Discussion on the future of Software Development and Innovation in Kenya Held at Strathmore University
@iLabAfrica-Strathmore University and the IBM Corporate Services Corps Group held a stakeholders panel discussion on Software development and innovation in Kenya on the 22nd May 2014, at Strathmore University.
The panel discussion was the culmination of a two weeks training program by the IBM Corporate Services Group on Next Generation Application Development. It was an opportunity to examine the state of software development training in the country from both the academic and industry angles. Panelists were drawn from both fields and all addressed different issues in regard to what needs to be done to ensure Kenyan software developers keep up with the latest trends and are trained to become problem solvers and not language-specific programmers.
The IBM corporate services group, led by Ben Mann, the program director at IBM’s software division took the stage to explain the future of software development. They observed that application development is continuously changing and developers need to learn a new way of producing software in order to keep up with the demand and competition. In this new model software is developed much faster, deployed quickly and updated continuously to meet users’ needs. Cloud, mobile, big data, social and Internet of things are the new drivers of software development and the IBM team had spent close to two weeks teaching these skills to developers in Kenya.
The panel discussion was attended by a mix of students, software developers and other IT professionals who packed the Strathmore University auditorium to take part in the great discussion. The discussion was a sizzling and engaging session where various issues were raised in regard to challenges facing software developers and possible solutions. One of the challenges identified was that curriculum is hardly keeping up with the continuously changing industry needs. This was pointed out by one of the panelists, Dr. Joseph Sevilla, the director of @iLabAfrica, and the founder of the Faculty of IT in Strathmore University. Dr. Sevilla observed that this can be improved by involving industry experts in curriculum review and running co-curriculum activities that expose students to training in the latest technologies. Another Panelist, Veronicah Ogeto, head of innovation at Safaricom supported this saying that many graduates take a long time to adapt to industry standards, requiring longer training periods. One of the initiatives Safaricom is running to reduce the disparity is deploying environments where students can learn industry relevant skills while still in university. For example, Safaricom has deployed a telecommunications infrastructure to help students in JKUAT learn hands-on skills in GSM network operations. While the technical skills are very important, developers also need good communication skills, soft skills and ability to relate to people from different cultures. This was observed by another panelist, Rachel Reinitz-Distinguished Engineer and CTO of Software Services for Websphere, IBM Software Group. Conrad Akunga an experienced software developer and founder of Mzalendo challenged students to become problem solvers and not to confine themselves behind a particular programming language or platform. He observed that this was one of the major hurdles that software developers had to jump to have real impact in solving the many problems that Africa faces.
At the end of the discussion, the consensus was that the most important thing for students aspiring to become great software developers was to gain skills learn how to solve problems. Industry, academia and the students were also challenge to foster the right motivation to work for changing Africa.
The IBM Corporate Service Corps team and @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University will hold a Panel Discussion about Software Development and Innovation in Africa. The Panel Session is the grand finale of a two weeks developer workshop on Cloud, Mobile, Web, Social and the Internet of Things.
The panel session will be attended by highly influential technology and ICT stakeholders in Kenya from the private sector, government and the Kenya software development community at large. Also present will be a team of experts from the IBM CSC group. The group has been in Strathmore University since 7th of May, imparting skills and knowledge in the use of next generation application development tools and techniques.
The panel session will examine the current state of software development in Kenya, the future of software development, as well as provide an opportunity for the Next Generation Application Development workshop trainees to showcase apps developed using the IBM BlueMix platform, over the period of the two weeks training program.
- Dr. Joseph Sevilla- Director @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University
- Veronicah Ogeto Tchoketch- Head of Innovation at Safaricom LTD
- Rachel Reinitz-Distinguished Engineer and CTO of Software Services for Websphere, IBM Software Group
- Conrad Akunga- Co-Founder & Director of Product Development and Research, Innova Ltd
- ICT Authority Kenya
- Prof. Meoli Kashorda-Executive Director Kenya Education Network
This event is FREE and open to the public, especially people in the software development field, students, educators and all technology enthusiasts in the country.
Date: 22nd May 2014
Venue: Strathmore University Auditorium
Time: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
The Pivot East 2014 semi-final list is out! Five startups from the iBizAfrica business incubator made it to the semi-finals. These include:
- Buymore : Buymore offers student discounts that enhance user retail experience and push foot fall to merchants.
- Sootano : Sootano provides a platform for Businesses and Freelancers to connect. It facilitates finding and contracting reliable service providers for jobs or projects.
- SokoNect : SokoNect uses mobile technology and the Kenyan County govt to reduce farmers post harvest losses and maximize profits by eliminating Brokers. SokoNect enables farmers to upload information about availability of their produce for sale enabling buyers to prepare enough package materials.
- Muva Studios : Muva Studios develops small engaging games for low-end devices and high-end devices to cover the larger market
- Valuraha : It simulates Kenya’s financial ecosystem and enables students to interact with it using virtual money enhancing investor education.
Pivot East is East Africa’s premier mobile startups pitching competition and conference held annually since 2011. The competition is an initiative of m:lab East Africa whose aim is to amplify and consolidate the gains of East Africa’s Mobile developer and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The finalist will be announced in the last week of may and finals will be held on 24th June 2014 during a pitching conference. @iBizAfrica is a partner in this year’s Pivot East.
Over the next one month, the following highly skilled IBM professionals will work at @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University. They will impart technical skills and run a two weeks-long intensive course in next generation applications. The course prepares developers for the revolution that is being driven by Cloud, Mobile, Web, Social and the Internet of Things. It follows a hands-on approach with access to the latest technologies and tools. Team Profile
Finance Education Coordinator in IBM International Services Center in Bratislava, Slovakia.
5 years working in IBM in Finance department, last 1.5 years focusing on soft & finance skills development.
Master degree in Economics focused on Tourism management.
Life Cycle Management Engineer for IBM’s Mainframe and Power Systems. 8 years of mentoring and tutoring experiences for students from primary and secondary schools. Masters of Business Administration. Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Electronic Engineering).
Software Architect supporting IBM’s Endpoint Manager product. 18 years software development experience with a focus on Middleware applications. I engage regularly with customers and co-ordinate the implementation of their requirements with the development teams. Bachelor degree in Electrical/Electronic Engineering from Trinity College Dublin.
In the last four months Sinapis has successfully managed to train 120 entrepreneurs. This is growth from the pioneer class, which had a total of 50 students.
The Business Plan Competition will be a session where selected participants will be given an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of Judges. The aim of the competition is to assess the various business plans and select the best, which will stand a chance of winning USD 10,000 as seed capital for the business.
Date and place
The business plan competition is to be held in the Strathmore University Auditorium on the 10th of May 2014 as of 1.00pm to 4.30pm.
A high profile team from IBM visited @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University on the 5th of May 2014. The team otherwise known as IBM Corporate Services Corps team comprised of high achieving employees from IBM offices across the world. The IBM Corporate Services Corps program is an IBM initiative started in 2008 to serve communities in emerging markets in solving economic and social problems. The team will be working in Kenya over the next one month with various stake holders including government ministries, universities and tech hubs.
This year, @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University will host 3 experts from the IBM Corporate Services Corps team for over a period of four weeks. While at Strathmore, the team will conduct training workshops and presentations on next generation applications. The workshops will entail intensive training on mobile apps development and cloud platforms including the IBM BlueMix cloud platform, APIs, applications management and collaboration, big data analytics and entrepreneurship. The training will run from the 12th to the 26th of May at @iLabAfrica Strathmore University.
Strathmore University enjoys a strong partnership with IBM and this collaboration will see the two entities work together to provide the best training in next generation applications. This is expected to improve the quality of application development in the country as well as impart skills in the latest technology among Kenyan software developers and entrepreneurs. @iLabAfrica is also in the process of launching an ambitions research project in collaboration with IBM for cervical cancer awareness and prevention. IBM is also working with government and other agencies in the country in research and innovation projects that will set the country on the right course to achieve vision 2030.