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New Nairobi hub to ride on ICT solutions for development

President Kibaki and Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn (second left) listen to Prof Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, as he made a presentation on how smart water meters work during the launch of the Columbia Global Centres for Africa. Photo/DIANA NGILA
President Kibaki and Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn (second left) listen to Prof Jeffrey Sachs, the director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, as he made a presentation on how smart water meters work during the launch of the Columbia Global Centres for Africa at KICC January 14, 2013. On the left is Higher Education minister Margaret Kamar. Photo/DIANA NGILA  Nation Media Group

An international research and training institute has established a centre in Nairobi that seeks to bank on robust technology breakthroughs to solve some of Africa’s economic challenges.

Columbia University, through its newly-established hub — Columbia Global Centre for Africa — is seeking to ride on ICT solutions developed in Kenya to meet the region’s needs in agriculture, health, education, and environment.

Columbia’s Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs said Kenyans could be poorer in the next century with the population projected to reach 160 million people.

“East Africa is on a demographic course that is unsustainable. Unless we harness ICT rapidly and solve the problems we are experiencing, we might not be able to face off the challenges,” said Prof Sachs.

Columbia Global Centre is keen to integrate M-Pesa in the project.

The mobile phone money transfer platform has offered solutions to financial inclusion in Kenya and Africa. Among the solutions is a smart water dispensing system for use by vendors in slum areas, starting with Kibera.

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