Nairobi has been a cradle for innovation in Kenya, which contributes greatly to the growing tech ecosystem famously known as Silicon Savannah. This tech ecosystem has turned Nairobi in a favorite spot for investors and technologists. Most of the significant innovations in Kenya these days can be found via Nairobi’s startup incubator centers and accelerators.
Kenya is experiencing high economic growth mainly because of innovations as a result of the iHub that was established in 2010. Since then, tech hubs have been sprouting at a significant rate in Kenya’s major cities. Some of these tech hubs include Swahilibox in Mombasa, Lakehub in Kisumu, Dlab Hub in Eldoret, Sote Hub in Voi, Ubunifu in Machakos and Mt. Kenya Hub in Nyeri.
These iHubs are working independently while others are working in partnership with academic institutions. But most importantly, that are all focused on supporting entrepreneurs in the technology, creative and cultural niche.
Moving Tech Hubs to Smaller Towns
Due to its rich endowment in resources, capital city Nairobi is notably the best commercial center possible in Kenya. However, it is also an expensive city for the youth to live in, while the market is also saturated. In order make tech hubs more accessible to people, they have been moving to secondary towns as well. One of the tech hubs that recently moved from Nairobi is SwahiliBox in Mombasa.
How Tech Hubs are Accelerating Economic Growth
Prosperity, innovation and growth are important factors when it comes to determining the growth of an economy. This is because investors focus on these factors to determine where they can invest. Therefore, tech hubs are playing a key role in accelerating Kenya’s economic growth. The following are ways in which tech hubs are promoting economic growth.
1. Creating Direct Jobs
The ICT sector plays a vital role in the growth of a country’s economic growth. Tech hubs are creating jobs in Kenya with the evolution of high tech industries, employing thousands of youths.
The industries are also widening products and services, thereby creating wider markets. This promotes entrepreneurship and citizens become self employed instead of waiting to be employed.
Also, Kenyan government is getting broader sources of revenue through taxation leading to better education, healthcare and economic growth.
2. The emergence of services and industries
Tech hubs in Kenya are widening the range of services and industries. This is primarily because of innovation leading to the creation of services through mobile phones and cloud computing. ICT has led to the emergence of the app industry. For instance, Facebook created jobs for many youths while also developing a medium of business advertisement. When people get employed and services increase, more income is generated.
3. Business Innovation
More than 95% of successful businesses do online advertisement. The internet provides ways of reaching customers and competing for market share. Social media is notably the leading marketing tool in Kenya since it can reach a broader market. Social media help businesses to come up with new ways of doing business, thereby improving efficiency.
4. Transforming the Workforce
Online companies such as Upwork and Amazon create online jobs for Kenyan youths. With the high number of unemployed Kenyan youth, taking up roles and tasks that are outsourced through the internet has created jobs for thousands of youths. Therefore, tech hubs are transforming the workforce and moving work from one country to another. These jobs offer Kenyans jobs that transform the economy since citizens can work for themselves.
5. Contributing to the Growth in GDP
Tech hubs are contributing significantly to the Kenyan GDP. With innovation, people are selling their ideas to other countries and reaping a lot. In Kenya, many e-commerce companies are emerging as a result of tech hubs. These e-commerce companies make use of the internet which is contributing to the growth in GDP. With the high demand for internet due to e-commerce, Kenya is making progress to becoming a developed country. It is also leading to the innovation of different ways of doing businesses, thereby promoting entrepreneurs.
Silicon Savannah and Kenya’s ICT Future
It is no doubt that tech hubs should be encouraged and the Kenyan Government should continue investing heavily in them. They are leading to the creation of a pool of professionals in the ICT field and entrepreneurship. Also, higher institutions of learning should invest in tech hubs to promote more ideas and innovation.
Vincent is an experienced journalist from Kenya as well as a statistician. He has a degree in Applied Statistics with computing from the University of Eldoret.