This year has seen a number of ICT incubation hubs and international investors set up base in Kenya, with Nairobi in particular catching the eye of the likes of IBM and private seed fund 88mph, just the latest entrants into the rapidly growing Kenyan tech scene.
Some of the tech hubs in the country include:
Founded by the creators of Ushahidi as an open innovation space that brings together technologists, hackers, investors and tech companies, iHub provides an open space with 20MB Internet connection to its green members. This year has seen a number of world-renowned technologists visit, including Nokia Corporation CEO Stephen Elop, who had an informal developer-oriented discussion on what’s been going on in the world of Nokia – the platform approach and the focus on developers. The iHub is situated in the Bishop Magua building along Ngong Road, Nairobi.
Launched in July 2011, m:lab is an incubator for growth-oriented start-up enterprises that are focused on developing mobile applications. July 2012 saw m:lab hold its inaugural graduation for the first and second wave trainees after an intensive 4-month period of training. m:lab is based one floor below the iHub.
Nailab was formed with the objective of helping young entrepreneurs to scale up their business in Kenya. The main idea behind Nailab is to create a business incubator in Nairobi whose chief role was to stimulate innovation, promote the thinking through of fresh new ideas, provide a space for these ideas to be worked on with little financial strain as possible and provide the appropriate guidance necessary to do so.
This is yet another business incubator located in the same building as iHub and m:lab. 2012 has seen some of the startups incubated in this space grow into international businesses, including Tusqee Systems Limited, an alumnus of the Nailab Incubation Program.
IBM Research Lab, Nairobi
IBM Corporation selected Nairobi to act as its premier location in Africa for its research lab on the continent, a collaboration between Kenya and IBM East Africa. Under this arrangement, the partners will each contribute US$10 million over a period of five years. IBM Research’s presence in Kenya will encourage and strengthen an innovative culture, and engage local entrepreneurs and innovators to develop solutions to the challenges faced by the people of Kenya, the surrounding region and other fast-growing markets around the world.
88mph Garage Nairobi
Established in February this year by private seed fund 88mph, it is currently the largest co-working space in Africa, providing a total of 800 square meters to Web/ mobile startups from East Africa and beyond. 88mph Garage Nairobi has over 130 workstations. This year, the hub hosted some of the major events in the tech scene, including The Nokia Hackathon, Google Week and Demo Day, which marked the end of the three-month incubation period of the startups 88mph invested in this year. The incubation hub also houses some of the 15 startups in which 88mph has invested in. It is situated along Ngong Road in Nairobi.
These are just some of the developments in Kenya’s tech hubs arena. Many tech enthusiasts are watching with keen interest to see what 2013 has in store for the country in the tech scene.