A new age is about to dawn for mobile innovation in Africa as a consortium consisting of iHub, eMobilis, the World Wide Web Foundation and The University of Nairobi School of Computing and Informatics, was chosen to host a regional mobile applications lab in East Africa. The bid was awarded by infoDev:
infoDev is a global development financing program among international development agencies, coordinated and served by an expert Secretariat housed in the Global ICT Department (GICT) of the World Bank, one of its key donors and founders. It acts as a neutral convener of dialogue, and as a coordinator of joint action among bilateral and multilateral donors—supporting global sharing of information on ICT for development (ICT4D), and helping to reduce duplication of efforts and investments. infoDev also forms partnerships with public and private-sector organizations who are innovators in the field of ICT4D. Priorities and strategies for infoDev are guided by its governance framework.
According to the announcement on the ihub blog:
Each lab will be a platform for building the technical skills, business nous and personal relationships needed to build scalable mobile solutions into thriving businesses that address social needs. As well as providing state of the art equipment, the labs will offer technical training and workshops and connect developers and entrepreneurs with potential investors, academic experts, and even public sector leaders.
The *iHub is Nairobi’s Innovation Hub which is an enabler and catalyst within the technology community. With the consortium comprising eMobilis, the University of Nairobi and the Web Foundation we seek to encourage open-innovation within the tech community.
Jessica Colaço, manager of the *iHub , said; “iHub is the nucleus of what is already a vibrant technology community that lives and breathes open innovation. We work with everyone, sharing information, sparking ideas off one another to make enterprises more innovative and help technological innovators build businesses with entrepreneurs.”
Yet another consortium won the bid for a similar initiative in South Africa:
In South Africa, the consortium of the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Innovation Hub, Innovation Lab and Ungana-Afrika already boast wide and deep relationships in business, the public sector, civil society and academia. With many successful projects already delivered in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Meraka consortium brings together technology innovators every key sector across the region.
This is an amazing development and a promising one for mobile applications development in Africa. It is widely considered that mobile is the technology for Africa having been widely adopted in many cultures and communities with great ease. These labs could be the fueling agent that will see mobile take that next big leap forward in Africa through research and development and the establishment of startups focusing on developing apps not just for the demand on the continent but also for global markets!