In what seems like a validation of the growing technology community in Nairobi, Kenya, the Chairman and former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt has suggested that the East African country may become the Silicon Valley of Africa. Mr. Schmidt said this after a week’s visit to sub-Saharan Africa that included meetings in Lagos and Nairobi.
“Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader, “Schmidt said on his Google+ post.
He added that “A combination of relatively stable politics, the British legal system, and a benign climate seem to attract a significant share of foreign investment. Incubators are hosting potential solutions to many problems, including connecting M-Pesa (their mobile money solution on simple phones using SMS) with payment systems for local stores. If they manage to get through the upcoming March elections without significant conflict, they will grow quickly.”
During his visit, the Google boss made a tour of Kenya’s first innovation hub, the iHub, hung out with the techies, visited some of the startups there and gave a presentation at Strathmore University about the importance of education to enable young people solve the world’s most challenging problems.
Since its inception, Google has been one of iHub’s major partners, collaborating in projects, working with the tech community and funding the expansion of the iHub space, and in recent times, the build out of the UX Lab and the iHub Cluster.
The iHub has also hosted Google-related events such as Ladies Mapping parties, Trainings on Google Earth, Fireside Chats with Marissa Mayer, Office Hours with Bob Aman as well as Hackathons.
the Google boss further added, “The Internet in Africa will be primarily a mobile one.” “Information is power, and more information means more choices.”
“The demographic dividend in Africa of young people is their greatest hope, in my opinion. Today high rates of unemployment show an economy underperforming to its true potential. This new generation expects more, and will use mobile computing to get it. Optimism is appropriate for Africa, as the people we met will do much more with less than we can imagine, and the devices and systems built in the first world will be used in the most creative ways in the emerging new world of Africa,” Schmidt added.