The Nairobi Innovation week (NIW), an annual event on its fifth year running, was on Wednesday 12th June 2019, officially opened at the Taifa Hall of the University of Nairobi by the Cabinet Secretary for Information and Communication Technology, H.E Joe Mucheru. The whole week event that hosts a beehive of events inside the university grounds, was started on Monday and will run through Friday.
Themed to Innovate Kenya into its Big Four Agenda, the Runaway success as the event was referred to by one Ratansi Vijoo, the Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, was graced by different dignitaries from within and outside of the country drawing together about 75 different innovation projects from the youth aimed to provide solutions for day to day challenges.
In attendance was the ambassador of Finland, H.E Erick Lundberg, who commended the brilliance in the Nairobi Innovation Week, an activity for which he vowed to help see to its success even going forward. Finland as he noted, has always partnered with other stakeholders together with the UoN to host this mind blowing event that is envisioned to be a source of income and self-employment among youths in Sub-Saharan Africa especially Kenya where the problem of youth unemployment has continued being perennial.
Professor Peter Mbithi M.F, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi also UoN, who presided over the June 12, 2019 event, called Kenya the Happiest and Most Optimistic country in the world urging UoN students and all students pursuing high levels of education to embrace innovations that would then make his debut for Kenya a reality.
Professor Mbithi commended the innovative ideas that had flocked the university during the Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) 2019, likening it with the past Slash program that attracted over 35000 participants from across the world, even challenging learners to make NIW the African version of what Slash is to the globe.
Dr. Ratansi Vijoo took great pride in Kenya for having made the first 3D printers from recycled materials. She pointed out that Nairobi would soon become a true regional innovation hub if only more vibrant and sustainable ideas that would solve societal problems would be nurtured among the youth in Kenya.
“Tap into Nairobi Silicon Savanna to make Kenya the Gold Standard for creativity and innovation,” adding, Innovation has become synonymous to business relevance today so only those who continually thrive can survive.”
The CS for Education and an alumnus of the University, professor George Magoha also graced the Wednesday game changer charging his intention to making the education system thrive in the country. Magoha who expressed outright displeasure in Kenyan educators, challenged the University teaching staff to bring back honor to university education as was formerly known for extensive research and viable recommendations into the several day to day challenges faced in Kenya, even to aid in the achievement of the #Big4Agenda.
“Help President Uhuru leave a measurable result as a center of higher learning and innovation hub.” Prof Magoha
Magoha pointed out not only to the water problem in the country urging the UoN fraternity to undertake extensive research into its acute shortage but also challenged the Vice Chancellor of the University to consolidate the many UoN campuses into one strong University just like the Havard.
He emphasized on fostering innovation among learners as an enabler and trajectory to making them holistic and rounded in all ways as to either become employers or employees but not dependent on the latter.
Joe Mucheru, the chief guest of the day conveyed his discontent in the manner the Kenyan media reports news or rather what news they report. He noted that the media largely dwells on the sad and rather discouraging news that may not necessarily encourage innovative ideas among the upcoming generation.
Mucheru who hinted that the government had created a fund for encouraging such innovations, called on the media to cease reporting only the sad news but also the innovative and creative ideas like the NIW2019 projects to encourage more minds into innovations for problem solving.
He alluded to the Oxford University survey that reported Kenya as the fast of African countries to have heeded to calls to embrace AI technology. He said that such technologies require lots of research that can be facilitated at the university levels especially UoN owing its stratum.
He winded up by enlightening young innovators about intellectual property protection and patenting, mentioning the White Box, that helps fund, list and protect as well as patent innovations even at ideation stage.
Done with Taifa Hall and into the booths was a life of startups, all with brilliant ideas and solutions to different problems.
At a hydroponic farming expo, farming was shown even without the availability of land and therefore soil.
A group of youths, passionate about farming for food productions wished to engage more youths into the farming idea but knew all too well that the 21st Century youth likes convenience and may not buy the idea of going to shamba soiling their tender palms. They also knew that land ownership or just soil convenience are big drawbacks in Kenya. Their idea of farming would then incorporate no soil and very little water.
The Hydroponic Technology of farming utilizes porous rocks and perforated plastic tins. It saves on space (need for land) and water as the excess is released through the perforations and reused for other crops.
Elsewhere, the woman’s world is Bloody Awesome as one menstruation cups company’s slogan reads.
Dubbed Lunette menstrual cups, the company manufactures cups from medical silicone as a long time solution to menstruation. The cups, a sub for sanitary pads and or tampons, they say can be used for up to ten years without much degradation.
The cups are made of medically tested and proven materials that does not react to the woman anatomy and so can be inserted anytime during the blood cycle.
It is cheap compared to single time use solutions and have not hitherto shown any adverse side effects to the millions of women who have used it since inception in 2005.
The company bases in Finland whence the cups are manufactured.