Reflections After Demo Africa: Getting Innovation out of Nairobi

  1. While I appreciate the need for technology to spread throughout the nation, I think the very first thing we need to do is to get the enterprises outside Nairobi to be avid consumers of technology. A lot of these businesses are happy having a manual modus operandi. If we can change this, make them utilize tech widely in their day-to-day operations, then the need to develop tech spots/events/communities will be automatic. The donkey must drag the cart, not vice versa.

    1. Excellent. The only thing is this. The people who actually evangelise usage are the local people who drive uptake of technology by finding local relevance. This cannot successfully be done by Nairobians in Nairobi much more than it already had. Therefore build the tech communities and they will bring users. This is how it has been… Someone has to be there locally to help them understand relevance and making sure people take it up. As you say, the donkey must drag the cart.

  2. Am in agreement. Although far away from Nairobi at the moment (in Germany)-having been part of the Nairobi IT landscape for over 11 years (till mid 2011)-I believe in our ability to achieve our dreams but I#m also aware of the existing limitations i.e. access to finance, intellectual asset protection, marketing, project management etc.
    So incase you are looking for willing people to push the initiative-do count on me. I hope some people will benefit from my past mistakes.

  3. this is a great idea, having Digital centers of excellence closer to the masses or rather last-mile population will not only spark the culture to innovate but bring on board a larger ecosystem of developers across the board. will be glad to share my experience from my PASHA experience

  4. Congratulations on setting out a bold vision. While there is clearly much to be done, I'm sure your "socialist" tendencies will help you in that regard 😉

    I just have a few comments/questions:

    1. For those of us not in the know, what are shags as in Tech2Shags? I know several meanings of the word but none of them seem appropriate for this.
    2. I agree with your perspective. If you can build communities in those places, that will help with the education of the local population. While the goal is to enable locals to solve their own problems using technology, the Internet is global and there are plenty of problems to practice on while the local population becomes more technologically literate. Building the community of developers will take longer and also offers immediate potential opportunities for the developers themselves in terms of jobs, etc. – this makes it an easier starting place with direct effects on the other issue.
    3. There's no reason Mobile Mondays couldn't be expanded, or a related event set up that is fun and engaging for people who want to learn more about technology. Interesting to think about developers taking up positions as educators within their own communities at these events. This could put them in even better touch with the local needs that they may be able to solve, while also providing them with an initial base of beta testers and users.
    4. In reality, how are your ideas socialist? I am confused by the application of this term to what you are proposing but would like to understand the perspective of your critics. It all sounds pretty darn capitalist to me (and I mean that in the nicest sense of the word).
    5. Under the 3rd of your 4 step process, Startup, you mention "discover need for angel investment" as one of the occurrences at that stage. While you don't say that this is the only way to success, I think it's important to maintain the perspective that not all businesses need angel investment in order to succeed. I bring this up because all too often in the tech community here in the US, it seems that getting angel investment is seen as success in and of itself, which results in little support or advice being given to those that could succeed without it.

    Keep up the good work!

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