Kenya lags ‘Silicon Savannah’ goals as hub of innovation


The data centre at Konza Technopolis in this picture taken on March 29, 2021. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

The technology adoption lifecycle is a well-known and referenced sociological model that maps out the spread of a new product, service, or innovation across a market.

The classification spectrum covers cohort identified as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late, and laggards, each with their unique characteristics and mannerisms.

For a country that constantly pitches itself as the home to innovation, peddling the moniker ‘The Silicon Savannah’, it is clear that we are not all aligned on the possibilities that that spirit embodies and that we should pursue fervently.

Seek forgiveness

We often quip that innovation moves faster than legislation and that it is better to seek forgiveness and not permission, but fail to, in the same breath acknowledge that we do not have the luxury of a dalliance with the ogres of regulation that seek to maintain the status quo when traditional moats and ways of work come under threat by different thinking and technologies.

Things move fast and slow in the world of tech and it is important that we deliberately install responsive and agile leadership at every regulatory body. The key deliverable for such persons given due resources and ‘free-hand’ would be to drive disruptive innovation from within, leading the charge and creating a safe passage or haven for innovators to thrive.

We are missing out on key opportunities for wealth creation for our people and collective national coffers as the song on ‘enabling environments’ goes out of tune.

Our African peers and the rest of the world are moving swiftly, mopping up the benefits afforded by ‘newish’ technologies applied across different sectors.

Mass market

I say ‘newish’ because, when the value of something becomes apparent to the mass market, the underlying frameworks have probably been in place for a few years, decades even, getting refined with early critical investments already made.

That is the slow part after which things move at a dizzying speed with massive creation and extraction of value.

The wealth effect then comes into play, driving consumption, which in turn lifts the economy by increasing the velocity of money within markets.

Hindsight is 20/20 and we cannot afford to sit by and watch as the rest of the world blazes ahead often using our backyard to incubate concepts, that once stifled, find a new base from which they thrive. Our place in history should not be as enablers only.

We must ensure that we partake of the value we create and have a nascent creative capital.

Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Sure Corporation | | @mbuguanjihia