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@iLabAfrica partners with VMware International Ltd to Enhance Digital Skills in Africa

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Today at the Innovating Education In Africa Expo 2019, held in Botswana VMware international Ltd announced the expansion of the VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa programme.

As part of its expansion, VMware announced a Memorandum of Understanding between VMware International Ltd and Strathmore University – @iLabAfrica Centre, Kenya.

The overarching goal is to empower the fast-growing, young African population to enter the digital workforce with confidence and expertise, helping to address the skills gap and
supporting innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.
Through the VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa programme, we are collaborating with key stakeholders across academia, government and industry to equip African students with the technical skills and certifications required to succeed in the digital economy.
Strathmore University in Kenya has built an international reputation for its world-class
academic teaching, professional training, and research in technology. Working with VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa, the University has already begun integrating a range of VMware developed courses into its curricula that cover topics such as virtualisation, cloud computing, AI and IoT. This is facilitated through subsidised software licenses and certification vouchers from VMware.
@iLabAfrica, a Centre of Excellence in Research and Innovation in Information
Communication Technology at the University, is spearheading the rollout with 20 trainers and over 100 students at the University participating. The students will benefit from access to high-quality learning online resources, hands-on lab experiences to develop technical skills, and the opportunity to achieve industry-recognised VMware certification to complement their chosen fields of study.

“We are delighted to be part of VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa. It provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain technical skills and industry-recognised VMware certifications, helping to jumpstart their careers with the best knowledge and skills of international standards. Our shared goal with VMware is to become the VMware IT Academy regional lead for East Africa, training lecturers and students from Strathmore and other universities plus facilitating their participation in the programme. Increased access to this type of education and training for students is a critical part of Africa realising the potential of its youth and a prosperous Africa,” said Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University.
“Skills development is recognised as a key component for economic growth and prosperity.VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa helps educational institutions align curricula with the skills needed for the labour market, thereby building the right talent for Africa’s jobs of today and tomorrow. . Our discussions to form a strategic collaboration with Strathmore University is a significant milestone in this program, and will bring new skills and opportunities to its students, and in the future to many more young people in East Africa,”said Thomas MacKay, Senior Director for Global Strategic Programs, VMware.

2019 Strathmore Leaders in Research and Innovation

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Award

@iLabAfrica Research and Innovation Centre was this year crowned leading department in research and reporting.

The Centre which spearheads Research and Innovation in Information Communication Technology for the development (ICT4D) of ecosystems towards the attainment of the United Nations sustainable Development goals (SDGs) and Kenya’s Vision 2030, was awarded the Strathmore University Research and Innovation award 2019 for demonstrating significant commitment to timeliness and quality in its reporting obligations on research activities for the year 2018 and 2019.

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@iLabAfrica Centre focuses on 4 main areas.

  • ICT research and Innovation
  • Entrepreneurship and Incubation
  • ICT Outsourcing
  • ICT Policy and Research

The Centre is involved in interdisciplinary research, student engagement and collaboration with government, industry and funding agencies.

@iLabAfrica is made up of the following research units

  • eHealth Unit
  • Cybersecurity Unit
  • Digital Learning Unit
  • Data Science Unit
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Unit
  • Outsourcing and Consulting Unit

For more information about @iLabAfrica Click Here 

 

 

 

 

THREE WINNERS UNVEILED DURING THE SHELTER TECH NAIROBI INNOVATION WEEK COMPETITION.

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Shelter Tech

@iBizAfrica- Strathmore University and Pangea Accelerator partnered with Shelter Tech Kenya, a first of its kind in Africa, is a six-month milestone-based accelerator program supporting early stage businesses and scale-ups in the affordable housing sector covering: renewable energy, waste management, housing & construction technologies and products and water & sanitation. The program is supported by Habitat for Humanity International’s Terwilliger Centre for Innovation in Shelter and implemented by BDO EA and Pangea Accelerator in partnership with @iBizAfrica, Strathmore University. These partners came together to organize a startup competition which aims to support disruptive innovation and provide a platform for growth in the urban tech space as part of the Nairobi Innovation Week 2019.

The Shelter Tech Nairobi Innovation Week competition was held on 11th of June at Metta. The competition had attracted 61 applicants. Three business start-ups were declared winners out of the ten that pitched their products and business concepts before a panel of four judges.

The three winners of the competition got an all paid opportunity to travel and pitch at Oslo Innovation Week with a goal of finding sponsors and funds to increase the size and outreach of their company as well as having a platform to gain new markets and experience in the business’ world of competition.

Present during the event was the Norwegian Ambassador to Kenya, Elin Bergithe Rognlie who acknowledged how technology has changed the way we do things and the increased role of women in creating tech-based business startups. Also present were representatives from Strathmore University, ICT Norway, Pangea Accelerator and Habitat for Humanity among others.

The three startups will have a chance to pitch at the Oslo Innovation Week in Norway later in the year.

 

The business startups that won included:

Arigiene Limited Company;

Arigiene Limited Company;

The founders, Anna Kadari is a second year Economics student at Kenyatta University and her co-founder Frank Mwakitakula is a fourth year Economic Finance Student at the same University. Their product solves the problem of toilet bowl and water splash back while also serving other purposes including absorbing bad odours and acts as a toilet freshener.

Gjenge Makers Limited

Gjenge Makers Limited

Gjenga Makers Ltd is a social enterprise based in industrial area recycling waste plastic into strong and artistically expressed construction products including paving bricks, paving tiles and hatches.

Escon Leather Creations

Escon Leather Creations

This startup company was founded by Victor Nzau, a Diploma Graduate from Animal Health and Industry Training Institute in Kabete, Nairobi.

Escon Leather Creations manages waste and discarded low grade hides and skins which are pollutants to the environment. As a value addition, they use vegetable tanning processes that are environmental friendly.

 

 

 

 

iLabAfrica team emerges 2nd Place in UN Habitat Makerthon Competition

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UN-Habitat this year organized a Makerthon event on the sidelines of the UN-Habitat Assembly held on 27th -31st May 2019 at the UN- Habitat Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya giving budding innovators a platform to make, create and showcase their innovations.

The theme of the challenge, organized by Urban Basic Services, was “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities”.

Three Strathmore students, Stephen Gitahi- Group leader, Ayan Adan Keynan and Josemaria Nabangi formed the group SAJ fellows to participate in the Makerthon and emerged 2nd place with their project on Water Qualiter.

The water Qualiter project is under the Internet of Things(IoT) department, @iLabAfrica and is developed using different sensors for measuring Acidity (pH), Temperature and Turbidity (measure of suspended particles and Contaminants – especially heavy metals & discarded pharmaceuticals. Insights from the data generated from this monitoring exercise will therefore be critical in aiding on decision making of which rehabilitation or pollution control measures need to be undertaken.

The one-week challenge allowed participants such as IoT engineers, makers and designers passionate about harnessing digital connectivity to solve urban challenges in their cities and settlements. Participants were to compete and develop a prototype to solve a specific challenge out of the three urban “verticals” including:

Water Quality Monitoring A Smart drinking water quality monitoring system for households could use sensors placed in household water pipes or water storage containers for households using public standpoints. The data collected using standard water quality parameters could then be uploaded over the internet for analysis. When there is a deviation of water quality parameters from the pre-defined set of standard values, an sms-based alert could be generated by the system to warn consumers to further treat their water before drinking. The monitoring system could also be scaled up by the water utility through a centralized dashboard to regularly assess the quality of drinking water supplied to consumers.

Indoor Air Quality IoT can be used to monitor the air quality through the use of Air Quality Sensors that could be placed in either indoor setups such as kitchens or outdoor (e.g city streets, parks).The monitoring process may utilize a cloud solution to show the air quality through an AQI (Air Quality Index) measurements. Results are sent to users, decision makers and dedicated experts for appropriate actions.

Public Mobility Members of the public most often want to know when and where their Matatu is on the roads, a “Real-Time Passenger Information System” can help them plan their commute and time better with more real time information. Such a system could use sensors to know the Location of a public bus and produce a “Digital Map” to graphically show the location. A “Smart Ticketing” system may also work in tandem with such a system.

The participants underwent an intensive competition to build the minimum viable product and come up with a sustainable business and operating model to scale the solutions and present their elevator pitches at a live streamed session within the United Nations Complex in Nairobi on the final day.

The SAJ fellow team were awarded Ksh 20,000 and will continue to work on the system @iLabAfrica to enable users get a full report of the water in use hence prevent disastrous happenings in future like cholera outbreak.

@iLabAfrica Participates in 1st UN-Habitat Assembly 2019

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@IlabAfrica Research and Innovation center participated in the first session of the UN-Habitat assembly held on 27th -31st May 2019 at the UN- Habitat Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The Session was officially opened by The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, welcoming international guests to Kenya, ministers and high-level Member States representatives, governors, mayors, representatives of civil society and non-governmental organizations, academics and business leaders.

Represented by Leonard Mabele, IOT Manager @iLabAfrica participated at the High Level Side Event on Accelerating Frontier Technologies for cities: Closing the infrastructure Gap.

The session was a platform to discuss key policy innovations and cross- sector collaborations around the domain of frontier technology and infrastructure, that have the potential to close infrastructure gaps by improving affordability, accessibility, efficiency, network coverage and overall improvement of operations between utilities and service providers with the goal of saving costs and increasing revenue for municipalities. Leonard Mabele was able to share his experience on the partnership projects by @iLabAfrica, Liquid Telcom Kenya and UN-Habitat on an integrated Sanitation management system that was recently implemented in Mathare slums. The system will monitor the levels of sewerage and send alerts to enable cleaning when full.

The discussions also addressed the challenges being faced and elaborated on the steps that can be taken to close any infrastructure gaps that can help accelerate the development of cities that are not only “smart” but sustainable, resilient and inclusive.

As the United Nations focal point for Sustainable Development Goal 11 and the New Urban Agenda, UN-Habitat is mandated to provide policy-level direction and local-level programming that contributes to the achievement of New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. This event examined the role of UN-Habitat in implementing this transformative vision through its new Strategic Plan 2020-2025. The Strategic Plan highlights frontier technologies and innovations as a key domain of change, towards the goal of enhanced shared prosperity in cities and regions. The theme of this year’s UN Habitat Assembly is “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities” with the sub theme: “Accelerated implementation of the New Urban Agenda towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”

A total of 113 countries sent representatives to the opening of the UN-Habitat Assembly, over half of them at Minister or Deputy Minister level among the 2,250 delegates who attended

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said, “The UN-Habitat assembly provides a fantastic opportunity for us all to inspire each other with new ideas and examples of how we have used innovation to maximize the opportunities offered by urbanization and overcome the challenges.”

The UN-Habitat Assembly was established by the United General Assembly through a resolution endorsed on December 20, last year, to help strengthen UN-Habitat’s mandate. The Assembly will meet every four years.

SAFARICOM HOSTS HACKATHON COMPETITION IN STRATHMORE

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Strathmore University this week hosted Safaricom PLC hackathon competition that had up to 240 participants. The event aimed at fostering solutions around Android Developer, Solution Architects, Big Data Engineer among others.

The Safaricom funded program, co-implemented by @iLabAfrica was an open book competition used to identify technical practical competencies. For this event, the standard pass mark was 75% which was earned after a practical test was done, the examined interrogated and given the chance to modify their work. Those who were Successful received an oral interview invitation where they would be recruited to work for Safaricom in the IT department, their employment level being determined by their total score in both the hackathon and the oral interview.

According to Peter Opiyo, the IT Workforce, Performance and Reporting Manager in the Digital IT Department – Technology Division at Safaricom, theoretical interviews do not always yield desired output and so there is need to explore various technical skills through exhibited practical sessions – hackathons.

“Because of the high demand of techies at Safaricom and the IT market at large, there’s need to recruit the best in practice. Most of the best developer employees we have here in the IT department are those hired from hackathons.” said Peter.

Call for participants was issued out through the Safaricom career portal, website and social media platforms.

Computer Science Workshop for teachers

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CS$ teachers

@iLabAfrica’s Digital Learning Unit conducted the second Computer Science Workshop for teachers from the 23rd -27th of April 2019. The workshop dubbed CS4Teachers was held at at Strathmore University and forms part of a series of activities under the Google CS4Edu Grant which @iLabAfrica was awarded in April of 2018. The program seeks to support continuous Professional Development of teachers in the area of Computer Science education and is also geared towards improving teaching and learning of computer science in secondary schools by encouraging the uptake of the subject at tertiary level.

Participants of this workshop were majorly drawn from schools within Nairobi and surrounding counties, i.e. Kajiado, Machakos and Kiambu. However, the workshop attracted teachers from as far as Siaya and Marsabit counties. A total of 52 teachers participated in the 5-day activity. The workshop was through scholarships awarded to educators based on competence and ability of passing on the skills acquired to their students, the end beneficiary. The scholarships covered training and training material, access to a computer and Internet connectivity during training, tea and lunch as well as transport from Nairobi CBD to Strathmore University and vice versa.

Workshop activities were in the form of lectures, class discussions and hands-on lab exercises. Throughout the week, the participants were engaged in coding exercises which introduced them to web development in Digital foot printing, HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Teacher testimonials:

The workshop was superb. Benefited a lot and now extending the same to our students.

The workshop was superb and I learnt a lot. I am now extending that experience to our students. Thanks to all who facilitated it.

This was a very educative workshop. I look forward to such workshops in future.

The training was very enriching and we request to continue with the same come August so that we perfect on our web design skills.

On the final day of the workshop the participants made presentations of their classroom projects. This provided an opportunity for them to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts learned during the workshop. The teachers were also introduced to the Community of Practice (CoP) which was set up to allow them to continue to exchange ideas and best practices with other participants. Weekly coding challenges are posted to the CoP to encourage teachers to continue the development of their web programming skills.