The Emerging Internet of Things (IoT) Business Landscape

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Internet of Things (IoT) has dominated the tech space headlines for the past five months here in Africa. A number of IoT conferences have been organised throughout the period to present the concept of Internet of Things and try to have the C-suite understand what the buzz for IoT is all about and the future of it. The concept is already causing a major shift in technology and a number of companies have already started reaping the fruits that come with it. The idea of big data accumulated from IoT is certainly improving the efficiency of the processes in almost all the verticals across Africa.

As it already stands, African businesses and industries are already drawing the line regarding the scope of development IoT is going to provide to double their returns and experience the paradigm shift needed in the currently existing innovation. This scope is encompassing the following: Remote Sensing, Connectivity and Analytics. This is gradually laying a framework of collaborative IoT where different players are selectively providing services under their traditional block of business. The sensor manufacturing companies are improving their service in terms of customizing and shipping the needed sensors while the telecom companies such as Safaricom are adding new connectivity layers and standards to their infrastructure such as the Narrow band IoT (NB-IoT). New service provision by cloud giants such as Oracle, Microsoft, Google and IBM are already being adopted by companies such as MKOPA solar and Mawingu Networks to deliver the service of making the really needed sense out of the accumulated data.

Institutions such as Research Centres and Universities are also meant to grow the Collaborative IoT concept through advanced training that is meant to cover all the IoT concepts from bottom to up. Strathmore University and University of Nairobi have already launched IoT research labs that are meant to address IoT development from embedded sensing, Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) and real-time databases to inform the industry just how to go about implementing an IoT solution. This is certainly going to be achieved through Collaborative IoT between academia and industry. It is currently in the initiation phase but the tests are proving the future of the success of IoT.

Although the real definition of IoT lies in the delivery of service in a sensing-actuation fashion and data analytics, various African companies and even start-ups are embracing the idea that to derive the value from IoT, you have to outline your domain of development in order to connect with customers and even other service providers. The domain of Industrial IoT is envisioned to generate more revenue even globally since traditionally it has always run on Machine-to-Machine architecture. Other domains also meant to grow much revenue are: Smart Agriculture, Health, Transportation and Energy. Companies such as Davis and Shirtliff, have already

positioned their IoT stack from sensing to connectivity and to the application in order to monitor the pumps deployed to their client sites to achieve their operational technology innovation. Other companies in Africa that have already embraced IoT and extending their business landscape include the following:

  1. Kenya – MKOPA Solar, illuminum Greenhouses, IBM Kenya, BRCK, Chimera IoT
  2. Tanzania – Usangu Logistics
  3. Nigeria – National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control
  4. Rwanda – The Launch of the African Centre of Excellence in IoT
  5. Namibia – The development of an Electronic Dispensing Tool
  6. Malawi and Ethiopia – Both have started development on Internet of Health.

As the business landscape continues to take shape in Africa, it is envisioned that start-ups will cause a new wave in IoT through new ideas. Most of their ideas might incline to the domains that are rarely looked into by the existing companies but then again, it is only through Collaborative IoT that this is going to be realized. The domains ranked to generate more revenue for businesses in the future of IoT in Africa include:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Healthcare
  3. Transportation
  4. Manufacturing Industries
  5. Energy
  6. Smart Homes
  7. Supply chain

IoT is about data and its value and certainly the business landscape looks bright for the African countries as a new industrial revolution experience is about to happen majorly due to the newness of the IoT concept in the continent. Companies are going to stretch the much needed connectivity to the remote of the areas, unearth smart technology through wireless sensing and build up predictive analytical systems that will cut down their cost to the desired levels. This can only happen through IoT. If a business is currently not laying a framework to reap from IoT with a proper plan, then definitely it should be prepared to have the market scales tilted to its disadvantage.




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Friday 17th November 2017 @IlabAfrica held the 2nd graduation ceremony for Project Autism Tech that awarded participants with Autism and other learning disabilities a certificate in IT.

The ceremony which was attended by the parents and friends of the participants, marked the end of a 4 month training that trained students on IT skills such as Software Testing, Java, HTML, Computer packages among others. This is the second graduation since the project began.

Project Autism Tech was conceived in November 2015 as a possible means to addressing the problem of unemployment amongst capable individuals in the Autism Spectrum within the field of software testing. This specific area was selected because it is a model that has been successfully proven in all continents of the world except in Africa.

@iLabAfrica Research Centre in Strathmore University, spearheads Research and Innovation in the ICT for the Development (ICT4D) ecosystem towards the attainment of the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Kenya’s Vision 2030, was selected by the Project pioneer to partner in the execution of the pilot project.

Speaking during the ceremony Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director at @iLabAfrica, congratulated the participants for their achievement, “We at iLabAfrica are pleased to see the 2nd group graduate. This project has seen the participants grow in the Field of IT and has helped them build their confidence in the delivery of their projects and overall as students. This training as you know is open to not only to those with Autism but also those with learning disabilities and is focused on equipping the candidates with IT skills that meet market standards and that would afford the candidates the opportunity to seek for employment.

He added “We are certain that the skills learned in these 4 months will open doors for those seeking jobs and those currently running their own businesses. The Institution is working hard to ensure that we enrol more students for the program to give them a better opportunity at finding jobs. ”

Mrs Judy Thongori, a parent to one of the participants said, “We as parents are pleased with the work Strathmore is doing for our children. This project has seen them know how to use computers and blog to keep us posted on their activities. We thank Dr. Sevilla for this opportunity and we wish that other universities take up more talented students like this to help them pursue their IT and Social skills”

The project sought to create an environment whereby individuals on the Autism Spectrum as well as those with learning disabilities could be trained and possibly get employment on the basis of their areas of strength. Software Testing & Quality assurance is one such area where people with Autism have been known to excel and thus the project was borne.

Reports show that Autism affects an estimated 70 million people and is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the world, with a startling growth rate of around 57% since 2002. About 80% of affected people live in developing countries where knowledge and resources are scarce, with very few opportunities even for diagnosis, much less for management and treatment.

Research suggests that employers are missing out on abilities that people on the autism spectrum and other learning disabilities have in greater abundance than neuro-typical workers do – such as, heightened abilities in pattern recognition and logical reasoning, as well as a greater attention to detail. In all the other continents, except Africa, people with Autism as well as other learning disabilities have been gainfully employed especially in IT.

The project has a long-term goal of creating a social enterprise that would provide sustainable employment to qualified individuals on the Autism Spectrum as well as those with other learning disabilities.

NTSA Crowned 2017 CIO Winner.

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Dr. Sevilla of @IlabAfrica presents an award at CIO100 Awards ceremony 2017.

@Ilab Africa research and innovation Centre, Strathmore University was the team behind this year’s analysis and judging of the top 100 CIO companies in East Africa. As an Academic partner with CIO 100, IlabAfrica an addition to cutting edge research in IT was nominated to be the judges for the CIO 100 awards.

Themed as Digital Transformation, the annual CIO100 Awards ceremony was preceded by a two-day’s symposium attended by more than 400 senior IT and business executives who congregated to learn, share knowledge and recognize their peers who have performed well.

The gala dinner award ceremony saw National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA’s) receive the Top award for this year’s East Africa’s 2017 CIO100 Award which was received by Head of IT Fernando Wangila.

Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director at iLab, research Centre within Strathmore University mentioned that NTSA scooped the top accolade following its brilliance in implementing Transport Information Management System (TIMS). The System is a self-help portal where Kenyans can access services offered by NTSA from anywhere so long as they have internet connection.

Speaking at the event Dr Sevilla mentioned “Partnering with CIO East Africa and the industry to evaluate the CIO 100 survey applicants was very exciting. @ILabAfrica, can attest that the projects submitted for evaluation were mind-blowing.” he said noting that there were an average of 190 companies that participated.

Dr. Sevilla said that all the 12 judges were marveled with the high level of submissions forwarded by various corporate firms. He chaired the panel that included the judges, Dr. Caroline Kariuki, Dr. John Olukuru, Timothy Oriedo, Rosemary Olale, Isaac Kigen, Dr. Godfrey Madigu, Dr. Alfred Kitawi, Dr. James Mwajagi, Conrad Ojiambo and Dr. Nancy Njiraini among others.

“We noticed that emerging technology isn’t merely a conjured-up report but they represent a series of already rolled-out initiatives – in pure capital, time and energy – that have massive implications for the enterprise.” said Dr. Sevilla.

He further added that “The CIO’s entries had fully rolled out projects indicating that many companies are supporting their IT managers in various impactful projects. Most projects embraced latest disruptive technologies including data science and analytics, Internet of things and Cloud computing which are also key research areas for @ilabAfrica “.

With over 190 applications to be reviewed, various faculties within Strathmore University participated in the exercise. This year’s companies were rated with a total score of 35 points ranging across seven different categories; Networking; Leadership; CIO of the year, CIO Green edge award, Storage, Infrastructure, CIO Technology Partner Awards.

After several rounds of rigorous reviews from the judges, the company that scored the highest rating was the NTSA for their robust use of technology within the year.

This year CIO 100 honored Companies that had created new value using IT and had demonstrated its importance through project execution in uncommon, innovative ways and companies that had pioneered new technology, setting the bar higher for their competitors.

Laura Chite, CEO CIO East Africa congratulated the NTSA Team for scooping the 2017 and in the overall adding value in Kenya’s transport system by effectively rolling out the TIMs project.

TIMS was envisioned in 2008 by a multi-stakeholder group led by the Ministry of Transport through a multi-agency initiative to enhance road safety on Kenyan roads. The main aim was to implement an internet and mobile technologies enabled Transport Integrated Management (TIM) system to leverage the economy and scalability of today’s sophisticated enterprise architectures to meet its needs.

The East Africa CIO100 Awards began over seven years ago and evolved through a need to recognize and celebrate creativity, innovation and those pushing the bounds of creative excellence in all forms of emerging technologies.

More than 650 companies from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia participated in this year’s CIO100 competition, with entries from all the economic verticals including Education, Health, Logistics, Banking and Financial Services, Insurance and Agriculture.

Below is the list of winners in the other categories:

Plus One           

Financial Service Sector:           Barclays Bank of Kenya

Manufacturing Sector:              Longhorn Publishers

Media Sector Award:                MultiChoice Award

Health Sector Award:               Gertrudes Hospital

Public Sector:                           NSSF Uganda

Local Government:                   Kitui County

CIO Special Awards

Leadership Award:                   Huduma Kenya

CIO Green Edge Award:           Sarova Hotels – The Sarova Project

Infrastructure Award:                MultiChoice Kenya – Fundi Task

CIO of the Year Award:             Fernando Wangila, CIO, NTSA

Overall Winner:                        NTSA

Industry Service Award:           Access Kenya

@IlabAfrica develops online centralized business portal for Manufacturers

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Friday, 3rd November 2017, Nairobi. @iLabAfrica research and innovation Centre, Strathmore University has developed an online central business portal for the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM).

The online centralized business portal will provide industry stakeholders and potential investors with information on Kenya’s economic and legal environment as well as industrial and trade statistics relevant to the manufacturing sector and its sub sectors.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) in partnership with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) partnered to consult @iLabAfrica research and innovation Centre, Strathmore University in the development of an online, web-based Centralized Business Information Platform.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) in partnership with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) launched the online portal in a quest to provide investors in the country with up to date data on the sector. The centralized business portal will provide industry stakeholders and potential investors with information on economic and legal environment, industrial and trade statistics relevant to the manufacturing sector and its sub sectors.

Speaking during the launch, @iLabAfrica Director, Dr. Joseph Sevilla mentioned that the portal will avail the business community with relevant information on issues such as Kenya’s current competitiveness in relation to other comparative economies, manufacturing trends and decision making especially when these decisions impact manufacturers.

The portal will provide the capability to document and track vital statistics on a number of issues relevant to the manufacturing sector on a monthly or quarterly basis including key advocacy efforts particularly on NTBs and counterfeit goods. This portal will also provide more dialogue with policy makers as well as avail the results of the advocacy in a timely manner

Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, State Department of ICT and Innovation Principal Secretary, Mr. Victor Kyalo noted that the ICT sector is envisaged to transform Kenya into knowledge and information based economy.

ICT sector is the catalyst for competitive and dynamic economies. Kenya is considered the leading technology and innovation hub in Africa. The development of a large-scale telecommunications infrastructure in Kenya, capable of delivering efficient and affordable info-communications services is recognized as a critical prerequisite for the country’s economic growth. The Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology is therefore keen to partner with KAM to mainstream innovation in industries,” added Mr. Kyalo. KAM Chairlady, Ms. Flora Mutahi noted that the information shared through the portal will provide investors with the necessary data needed to map out areas of investment and potential sectors for businesses to scale into.

Kenya moved a notch higher in e-commerce following the recent launch of the devolution portal which seeks to provide an interactive platform for information sharing between the Business Membership Organisations, County Governments and Constitutional Implementation Bodies. Another key milestone for industry has been the launch of the new National E-Trade Portal – a national e-commerce gateway.

The Portal launched by KAM is part of the wider efforts to integrate the use of technology in the manufacturing sector in line with our economic goals towards Vision 2030. It will increase the sector’s investment competitiveness by providing necessary data needed for investment and ultimately, the growth of the sector,” added Ms. Mutahi.

TradeMark East Africa ICT Director, Mr Alban Odhiambo noted that it is critical to improve the availability and accessibility of information that businesses and policy makers require to make decisions.

“In a globalized economy, information is a vital currency that can make or break a firm.  The establishment of the Manufacturer’s Portal is a step towards the right direction of setting up a customer-centric and knowledge-based way of doing business and TMEA is happy to be associated with this venture which will enhance the effectiveness of KAM to service its members, start-ups and investors in the manufacturing sector of our economy. The goal of this venture is to ensure that manufacturers operating in the country and the region, or planning to set up shop have access to accurate and reliable information to support their strategic and operational decision-making processes,” added Mr Odhiambo.

The KAM Portal hopes to supplement increased use of digital platforms that provide active solutions for the business community in the country. In the short and medium term, the database is expected to raise the level of awareness of manufacturers on the legal environment, economic and trade statistics as well as other related areas.

This centralized information portal brings with it numerous other opportunities where @iLabAfrica can further collaborate with KAM to provide quality products to the members.  Additionally, the manufacturers can greatly benefit from research done by @iLabAfrica in Internet of Things especially for members in the energy sector.

Standard Chartered and @iBizAfrica Women In Technology Incubator Launch

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On Monday 2nd October 2017, @iBizAfrica in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank launched Women in Technology Incubator program at Strathmore University. The programme is Africa’s leading women in tech incubator, aligning with calls for more diversity in technology and for more opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership expertise.

Speaking during the launch Sunil Kaushal, Standard Charted Bank Regional CEO (Africa Middle East), talked about the growing gender digital divide on socio-economic practices, which he said have resulted in women lagging behind in training and eventually starved off financial opportunities. Laming Manjang – CEO, Kenya, and East Africa from Standard Charted Bank took to the podium and in his remarks emphasized how sustainability is a core priority for Standard Charted Bank work and they will do this by empowering entrepreneurs.

DSC_0079.JPGThe event was officially launched by Sammy Itemere, Kenya Government Principal Secretary of Broadcast, and Telecommunications who talked about how the government has and is still putting up measures that ensure technology is accessible to everyone.  He also talked about how the launch of the incubator is important for our country Kenya as investing in women is insurance for our country and the future.

During the event, there was an all-women discussion panel that talked about women entrepreneurs; cost of technology in running business and digital divide. The panel talked about how it is important for women to access more hands on training, mentoring, long-term engagement to help businesses grow, while funding is important, it is not enough. Ms. Anne Mutahi, board chairperson of Standard charted in her remarks talked about how the incubator will break the barriers women have in getting into the technology field.DSC_0184.JPG

The Standard Chartered team together with the Principal Secretary then went for the tour of the incubation facility at @iBizAfrica where the selected women who will take part in the program will be incubated.

The program will combine world-class startup support with local and international experience to provide Africa’s most competitive and attractive startup incubation program focusing immersive learning, mentorship, building and growing Africa’s next iconic startups taking on the continent’s most relevant challenges and opportunities.

The participants who will apply online will then be invited for a pitch to a panel of judges will then select the top 10 contestants who  will go through a 10-week incubation period where they will be coached and  mentored.  Five of the lucky participants will stand a chance of winning $10,000 to help grow their business.

  To be able to take part in the program, please apply here.

Global Entrepreneurship Network Startup Open 2017 Competition

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Startup Open is a global competition that is open to entrepreneurs from any industry with a new business that has yet to raise any outside capital from angel investors, venture capital firms or other formal sources of seed funding. More than 1,000 teams applied to compete in 2017.



  1. All applications must be submitted in English.
  2. Applications will be accepted from 03 April 2017, until 30 September 2017.
  3. Applications will only be accepted online through the Startup Compete platform or through an officially approved Global/National Competition.
  4. It is not required that a startup be incorporated, but a company cannot be incorporated over 18 months to compete.
  5. You must be starting a for-profit company, or a non-profit that does not rely on grants.
  6. Your startup must be pre-money, no venture funding, at time of application


  • YES Stand-up phase when individuals or groups are equipped with the entrepreneurial attitudes and skills to attempt the creation of new company.
  • YES Start-up phase when resources are mobilized and regulatory requirements fulfilled to start a new company.
  • NO Scale-up phase when successful companies expand their businesses to new markets or in innovative ways.
  • NO Exit phase when a business owner or an investor decides to cash out an investment made in the past through trade sale or merger with a larger player in the industry (merger and acquisitions), secondary sales to third parties or initial public offerings (IPOs).


The winners will be selected by a panel of judges who are looking at a range of criteria including growth potential, passion, creativity, level of idea development, and their pitching skills. Each judge’s score is weighed equally.


One winner of Startup Open receive a trip for one (1) founder to Istanbul, Turkey (room accommodation, flight and meals) where they will receive VIP delegate credentials to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in April 2018. In addition to the Grand Prize GEC experience, all 10 finalists gain a spot in the exclusive GEN Starters Club, with additional chances there to travel to Istanbul for GEC 2018.

All Finalists will also compete in a public voting round during Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov. 13-19) for the 2017 GEW People’s Choice Prize.

Applicants will have until September 30 to submit their startup.

For more information on the application process and the competition, please visit here .

The Event that Was: Standard Charted-@iBizAfrica Mentorship

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 @iBizAfrica in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank held a mentorship session on 20th July 2017 at Thomas More Building, 2nd Floor, Strathmore University. This was aimed at students who wanted career guidance to steer them in the right direction. The mentor would be a reference contact in the student’s career engagement. This was also a chance for students to build a relationship with industry experts who would then walk the journey with the student/mentee.

@iBizAfrica hosted Standard Chartered’s Group Chief Information Officer (CIO), Dr. Michael Gorriz, who shared his journey and advised on how to build a career in the corporate and the business world. In addition, 50 Standard Chartered management team members were present for a mentoring session in various roles in an organization.

Peter Gitau, who is the Chief Information Officer of Standard Chartered in Kenya and East Africa, hosted the event. The Standard Chartered team was taken through a tour of @iLabAfrica and @iBizAfrica incubation centre. At @iBizAfrica incubation centre, the guests were taken through a demo by Diana Martha of Purpink, one of the successful incubatees from @iBizAfrica. Purpink deals with personalized gift items for individuals and corporates.


The guests then proceeded to Strathmore Law School~Thomas More Building for the mentorship session. Dr. Olukuru, from @iLabAfrica, gave the opening remarks and welcomed the guests and students. This was later followed by a talk by Anne Kayeli of Standard Chartered Human Resource department who gave a talk on “Setting the scene; launching a career for the millennial.” Dr. Michael Goriz gave his remarks and encouraged students to use technology, as it is a necessary tool to ensure economic growth.

The student teams were divided into 11 groups for the breakout sessions. The session was titled “Meet my Mentor” championed by Standard Chartered executives in Operations, Human Resource, Insurance and Finance departments. A mentor from Standard Chartered was assigned to each group. The sessions were highly interactive as the mentors engaged the students who were then able to ask any questions or clarifications they needed. The event was concluded by a vote of thanks by Dr. Olukuru and Peter Gitau.