Category Archives: Kenya ICT

Kikao64 opens in Eldoret

This week at Eldoret saw the opening of Kikao64, a unique and modern co-working spaces for local entrepreneurs and businesses that will have a regular series of knowledge sharing and networking events around innovation, startups, art, sports, lectures, and film.

Albert Boreto, the centre Director, said Kikao64, will invite professionals to advise on company registration, tax, legal, accounting and web development services. Kikao64 has 100 desks (80 ‘hot’ and 20 dedicated ones), private offices, private meeting rooms, and good Wi-Fi across a large space of shared workspaces. The desks are available for Shs 750 per day or Shs 4,000 a week or Shs 16,000 per month, and to connect with existing community initiatives, the space has a 50% discount for nonprofits, athletes and startup businesses, while and others who sign on through the end of  April 2021, can get discounts of 25%.

Speaking at the launch of Kikao64,  the Governor of Uasin Gishu County, Jackson Mandago, said his administration was proud to be associated with the Kikao64 shared working space that embraces technology and enables people to work in the new normal of Covid-19. He confessed that he had been thinking of something similar, but the new space was better and well-situated, with good ambience, and he hoped it would become a famous meeting spot in Eldoret as others like Barnegtuny Plaza.

He said many people wanted to start businesses and two main problems they faced were office space and internet and these had been solved by Kikao64 for about Shs 2,000. He appreciated the need for fast internet for as, while trying to promote the government’s AGPO (Access to Government Procurement Opportunities), some young business people had been previously knocked out from opportunities as they were not able to completely upload procurement documents due to poor connectivity.

The site was an old run-down place building before its founders embark on renovating it with a unique design into a conducive place for people in the Eldoret area. The transformation process was delayed for a year by Covid-19 and the redesign added on safety aspects like spacing between desks and hand wash stations.

Kikao64 also has a garden that can host events, meeting rooms private phone booths, a small library with new, business and bestselling books, a coffee shop, and private parking. It is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. between Monday to Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Konza and Smart City Solutions, post-COVID

This week, the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (Konza) hosted a webinar, with the theme was using digital technologies in the planning for the future of cities after coronavirus (COVID-19) has passed.  

It was unique in that it featured two of the original main movers behind Konza; Bitange Ndemo, the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, whose’ brainchild was Konza and Mugo Kibati who was the Director-General of Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Board, and Konza was one of their flagship projects.

The day’s main speaker was Jerome Ochieng, the current Principal Secretary ICT and Innovation who said it was exciting to see a planned city being built from scratch. He said that previous cities had traditionally developed services in silos, but this had led to high costs, waste, and duplication. But he said, going forward with Konza, and using smart cities planning and technology, they would be able to improve the quality and performance of urban living spaces, while reducing energy consumption, service management costs, greenhouse gas emissions. He added that COVID was one of the greatest advertisers of technology – to solve challenges we encounter and that such events will drive how the government will provide services post-COVID.

He highlighted they had been pre-occupied with building the necessary and extensive “basement” work of horizontal infrastructure at Konza- underground utility tunnels (for fibre, power, water and sensors), access roads for pedestrians, BRT etc. These would serve the current and future service needs of the smart city, but that once that was done, other construction projects would take off quickly.

At this stage, Konza, which is 30% done, will also host a permanent building of the national data centre that will be ready by year-end while the city will also host the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, according to Konza CEO, John Tanui.

Mugo Kibati said we are now in an era of lower touch, and lower contact for all our interactions and this was happening through technology. Telkom Kenya, the company he now leads, is aiming to position itself to serve these current and future needs as, even after COVID ends, as some changes it has induced, will remain the norm and sustain long after the pandemic. he cited how residential homes now require more bandwidth as more people are working and schooling from home, ordering food and getting medical attention via telemedicine etc. He said that in smart cities, and with more data being generated, that require predictability and planning, telcos will have to move up the value chain to be part of that future.

Bitange Ndemo said that when Kenya did the open data initiative, they had to host a lot of data outside of the country, but that this would not happen any more now that there is a data centre at Konza. He highlighted how there would be opportunities to use data locally to upscale SME’s.

Adam Lane, Deputy CEO Government Affairs at Huawei Kenya, said that Konza will have an intelligent operation centre, comprising network, cloud, platform and then apps, that will provide management for the smart city, like other centres that Huawei has built. He said that on a smart city street, you do not have a pole for lighting, a pole for electricity, a pole for telecommunication etc.

Konza and Smart Cities in Kenya

This week saw a webinar on August 3 hosted by the Konza Technopolis Development Authority on the planning and growth of smart cities.

It featured governments speakers and urban planners led by Jerome Ochieng, the PS for ICT and Innovation and Dr Chris Kiptoo PS, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, along with Eng. John Tanui, the CEO of Konza, Dr Shipra Suri of UN-Habitat, Juliet Rita of the Architectural Association of Kenya and Karen Basiye, Head of Sustainable Business at Safaricom.

Others were John Kabuye of the Kenya Green Building Society, Enosh Onyango of the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS), Ambassador Njambi Kinyungu from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Demola Olajide of UNFPA and Annah Musyimi of Konza – and was moderated by Constant Cap.

Excerpts on the different themes . .

Sustainable Urban Development and Environmental Conservation:

  • Nairobi has had rapid population growth and rapid urbanization – this has led to waste from mushrooming informal settlements mushrooming being discharged into rivers, dysfunctional sewers, industrial waste flowing into rivers with no treatment, overflowing manholes etc. – PS Kiptoo
  • The ecological footprint of cities extends way beyond their administrative boundaries – taking in resources and giving back waste. This has to change and things like urban agriculture are important to foods security and bringing down heat levels – Shipra
  • As part of Safaricom’s plan to be a net-zero company, they committed to plant 5 million. They joined with KFS where in planting trees at South Marmanent where they have empowered communities to do more planting. To date, they have planted half a million and will extend to tree projects to Kieni, Busia, the Mau and Mombasa – Karen
  • Urban settlements must factor in issues of the environment – John Tanui
  • Konza has been designed using a “stitch & band approach” and its developments parallel to Mombasa road have green (forest and wildlife) corridors- Annah
  • NMS identified 153 discharge points and shut them down. Also of 110 illegal dumping areas, 87 have been cleared – Enosh
  • We comingle waste, but when we separate it, we get value – Kabuye

Designing Infrastructure for Sustainable Outcomes:

  • Konza is being developed using smart city principles; each plot has its use (commercial, education, industrial, wildlife conversation), and it is being developed in phases so it grows as its population increases to eventually reach 200,000 people – PS Ochieng.
  • This is the best time now to talk about sustainable cities. The degradation of nature and land-use changes are increasing the risk of pandemics; we are paying the price of unsustainable consumption of natural resources – PS Kiptoo
  • At UN-Habitat we aim to learn from global principles and norms for Kenya to emulate – Njambi
  • Business and residential associations don’t have anyone who looks at sustainability. That has to change – John
  • If a city does not produce better outcomes, we can’t call it smart – Constant Cap
  • UN-Habitat believes people should be the focus of smart cities programs. The goal is not to go high-tech, but “smart” means you are responsive to people, think ahead and take everybody along – Shipra
  • Konza meets the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations – PS Ochieng
  • We need urban spaces that are responsive to achieve urban dimensions of the SDG’s – Njambi

Smart Solutions for Urban Planning:

  • On Internet of Things (IoT), Safaricom has done smart-metering of aerial water meters with SHOFCO in Kibera (residents buy water with their phones). They are working on IoT for the PSV sector and with UNEP, are monitoring air pollution levels in Nairobi – Karen
  • Konza has been running innovation challenges on COVID and has received 516 submissions from all the 47 counties – Annah
  • Plans are not implemented because many are only prepared as a legal requirement; they are not people-oriented to give solutions. They also require changes in land use and policy, but the country’s system of land ownership makes it hard to have changes – Juliet
  • In the developed world, unless children go back to school, parents can’t go back to work. But Africa has other caregivers in the home – Demola
  • During COVID, people have locked up in spaces that were supposed to be their homes, and this had resulted in social problems – Demola
  • COVID has been the biggest advertisement of the need for well-planned and well-managed urban spaces – Shipra
  • Riparian encroachment by buildings, garages, car washes and eateries come about from not planning well – PS Kiptoo

Urban Planning in Smart Cities Management:

  • Digital streaming and collecting data using IoT will enable Konza to make real-time decisions on transport management, smart environment monitoring, smart metering water & energy – PS Ochieng
  • You can’t manage what you can’t measure. The Kenya Green Building Society has come up with a tool measure performance of buildings, neighbourhoods, and cities in terms of energy, water, waste, human experience and transportation. They have also donated sensors to Mbagathi and KEMRI to measure Co2 emissions and carbon monoxide – Kabuye
  • Planning is still very relevant. We have seen what COVID has done to cities as it is an urban-centric disease – Njambi

Conclusion: The mistakes of Nairobi’s sprawl are not unique, as Sub-Saharan African cities are the fastest-growing urban areas. It is envisaged that the smart planning and design at Konza and the use of IoT to manage the community and environment will make it a sustainable place for a population of 200,000 people. It will accommodate 30,000 residents, 17,000 who are anticipated to work in the complex.

The webinar ended with a call by PS Kiptoo have Konza set the pace for all other cities in the country to “go smart” while PS Ochieng asked more Kenyans to visit Konza to see the ongoing developments and to add to the 10,000 seedlings that will be planted every year there for the Technopolis and community.

Konza, Urban Planning and Smart Cities

Nairobi is home to over 4 million people jostling to earn a living in the hub of Kenya and the Eastern Africa region. It takes many aspects to plan, manage, develop, run and conserve a city like Nairobi sustainably, but the Covid-19 Pandemic has evolved to be an urban crisis, forcing city managers and investors to reconsider their plans and roles.

Covid has also made some people reconsider what urban spaces mean to them, their families and their careers. On one webinar in May 2020, a partner at McKinsey said that Covid has brought “work from home” forward by ten years, and many residents are making decisions whether living in cities is the best use of their time and economic resources. Is it time to leave Nairobi?

The Konza Technopolis Development Authority plans a city that the traverses three counties of Machakos, Kajiado and Makueni, with a 10 kilometer buffer-zone around it that encompasses 68,000 acres.  Today’s newspaper also mentions the plan by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services to rehabilitate and run a 75-kilometre railway line between Konza and Nairobi as one of the routes in their commuter rehabilitation project that will also improve access to the Konza Technopolis.

As Kenya needs even more planned cities, join a webinar with managers and experts on the future of smart cities, and the economic use of resources. Through this webinar, Konza aims to bring together key stakeholders in the urban management, design, planning, the environment, and policy to discuss these post-Covid issues. RSVP here.  

Antler Nairobi Demo Day

VC funder and startup accelerator Antler Global held a demonstration day yesterday in Nairobi where founders of four companies got to explain their practical solutions to existing challenges in the sectors of health, fintech, advertising and e-commerce.

The Singapore-founded Antler has offices in London, New York, Amsterdam and now Nairobi, among others. Antler aims to turn exceptional individuals into great company founders through networks of advisors and by providing funding to enable the building of strong teams to launch and scale ideas. They currently have a portfolio of 120 investee companies.

The four new ones in Nairobi are among fifteen companies that have received pre-seed funding of $100,000 from the Antler East Africa Fund. They are drawn from 1,250 individuals who applied to join the Nairobi program which started in August 2019. The Demo day talks were by:

  • AIfluence: an Artificial Intelligence-based platform that connects influencers with brands and measures the impact and ROI of their campaigns. The company has lined up additional funding and advertising deals with Tik Tok.
  • Anyi Health: Enable patients to apply for credit right at hospitals.
  • ChapChapGo: Aims to fix the broken supply chain of fast-moving consumer goods, in which 70% of trades are still informal – with these purchases happening in a 19thcentury system where people queue to buy, queue to pay and arrange their own delivery. The company aims to leverage on wholesalers through an app, and by using WhatsApp for customer service and sales, to deliver goods at prices that are up to 25% cheaper for consumers.
  • Digiduka: Enables kiosks and shops receiving cash from low-income buyers to also process digital payment on. Many kiosk merchants find mobile money payments too costly and make many trips a week to purchase goods and permits in cash. The company aims to have kiosks double their income by offering digital services that will see them earn 75% of the commission, with Digiduka keeping the 25%. The founders say that pilot has been viable, with a payback period for kiosk owners of one month.