internet subscriptions is a clear indication that the Internet penetration will continue to rise to offer more competitive innovative products and services that cater for the needs of the growing population in the country. Many of such innovation are happening in the innovation spaces.

In conjunction with the rapid growing number of mobile and Internet users as recently reported by CCK in their 3rd quarter statistics, the number of science courses and IT students graduating each year continues to increase. This number has increased each year in both public and private universities. Innovation spaces, where entrepreneurs congregate to bounce ideas around, network, work, learn, program, and design to make their ideas into actions, seem to offer an ideal environment to nurture such fresh Kenyan graduates. This is achieved through encouraging cohesion, co-working and entrepreneurship spirit.

This growth is further illuminated through Kenya's current reputation as an ICT investor's paradise. Given the number of multinational companies that are setting up offices in the country, e.g GSMA, IBM, Qualcomm, Google, Gumtree, Nokia, among others. With the additional telecommunication standards set by the CCK, Kenya has a vision of becoming the “silicon valley savanna” in Africa.

Innovation spaces propelling the country to the forefront of IT:

These innovation spaces have been used as a conduit to encourage and spur innovation by transforming the ideas of the graduates and young entrepreneurs into real products. These innovations range from commercial to social products working on different platforms such as mobile web, SMS, USSD and Android.

These innovation spaces have already propelled the country to the forefront of the IT industry. Some of these spaces are virtual while others have a physical presence. Above is an infographic of a list of 16 innovation spaces that have so far emerged from Kenya located in different places. The number continues to grow, the various management models adjust, and their initiatives as well. iHub Research is on a journey to understand some of these innovation spaces, their sustainability models and how they impact the entrepreneurs and their innovations. The selection of the innovation spaces in the ICT Hubs study is based on clear metrics and criteria to be able to measure the impact effectively. If you are an innovation space based in Kenya and we have left you out in this infographic, kindly let us know and we will add you to the list.

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