ICT Authority Innovation Forum was successful

Kenya’s very first innovation forum on 2nd & 3rd March, 2015 at KICC attracted hundreds of aspiring business people, fully-fledged entrepreneurs and startups, multi-nationals and Kenyan national winners. All of them are united by one vision, one purpose. Innovation.

The hub of East Africa is at a tipping point of mushrooming into Africa’s technology epicentre, but there is a gap that needs to be bridged; a bridge that needs to be built.

Under the auspices of the ICT Authority, I attended and joined His Excellency, President Uhuru Kenyatta, to discuss how we can create a powerful new ICT brand. One that inspires. One that creates lasting change. And one that could define the next generation.The forum attracted startups, delegates and major industry players in which various issues affecting ICT in Kenya were largely discussed. The forum made significant gains with a presidential directive on buying local ICT productions for all government ministries and departments. The platform allowed for all stakeholders to plug in and create collaborative partnerships going forward towards improving the sector. It also proved the increasing dominance of ICT as a major driver of the Kenyan economy.

The forum was also successful as the dream of the Enterprise Kenya foundation is finally alive. The enterprise Kenya foundation will be a quasi-owned government private sector body charged with the mandate of scaling Kenya ICT. The body will offer a single framework for innovators to sell their products, offer venture funds for start-ups as well as help the industry thrive as Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) did for the various sectors. The ICT authority promised concrete action to this effect through institutional reforms, collaboration with stakeholders and a local content policy.

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore talked of the need to harness capacity and bridge the gaps in ICT.  “Start-ups have the ability to make the best products. They sweat every detail and over-think all aspects thereby creating a niche,” said Collymore.  The CEO also reaffirmed Safaricom’s commitment in supporting innovation in the country through the mobile development challenge and the setting up of the angel fund for developers.

Developers who win the App challenge will also have a chance to participate in global innovation challenges. Speaking of the challenges, Collymore spoke of the need to offer global platforms for local products, accelerate growth through incubators and funding for business ideas. He also challenged the government to endorse local ICT products.

Techies joined dots and crystallised how they can catalyse the next decade of Kenyan entrepreneurship.

This was the first event of its kind aimed at bringing the top echelons of decisions makers in the innovation ecosystem. This included, solution providers/innovators, academia and research institutions, government, bilateral organisations, venture capitalists, incubation labs, and ICT consumers.

This forum is proposed in recognition of the fact that, ICTA have successfully launched very strategic national ICT programs and initiated new discussions. This therefore brought in the need for additional independent forums to digest in greater depth the action items that come out of Connected Kenya, and accelerate their implementation.

Main Goals of Innovation Forum:

  1. To Create awareness about ICT and business innovation as investment opportunities
  2. To connect public service, investors and innovators
  3. To encourage investors to invest in the ICT sector in order to develop our economy and give our youth wealth and Jobs opportunities
  4. To showcase the best of Kenya’s innovations to top government officials and industry captains 

Target Audience:

  1. Government policy makers
  2. Academia and Research Institutions
  3. Venture Capitalists
  4. ICT Businesses, Start-ups and Incubation Labs
  5. Bilateral Organisations

Main Focus areas of the Forum:

  1. Strategic Procurement: Government Procurement and Market Access
  2. Unlocking Risk Capital
  3. Skill Development
  4. Co-Innovation, Research and Development
  5. ITeS Exports
  6. National Incubation Hubs and Accelerators

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