• Discussions in the tech week event will revolve around Web 3.0, AI and IoT, digitization of the informal sector, hardware and even robotics.
• As part of the event, the county has created a ‘Deal Room’ aimed at linking startups to investors
The Nairobi City County is hosting its inaugural tech week this week seeking to create economic opportunities for startups and the tech community at large.
Officially unveiled by Governor Johnson Sakaja, the event is themed ‘innovation unleashed for economic opportunities.’
The inaugural InnovateNBO event has attracted over 25 startup ecosystem partners, over 1000 online delegate registrations, over 40 event partners, as well as over 40 speakers.
Additionally, 10 regional startups from Egypt, Malawi, Nigeria, Togo and Zimbabwe also registered for the event.
Speaking during the launch at the Edge Convention Centre in South C, Sakaja noted that the county’s digital economy and startup ecosystem sector has been performing well.
Having recorded over 47 ecosystem partners to facilitate the event, he said that the county government is committed to doing whatever it takes to develop the human capital that Nairobi already has to make sure that it thrives and exports solutions.
These are solutions that are scalable through supporting the startup ecosystem and tech communities in Nairobi.
“We all know how good Nairobi’s creatives and innovators have been in coming up with creative answers to problems,” Sakaja said.
“We have the energy and creativity to find solutions to any number of our problems. The difficulty is connecting those solutions to problems they are designed to solve, iterating them so that we can get better with time and building the networks, skills and institutions that will let us innovate faster and let innovators reap the benefits of their creativity.”
Sakaja added that Nairobi has been good at innovating but what is needed is to make sure that it is as good in the business of building a digital economy.
“To achieve this, there must be investment, due attention, and intentionality,” he said.
Sakaja also said that the county government is committed to close cooperation with the tech ecosystem and continued close relations with both local and international partners.
He, however, added that there are some areas that need improvement.
Sakaja noted that there is a need to get better at automating government services.
“Technology ndio adui ya ukora (Technology is an enemy to thuggery). The more we innovate, the more we use technology, the fewer avenues there are to steal and maleficence because we reduce the interaction with cash, create efficiency and people are served much better,” Sakaja said.
He said that the county plans to create a hackerspace at CityHall for youths.
“We want to give our young people challenges in issues such as healthcare, garbage collection, solid waste management, transport and even water and tell them, here is a chance to innovate, the winning innovation gets the tender to do that job,” he added.
“Through this way, we will be able to build the ecosystem. This tech week is not going to be a one-off event, it is a new way of doing things where we are part of the ecosystem and work together throughout the year.”
Sakaja also said that more needs to be done in regard to startup collaboration with the tech ecosystem as well as legislation in the sector.
“Nairobi is Africa’s capital, the economic hub of the continent and the centre of the world as it opens up to the whole world. We will do our part and we also need the community as part of the ecosystem to do their part so that it can work,” he said.
He also called on the streamlined entry for foreign partners and firms.
“It is saddening that most of our successful startups are not in Kenya and we know why,” Sakaja said.
“We are in talks so that certain tax breaks are given to our innovators, incentives are issued, work permits for partners are issued so as to spur great growth for our country.”
Among those present for the event were Kileleshwa MCA Robert Alai and Kangemi MCA Hamisi Maleya.
Nairobi Deputy Governor Njoroge Muchiri said the tech week is an innovation to solve problems, create employment, improve lifestyle and ensure that people are able to work in a much more comfortable way.
“The by-product of this is to make money. We can take advantage of this and create a thriving economy around technology, innovation and problem-solving for the kind of urban-related problems we have,” Muchiri said.
On his part, Digital Economy and Innovation CEC Mike Gumo said the county values community and market-driven approaches which is the only way to ensure interventions are effective.
“The community approach is in line with the national government’s drive of adoption of private-public partnership in supporting the development agenda in technology,” Gumo said.
“This approach not only brings private sector efficiency in program implementation but sustainability.”
Digital Economy and Startups Chief County Officer (CCO) Victor Agolla added that the county government plans to decentralise resources to ensure that the youth are able to innovate.
“As part of the event we have created a ‘Deal Room’ where we are linking startups to investors and we already have 10 investors in those rooms,” Agolla said.
He noted that talks in the tech week event will revolve around Web 3.0, AI and IoT, digitization of the informal sector, hardware and even robotics.
“We have a full-fledged hackathon being run by Africa’s Talking that is running throughout where winners will be announced,” he added.
“There is also a kids hackathon that will attract 160 children as well as a live podcasting session courtesy of Sema Box and Baraza Media Lab. We also have a live immersion session in partnership with Liquid Intelligent Technologies.”