Since its founding over a year ago, *iHub_ has
changed the Nairobi IT scene completely. The
place is full of developers, creatives and VC’s
looking to form partnerships and transform the
local IT scene. Partnerships have been formed,
deals have been struck, and the place is abuzz
with new ideas all the time.
Since its inception, *iHub_ has been focused on
software development (Specifically on mobile and
apps) and this has been a huge success. *iHub_ is
now looking to replicate this success to the
computer hardware sphere, and more specifically
You may ask, why robots? Well, it depends how
you look at robots. Most people think about
robots as the ones seen in the Transformer
movie. But no, robots are actually more simple
that that. Any device that uses a computer chip to
perform a task is considered a robot. Just to give
some examples, traffic lights are a form of robots
(Actually in South Africa, traffic lights are called
ROBOTS). Another example is a digital power
meter. It may not look like a computer, but the
chip in the meter qualifies it as a robot. A personal
computer is also a type of robot, albeit one that
needs human interaction to function. More
familiar examples may be the extra-terrestrial
vehicles on Mars or satellites in space.
Where does *iHub_ come in, and why is *iHub_
getting into robots? This question is best
answered by looking where the
telecommunication industry is headed. M-PESA is
widely recognized as having a trans-formative
impact in Kenya. It solved a need many people
had and it solved it in a very simple and efficient
One of the key things about M-PESA is that it is a
software solution that runs on a mobile platform.
By combining hardware and mobile, we take the
mobile revolution to the next phase. Also, due to
the fact that the backbone of the Kenyan
economy is agriculture, farmers interact with
farm machines and equipment on a daily basis.
By combining these two together, we approach
A few examples could be ‘smart farms’ that alert
rice farmers when their water reaches a certain
level, to prevent over irrigation, or a device that
milks cows daily and sends farmers text
messages about how many litres their cows
have collected. These solutions will result from an
interaction of hardware with the mobile platform.
This is what the *iHub_ robot initiative hopes to
achieve. By fostering programmers with a
hardware and mobile background, we can come
up with solutions that could have a
transformative impact in Kenya and beyond.
Over the next few months, *iHub_ hopes to
increase and develop hardware programming
talent to come up with solutions that will
hopefully have as big an impact as M-PESA.
Caine K. Wanjau for *iHub_ Nairobi.