iHub: Nairobi’s Tech Innovation Hub is Here!

iHub – Nairobi’s Innovation Hub for the technology community – is here! It’s an open space for the technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. This space is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers and designers. It is part open community workspace (co-working), part investor and VC hub and part incubator.

A number of us in the Nairobi tech community have been discussing the need for a physical nexus for the tech community here for a couple years, so it’s great to finally be so close to uncorking the bottles and celebrating a big step forward for all of us.

iHub opens on March 3, 2010!

Here’s a rough video of the iHub. A first-look at the space, before any design or wiring is done:

[Note: my apologies for the video quality, it was taken with my phone.]

Background and Info

The iHub will have a redundant 10Mbs connection, hardwired and WiFi, and it’s freely available to any tech person in Nairobi to use once they become members. Membership is free, our only requirement is that you are indeed involved in the tech space as a programmer, web designer or mobile application developer.

Data connectivity is the most important aspect of the iHub, but after that comes a fresh design and an atmosphere that is conducive to techies getting cool stuff done.

Finally, we’re putting our networks into place to give special access to the entrepreneurs and startups who need space to meet with VCs, seed funders and local businesses. We’re trying to create the place where seeds are planted and are easily found by the people with money to help them grow.

A Blank Canvas

The iHub is what we as a tech community make it. It is a blank canvas, a big open room with a great view and wonderful location, but still an empty room that needs some input from people within the community to design, and create a culture around.

What part are you going to play?

  • Want to have bragging rights on being the logo designer for the iHub? There’s $500 (38,000 Ksh) up for grabs at the iHub logo contest!
  • Have a penchant for design, want to help layout the floor plan, pick the wall colors or design the signage?
  • We’re wiring this place with the latest and best data connections in Kenya. Can you help us make sure the network is sound?
  • Good at creating intranets for fast and easy file sharing of 1gb+ downloads like the Android SDK? Want to help us build that?
  • Maybe you’ve got great business connections. Will you help us connect the iHub and the people in it to the business community?

iHub Location

The new iHub’s location is going to be on the 4th floor of the new Bishop Magua Centre on Ngong Road (directly opposite the Uchumi Hyper). It’s an amazing location, with quick access to public transportation, food and the rest of town.


View iHub – Nairobi’s Innovation Hub in a larger map

Community Involvement

I’ve been working closely with a couple of people from the community to find a place and get some basic items squared away. This advisory group is made up of individuals with a long standing presence in tech locally, including:

  • Riyaz Bachani, CTO of Wananchi
  • Josiah Mugambi, Co-Founder of Skunkworks
  • Rebeccah Wanjiku, Tech reporter and entrepreneur
  • Conrad Akunga, Blogger and Software Manager
  • Erik Hersman (me), Tech blogger, Founder of AfriGadget and co-Founder of Ushahidi

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of things still to be done, and we all need to band together in order to make this space what we hope it will become. Your ideas and drive will make the iHub into the space to be in all of East Africa for tech-related activities.

If you would like be involved, leave a comment below.

119 thoughts on “iHub: Nairobi’s Tech Innovation Hub is Here!

  1. Serem

    Great idea for briefcase programmers..it will go along way in promoting and enhancing their skills..

  2. HASH

    @Andrea – Ushahidi is covering the cost of this for the next 3 years. It’s our way to give back to the local dev community that has helped build Ushahidi.

  3. eebrah

    Loving the Idea, would love to know more and more than willing to help out.

    I cannot do design to save my life but more than willing to help out in just about any other way.

    This was a long time coming, lets hope it catches on

  4. Ben

    CONGRATS FROM AMSTERDAM!! A big step in the right direction. Look forward to attending the opening on the 3rd and to supporting entrepreneurs that emerge from these new walls.

  5. Jimmy Gitonga

    Hi Erik,
    Wow! You aren’t sleeping, eh? Thanks for this good work, it will not go unrewarded. Looking forward to visiting and I hope we will use it to its fullest.

  6. JScarantino

    This is great news Erik! Very encouraging for the future of tech in Nairobi.

    Also, on a side note, it’s great timing for the beta launch of African Tech Network, which I will be sending to you and some colleagues for private beta testing in March/April.

  7. Kasomo Martin

    A center for ideas and innovation. Techprenueur’s dream house, wonderful idea! Would love to be involved…

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  9. jke

    Excellent location + great view. I also love that free data connection which will def. attract lots of great talents.

    This is such a wonderful idea – thx to the sponsors of Ushahidi who have enabled this.

    Count me in for anything I can do from abroad.

  10. Clem

    hey I stumbled upon this site while watching Cup of Nations online,, oh well, I’m a networks person for Australia’s 3rd largest ISP, I’m happy to help anyone in need of it (where I can). My email has been supplied, I will be in Kenya for 1 week in feb 2010.

  11. Jepchumba

    Definitely would like to be involved. I will post about this on ADA and ask if there would be any designers interested. Would love to volunteer and help out as much as I can.

  12. kiwanja

    Fantastic news, and the biggest of congratulations to everyone involved! The potential for this is huge, and I can’t wait to pop in next time I’m in Kenya. :)

  13. HeatherLaGarde

    This is just fanstastic – congratulations! What a great idea and what wonderful reciprocity via Ushahidi – so exciting – I can’t wait to hear about the ideas and innovation generated there!

  14. Joshua Goggans

    this is very exciting and the exact type of initiative that will give momentum to kenya’s forward movement in the tech sector. I can’t wait to stop by next time in nairobi!

  15. Pingback: iHub is Nairobi’s Tech Innovation Hub | Afrinnovator.com

  16. Soud Hyder

    Thumbs up. Looking forward to join the bandwagon. BTW there’s some multimedia skill out there as well, was with Mark Kaigwa (mkaigwa) earlier on today discussing some of the local talent, it’ll be good if iHub can tap into that as well.

  17. HASH

    Wow, we thought this was exciting too, so it’s encouraging to see how much everyone else is into it too.

    Reminder: the iHub is only as good as what we all make of it as a community. We’ll have a meeting next week for everyone to chime in on it and get some things started.

  18. Ryan

    Erik,

    Well done! The place is great and I’m excited to see what transpires there over the next three years!

    Are non-techies allowed to join you on March 3rd? (I do own a mobiel phone!)

  19. Africa Gathering

    Congratulations on this, Erik – which side of the office did you go for in the end? Do let us know how Africa Gathering can support you – we’d love to show case some of the project at the event in Nairobi in December 2010.

  20. David P

    Erik,

    I met you at the beginning of December in Java House at Sarit. Very excited to see this going forward. Kudos. I don’t live in Nairobi, but I’d love to stop by whenever I’m visiting town.

    –David

  21. migx

    what about non geeks like me looking for innovative applications to help run their small business?can we benefit?if so how?

  22. Wayan

    My earlier comment may have been lost, but congrats, Eric! Innovation centers like this are sorely needed in Nairobi and all across Africa. I hope you’re blessed with copycats for your success.

    Over in San Francisco, Inveneo is doinging something similar for the social enterprise set: with mission*social.

  23. Alberto Masetti-Zannini

    Great idea, great location. But why do it alone in a world that is increasingly connected and is built on the power of networks? Join The Hub global community (www.the-hub.net), we even (almost) share your name and you won’t even have to worry about the logo, we’ll give it to you!! ;-)

  24. Amos Gichamba

    Wow…what a great meeting point for the techies! Am sure it will be a career improvement breeding ground. Looking forward!

  25. Anthony Njoroge

    Well in. I’m down!!! Question is will it be open for learning institutions to learn from developers?

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  27. Kelvin

    Wow, this is just what Nairobi needs. I’m going to put this up on our site right away to see if we can help get more people interested/help out.

    How else can we help?

    Congrats and thank you for this!

  28. izzak

    Wow! this is really cool n brilliant idea. what if u aint a computer dude can u get involved or become a member?

  29. Kenyan Freelancer

    Though not a techie myself, my work relies heavily on technology. And having an area where one can find and pick the brains of the best in this world sounds like something to celebrate. Congrats and a bouquet of flowers are thrown your way!

  30. James Muendo

    I would surely love to get involved especially in connecting it to the business community. I also have a good business idea that can work in such a place.When do we begin?

  31. Robert Yawe

    I would like to offer my services to iHub;

    # We’re wiring this place with the latest and best data connections in Kenya. Can you help us make sure the network is sound?

    # Maybe you’ve got great business connections. Will you help us connect the iHub and the people in it to the business community?

    I would also be willing to provide mentoring support to your incubate es.

  32. Lee Mungai

    For starts Nairobi real time traffic mobile/web app should be engineered in this building, please count me in to be involved

  33. Nana Kwabena Owusu

    Wow!! Congratulations. iHub is sure to foster more collaboration between all the techies in and around its location. I especially love the involvement in even the physical layout and design.

    Question: Why aren’t media and content creators (aka Bloggers) included in membership? Does that make the membership group too broad?

  34. niti bhan

    Hi there Hash, congratulations!

    Let me know if there’s anything I can do from here to enable your vision?

  35. Josiah

    Question: Why aren’t media and content creators (aka Bloggers) included in membership? Does that make the membership group too broad?

    I don’t think we’d mind having tech bloggers… :)

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  40. Kibe wachira

    just heard Dr Ndemo talk about ihub and it is a good thing that the government is taking part in this while still preparation for the malili technopolis project and the sameer ict park

  41. antony m

    this is what we have been waiting for
    now we have a fighting chance against the rest of the world in the IT race
    together as developers we can achieve the unimaginable
    Congrats to Erik and team

  42. Rafiki

    This is great!
    One question: what about coffee @ iHub? Will it be there? If yes, which brand? We need excellent coffee to keep our minds focused, no? Maybe it could even generate some income for iHub.

  43. Joseph Waruingi

    Hi Erik,
    This is a good initiative and a good precursor and satellite for Malili Technopolis. The best thing to happen to our budding and talented software developers.

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  45. Ron - copy

    Finally a development that doesn’t ask startups for a Ksh 5 million “commitment fee”.
    I wonder what’ll come out of it…only time will tell.

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  47. Tony

    Great Idea Erik, This has a lot of potential to create opportunities for many young talented individuals in Kenya. I would like to assist in any way possible, I am currently in the US bt I am following this closely.I have followed your blog over the last few weeks and u have a great eye for Kenya Tech! I hope to work with you in the near future.

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  49. Tonee Ndungu

    Dude..din’t I tell you I would be chasing you? Well guess who your new neighbor is .. Congratulations though…Sensei!

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  51. Musau Joshua

    Hey Erik Hersman,
    I’m still pinching myself, please tell me am not dreaming. You should see my face, I cannot believe it… It’s all I have ever dreamt of, an innovation hub for geeks like us… right here in Kenya. Erik for president. I want in!!! Please let me know how I can participate… cheers. U the bomb.

  52. nicholas rukaria

    A dream come true, Would love the opportunity to get involved, in anything if not everything.

  53. Hala

    Excellent! this is exactly what we have been searching for, eagerly looking forward to meeting you guys and throwing some ideas around.

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  55. RobMugambi

    Great idea man!! Really looking forward to helping out in whatever way I can. Just one issue…could we find a more Kao-friendly name for it :-D

  56. Henry Thairu

    This is the real path for Innovation and enterprise. Inoorero University , the enterprise University of Kenya supports this humble beginnings of the future we want. We would like our innovative students to be involved.
    Vice Chancellor

  57. David Otieno

    I just saw the iHub thingy on K24 I must admit this is just an awesome and brilliant idea for all the techies and computer freaks out there.
    I am more than willing to help in any way I can, as I’m an ICT enthusiast with a solid management and experience in installing, configuring and troubleshooting both hardware and software.
    I have a passion for this profession through hands on experience.

    again, this is just awesome

  58. cdohnio

    This place sounds amazing! And I want in! But I’m still kinda young,both in terms of programming and age. How do I join and contribute?

  59. Chris Murage

    ..I missed the launch today. But its an initiative that’s long overdue. I look forward to getting involved and spreading the word. Well in.

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  61. Muadh Fawzi

    Hey guys, great idea in place. Cant wait to see this project running and growing. As a networking student i am really pleased to see that Kenya is now waking up to the digital world which is now a big wide network where by if you are not connected, you are not corrected :)

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  63. ernest

    this is great i would like to join and sharpen my skills im not that good in programming and websites but i have clues in both how can i join

  64. sila kegode

    We’re wiring this place with the latest and best data connections in Kenya. Can you help us make sure the network is sound? yes i would appreciate that work

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