In 2008 a couple of tech guys sitting around a table after Barcamp Nairobi first discussed the idea that eventually would become the iHub. In January 2010 there was another group, this time of people trying to setup their own labs, hubs and coworking environments in other countries across the continent.
It was there that the idea for Afrilabs was born: an association of these facilities across the continent. The association is for linking the spaces for learning, growth, and to provide greater mass for the entrepreneurs that we work with.
The labs serve as an accessible platform for bringing together technologists, investors, tech companies and hackers in the area. Each lab shares a focus on young entrepreneurs, Web and mobile-phone programmers and designers.
Spaces and Models
The founding 5 member facilities are the iHub in Kenya, ActivSpaces in Cameroon, Hive Colab in Uganda, Nailab in Kenya and Banta Labs in Senegal.
There aren’t many spaces like this across Africa, and there were even fewer a year ago, though we hope that more will quickly be added from many other countries. Already we’re hearing about new spaces popping up in Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, with planned ones in Tanzania and Ghana.
We’re all experimenting with our models. Some are pure coworking, some incubators, others provide freelancers a chance to act as a collective agency, while some serve as a community commons where tech serendipity happens. My take is that we’ll end up having as many models as the unique city cultures that spawn them, mixed in with the ethos of the founders. And there’s room for many more, even in the same city.
The Afrilabs Association serves a few purposes:
- Provide an association that is easily accessible by lab and hub managers, where they can learn from their peers, understand the different models and connect easily.
- Provide a bigger target (continent vs country) for attracting outside investors for the entrepreneurs in the labs. Possibly with an Afrilabs fund, accessible only through the filter of an entrepreneur’s local lab.
- AfriLabs seeks to build on this common vision and further promote the growth and development of the African technology sector.
I’m excited to see the dawn of this new open and accessible model of coworking, incubation and community spaces for Africa’s tech industry. Not only will the labs receive greater visibility, but businesses and investors now have a channel to more easily source talent and investments within Africa’s tech community.
If you run a tech lab or hub in Africa, or are putting together one, make sure you contact Afrilabs.
February 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm
small typo on the ActivSpaces url (.clm instead of .com)
February 7, 2011 at 8:50 am
CALL FOR ICT4D RESEARCH SCHOOLARSHIP OPENED
CTIC Foundation has opened a new Call for ICT4D Research Schoolarship. This call is intended to grant 5 scholarships for research in ICT for Development, ICT4D onwards, allowing 5 ideas to promote ICT4D presented by 5 persons residents in Africa in any of the following countries: Ethiopia, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Senegal.
The source of funds enabling the provision of these 5 scholarships comes from funding from the Spanish Agency for Development and the United Nations â€“ Economic Commission for Africa in collaboration with the University of Oviedo.
CREATIC4AFRICA launches a call for ideas in which a product or process based on Information and Communication Technologies will help to address problems that reduce the Social and Economic Development of Ethiopia, Mozambique, Senegal, Cape Verde and Angola.
Those persons willing to participate and present their idea must take into consideration following premises:
â€• Candidates must be from Africa and live in one of these countries: Ethiopia, Mozambique, Senegal, Cape Verde and Angola.
â€• Candidates must have an ICT based innovative idea, which can solve a social or economic need or problem in your community.
â€• Candidates must have university or technological expertise or proven experience in technology development.
It will be highly appreciated if candidates are already working or collaborating with an institution, organization or entity, which has both interest in and the capacity to implement the idea after its technological development, once the scholarship is over.
CTIC Foundation will help to develop these ideas! The authors of the 5 selected ideas may develop their idea in the CREATIC4AFRICA Innovation Lab, where a team of professionals will accompany these 5 persons selected through a process of individualized coaching and advise them, so that each product or process can contribute to the development of their community as effectively as possible.
To this end, each of these individuals will receive a grant of 1050 â‚¬ per month to develop their idea for a maximum period of 9 months in CREATIC4AFRICA System in GijÃ³n (Asturias, Spain). The journey between the country of origin and Asturias will be founded by the project.
The deadline for applications is 30th March 2011.
You will find more information at: http://creatic4africa.fundacionctic.org/ and
February 7, 2011 at 9:49 am
@Chris – thanks, fixed.
February 12, 2011 at 6:23 am
Ethiopian innovation hub “ice” coming up VERY soon …