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Is Kenya Africa's Silicon Valley?

  • Broadcast in Entrepreneur



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Last year about this time, Kenya entered the global broadband boom with the landing of the SEACOM international broadband cable. David Owino, co-founder of HumanIPO and intimate with the Kenyan ICT sector, joins AfribizTalk to share about what is going on and where the software development community is heading.

Owino says three changes over the last couple of years have positioned the Kenyan ICT market where it is today. First, political and regulatory reforms increased freedoms and competition. For example, Kenya just passed a new constitution in August of this year. Second, undersea cable systems like SEACOM and EASSY increased available international bandwidth. And third, the Kenyan government developed an extensive fibre optic backhaul to reach the far corners of the country, as well as connecting Kenya to other East African countries.

Owino indicates that this improved environment creates a foundation for a burgeoning web and mobile application/services development community. Kenyan ICT entrepreneurs like Ushahidi (a non-profit) and Virtual City (winner of $1,000,000 Nokia Growth Economy Venture Challenge) are already making their presence known internationally.

He notes that while the development community has a lot of potential it still has several challenges. While young ICT entrepreneurs have the technical talent and are innovative, many do not have the business savvy to bring their ideas to market. Also, finances for startups represent another challenge.

This development community represents an opportunity for investors looking to get into successful ventures early. IPO48.org, a bootcamp and competition for tech start-ups, is a good example of investors bringing both the finances and coaching needed by Kenyan ICT entrepreneurs.

When asked which Kenyan entrepreneurs would bring the next global rage, Owino said “expect a few to come from IPO48.”