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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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@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 

 

 

 

 

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.

Computer Science Workshop for teachers

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@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.

Strathmore hosts 4th Edition of Nairobi Tech Week (NTW 2019).

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@iBizAfrica, Strathmore University once again hosted this year’s 4th edition of Nairobi Tech Week (NTW) a Moringa School based initiative to bringing all actors and influencers in the tech ecosystem under one roof to foster conversations and learning around technology related topics.

This year’s event was themed, “​Technology in Africa: The Past, The Present and The Future”. It delved into the evolution of technology in Africa, the various solutions being applied in the African context and the exciting opportunities yet to be capitalized on as we navigate the digital revolution.

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Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica and @iBizAfrica giving the opening remarks for the NTW 2019

The 2019 NTW event included a number of activities ranging from; workshops, panels, roundtables, research presentation sessions as well as the hackathon which brought together players in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Platforms, Internet of Things (IoT), Micro services, Technopreneurship, Data Science, and Product Development Tools.

 

Google workshop on Google essentials and Machine Learning led by Marvin Ngesa.

The panels consisted of experts from the tech industry, the government as well as NGO’s shared ideas and solutions towards improving the existing structures in the growing field of technology by filling the gaps left by the current players.

Lease me was one of the teams from Strathmore University that participated in the hackathon competitions and emerged the best.

Lease Me, offered a solution to help aspiring farmers with no land to conduct agriculture by leasing out arable pieces of land and capital, thereby enhancing food security.

Talking at the event, the Principal Secretary of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority(TVET) Dr. Kevit Desai indicated the government’s commitment to supporting technology in Kenya as a backbone to the achievement of the big four agenda.

Sponsors Sponsors for 2019 NTW included GIZ – Make IT Africa, Microsoft, JUMO, Github, Google, Andela, Humanitec, Tala.

The main partners for Nairobi Tech Week 2019 are Strathmore, @iLab Africa, @iBizAfrica, AngelHack, Twiga Foods, Africa’s Talking, Nairobi Innovation Week, iHub, ALX, Metta, Nailab, Lawyers Hub, and the official transport partner – Little Cab.

Big Data Analytics Project to transform Agricultural Insurance in Africa using Climate Data

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Weather affects everything. It is both an essential resource and a significant risk factor for life on Earth. What’s more, weather is one of the most unpredictable aspects of human existence, yet we have no choice but to try our hand at predicting it. After all, our very lives depend on our having ample supplies of foodstuffs that are themselves dependent on adequate precipitation, growing seasons and so forth. Weather is no small matter. Many businesses are directly or indirectly linked with weather conditions. For instance, agriculture relies on perfect weather forecasting for when to plant, irrigate and harvest.

Farmers are highly vulnerable to weather shocks, particularly in Africa, where there is a high reliance on rain-fed agriculture. It is therefore unsurprising that much attention has been paid to developing climate risk management tools for farmers to mitigate and transfer the risk of weather shocks such as drought and flood. Small farms are vulnerable to climate risk, but most smallholder farmers around the world don’t have access to insurance and other financial tools to manage fluctuations in climate.

Insurance is one way to increase resiliency to climate shocks, but not only in the way you might think. There’s a subtler benefit to agriculture insurance, and one that is essential for adapting our food systems to a changing climate: when farmers feel financially secure, they’re more likely to take productive risks. In the decades to come, we can expect increasingly difficult growing seasons for farmers, and so taking advantage of good years will become more and more important – for both our food supply and farmers’ livelihoods. In recent years, agricultural insurance has become part research Actuarial Science program, particularly weather index-based insurance (WII). The interesting aspect has been that, rather than compensating observed damage, compensation in WII is determined on the basis of an independent index (such as the cumulative precipitation falling in a certain window of time or the average yield over a district).

The agriculture insurance, called weather index insurance, will provide a way to fill the insurance gap by basing payouts on weather and satellite data instead of expensive site visits from claims adjusters. This will be an addition to already developed Livestock indexed based insurance by ILRI researchers. The indexed based crop insurance will protect farmers against financial risks posed by extreme weather events, and has been widely advocated as a tool to help farmer households to escape poverty traps and invest in climate-smart high-productivity agriculture. Over the past decade there has been great deal of effort placed into index insurance–that may have the potential to reach these farmers. Unlike more traditional forms of insurance, which require individual verification of losses, index insurance works by providing payouts when a measurable index flags a major problem that the farmers face, such as a widespread drought or flood. In theory, this should allow insurance coverage to reach many more farmers

Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass using Satelitte data provided by TWIGA?

 

Transforming Weather Information Growth In Africa – TWIGA is a 4-year project (2018 – 2021) under EU Horizon2020 aimed to transform weather water data into value-added information services.

Satellite data provide by TWIGA will give index insurance the scaling power needed to reach all the small scale farmers across Africa.

A Kenyan Insurance sector stakeholders workshop will be held this first quarter of 2019 to address the challenges available in implementing weather indexed based insurance. The theme of the workshop will be:  Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass using Satelitte data provided by TWIGA? This could be the start of touching the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers across the African continent that are under threat from extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods with risks projected to increase significantly in future years due to climate change.

Developers require the ability to easily combine weather functionality, including forecast and observational data, with numerous data and application services to build advanced web and mobile applications that leverage cognitive capabilities, analytics, mobile and IoT services without wasting cycles installing or managing software and deploying hardware.

In conclusion, remotely sensed data can be used to extend weather index insurance to millions of farmers in Africa and beyond—potentially mitigating their exposure to climate-related risk. On the other hand, inappropriate use of these data could cause great harm. This workshop enabled key players in the weather index insurance industry to engage directly with data providers and scientists. As a result, data providers now have a clearer idea of the ways in which their products are being used. The insurance industry, moreover, has a better understanding of both the opportunities and pitfalls of using remotely sensed data. Following the success of this workshop, the participants agreed that deeper engagement between data providers, scientists, and the weather index insurance industry would be of benefit to all parties. Further workshops, projects, and collaborations are planned to focus on the intelligence and Analytics platform is powered by AI techniques that leverage real-time weather feeds and historical data. This will consider GIS analytics where the following will be the main focus: Live weather feeds from different locations (Latitude/Longitude); Temperature, water level, wind and other sensors continuously transmitting data; Historical weather data publicly available; Weather maps (precipitations, clouds, pressure, temperature, wind, weather stations).

The project aims to achieve the following benefits to the Kenya and Africa as a whole ;

  • Farmers get warned earlier of what the weather will be like for that particular month.
  • Help farmers to take appropriate precautions to stay safe in case of unwanted occurrences.
  • With forecasting methods, farmers can get better outcomes with the help of accurate predictions. Hence farmers will be able to plan the planting as per water supplies.