Are Kenyans sitting on the next big thing in tech?

TALKING INNOVATION: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) talks with a biofuel business owner at the Power Africa Innovation Fair at the United Nations compound in Nairobi, Kenya July 25, 2015. Photo/REUTERS
TALKING INNOVATION: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) talks with a biofuel business owner at the Power Africa Innovation Fair at the United Nations compound in Nairobi, Kenya July 25, 2015. Photo/REUTERS

Most Kenyans think they are sitting on the “next big thing” in technology, a study by health and well-being company Philips study reveals.

The Netherlands-based firm carried out the Innovation Research study in five African countries to understand what the citizens think of innovation, barriers to innovation and areas where successful innovation could improve lives.

The results released yesterday come as some taxi drivers in Nairobi try to fight revolutionary taxi app Uber which has been widely embraced in the city.

The survey reveals Kenyans see themselves not merely as early adopters of new technology, but as innovators themselves.

The country is widely recognised as the home of money-sharing app Mpesa.

Fifty four per cent of Kenyans interviewed (base of 1024) claim they are innovators, with 59 per cent believing their idea is the “next big thing”.

Eighty three per cent of respondents indicated lack of money as a key barrier, 34 per cent highlighted government regulations and 26 per cent mentioned an unsupportive corporate culture.

Following the results, Philips said it would support Kenyan innovators in healthcare by collaborating with 1776, a Washington DC-based incubator and seed fund, and supporting theupcoming Challenge Cup.

The Africa regional innovation challenge cup will take place in Nairobi on Thursday next week.

“If you believe that you have the next big meaningful innovation, Philips wants to know about it. We believe that everyone has the potential to change the way we live for the better. Enter the Challenge Cup competition, submit your next big idea and you have a chance to make a real difference to the current challenges identified in our Kenyan Innovation Research Report,” said Roelof Assies, general manager, Philips East Africa.

The study revealed that innovation in Kenya is deeply rooted in people who are educated, independent in their businesses or hold senior positions in companies.

Majority of participants, 85 per cent, identified healthcare and education (70 per cent) as areas of opportunity in innovation and where the most beneficial results would be seen.

Another 49.7 per cent mentioned public transportation and infrastructure as a sector that could benefit from innovation.

Other countries surveyed were Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco and Egypt. Nigeria showed the highest overall score with 69 per cent in believing they are innovators followed by South Africaat 60 per cent, Kenya at 54 per cent, Egypt at 28 per cent and Morocco 27 per cent.

But at 58 per cent, it was Kenyans who are most optimistic about their ideas being the ‘the next big thing’. Nigerians follow at 57 per cent and South Africans at 46 per cent.

The 1776 Challenge Cup will be tournament-style competition the will include other pan-African finalists.

Philips, who have their Africa Innovation hub in Nairobi, said cup will provide an early glimpse of tomorrow’s innovations.