1672731386 Kenya a new breeding ground for tech giants

Kenya, a new breeding ground for tech giants


Students use a digital tablet developed in 2015 by a Kenyan company in Nairobi. Students use a digital tablet developed by a Kenyan company in Nairobi in 2015. SIMON MAINA / AFP

It’s a new kind of private lesson, with touch screens and lines of code. It can take place on a Saturday morning, which also falls during the school holidays, but the children who take part don’t hesitate. But on the contrary. Elsie, 11, and her five classmates are programming an animated film. Next week they will learn how to create a mobile app to report domestic violence. Next they will produce a helicopter video game.

The workshop is the brainchild of STEM Impact, a digital lab and incubator like there are so many in Nairobi that teaches Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in primary schools. “I was the one who asked my parents to sign me up,” Elsie said, her eyes glued to the screen. I use the computer a little at school, but only for word processing. I wanted to know more. At home, the aspiring geek is learning French on her tablet.

Nicknamed “Silicon Savannah” because of its thriving technological ecosystem, Kenya now wants to rely on young talent like Elsie to compete internationally. As a vanguard, the government this year mandated learning the basics of computer coding in elementary schools in hopes of creating the high-tech breeding ground of tomorrow.

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“We want Kenya to be one of the countries from where you can telecommute in a professional way,” said President William Ruto at the Jamhuri Tech and Innovation Summit on December 11, 2022. The next day, on the occasion of On Jamhuri Day – the national holiday cleverly renamed Jamhuri Innovation this year to put the celebration in the spotlight of ICT – he exclaimed: “I’m impressed by the possibilities of digital monetization and remote working. It’s the future! »

Gafam’s African headquarters

How do you turn Silicon Savannah into an African Bangalore, a global technology park? Kenya is already developing into a high-tech success story. East Africa’s economic powerhouse is one of four countries (along with Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa) that receives nearly 90% of the continent’s technology investment. Even better: the big companies in the industry such as Google, Microsoft or Amazon have chosen Nairobi to set up their African headquarters there, with infrastructure and incubators in their suitcases.

Also read “Teaching code and algorithms is an investment in Africa’s future”

The African ‘startup nation’ didn’t wait for Gafam to invest in ‘tech’. Witness the early rise of M-Pesa, the microfinance and mobile payments system used by nearly 60% of Kenyans. Telecoms giant Safaricom is driving the country’s success and is expanding its services across the region. “We have a large digital workforce,” says Alex Magu, president of STEM Impact, which brings basic science and robotics to 500 schools across the country. Also, we are highly qualified and have no problem with English. »

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