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Smarter Transportation solutions for African cities

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@ilabAfrica was this week pleased to host Professor Tierra Bills an Assistant Professor and Michigan Society Fellow in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Bills was visiting to give a lecture on, An Electronic Travel Data Collection Tool for Nairobi Kenya with the ultimate goal of designing Smarter Transportation solutions for rapidly developing African cities.

Like many other African cities, Nairobi is now grappling with the challenges of rapid urbanization. Kenya’s population has increased by 55% over the last decade, and this combined with significant rural-to-urban migration in Kenya has resulted in critical stress on Nairobi’s limited transportation infrastructure.

To mitigate these transportation issues, Nairobi County Government had proposed a plan for (formalized) mass public transportation across the region. The challenge is the lack of adequate transportation data for investigating travel preferences of Nairobi travelers.

For Nairobi, there is currently no on-going data collection system or periodic program effort to investigate the activity-based travel behaviors of Nairobi residents. This can significantly constrain the ability Nairobi transportation planners to investigate (via scenario analysis and forecasting) transportation solutions that will address Nairobi’s multimodal transportation needs.

To gather enough data Dr. Bills is working with a team of Kenyan students (software development and computer science) to design, prototype, and test an electronic and multi-source travel data collection tool.

The preliminary data collected with this tool will be used to refine the data collection tool for future region-wide travel studies in Nairobi, Kenya. Further, this tool would be a significant contribution to researchers and planners interested in implementing data-driven transportation policies and traffic solutions in African as well as other developing cities. Given that such a transportation data collection tool has not been developed for Kenya before, there are many interesting research questions involved with this project.

This project will require students focusing on the following areas: • SMS frontend application • Android front end application among others.

The data collected from such initiatives would be used to estimate (the first) activity based travel demand model for the Nairobi region. In addition to generating a dataset for these modeling purposes, a parallel objective would be to distill a general framework for delivering reliable travel survey data using a hybrid of electronic data collection sources. This hybrid approach could then be replicated for other African and developing cities.

Professor Tierra Bills Bio is working on the project in collaboration for Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica – Strathmore University.

Dr. Tierra Bills. Dr. Bills is an Assistant Professor and Michigan Society Fellow in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Michigan. She has recently joined the department (in Fall 2016) after spending 3 years as a Research Scientist at IBM Research Africa. While in Kenya, Dr. Bills also lectured at Strathmore University’s iLabAfrica and taught MTI 8203 Research Methodology for Application Development. Much of Dr. Bills’ research focuses on investigating the social impacts of transportation projects.

For more information write to john on jolukuru@strathmore.edu

 

 

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Nairobi Tech Week

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Nairobi Tech Week is Back!

iBizAfrica together with Moringa School is excited to host the 3rd Edition of Nairobi Tech Week, Sub Saharan Africa’s largest tech event, whose aim is to bring all actors and influencers in the tech ecosystem in one space, fostering conversations and learning around various relevant technology-related topics.

The event will be taking place from Thursday 19th April to Saturday 21st April 2018 at iBizAfrica, Strathmore University. This year’s theme will be “The Role of Technology in Problem Solving for Africa’s Future.”

Nairobi Tech Week presents a 3-day event packed with panel discussions, workshops and a hackathon with incredible prizes to be won.

“Our aim is to launch a community-driven tech event focused on developers, thought leaders within the tech space as well as the best innovations in Sub Saharan Africa” says Sandra Mukidza, NTW’s main event organiser.

 

For the first time, Nairobi Tech Week will host Nairobi Tech week Awards, in a bid to recognise companies playing influential roles and driving impact within Silicon Savannah.

​The title sponsor this year is Microsoft , other sponsors include Visa, Facebook, Safaricom JUMO, Github, Liquid Telecom, Google and iBiz Africa-Strathmore University.

 

Several key organisations have come forward to partner with Nairobi Tech Week; iHub, Africa’s Talking, Swahili Box, AngelHack, M-Power, CBO and Metta. In previous years Nairobi Tech Week has had global title sponsors like Facebook and Twitter

 

Applications for Nairobi Tech Week opened on March 19th 2018 as well as nominations for the Tech Week Awards.

Apply for your ticket to this years Nairobi Tech Week 2018 here and also place your Tech Week Awards nomination here.

For more information contact Bernard on bchiira@strathmore.edu

Connecting Statups to Investors

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@iLabAfrica Research Centre, Strathmore University has partnered with Pangea an international startup support platform to pilot a US$ 50,000 accelerator program in Kenya.

The two organizations shortlisted 40 startups from a list of 400 applicants. The group of 40 startups are currently on a 3 month program being coached and trained by international and local investors and experts.

Through this partnership the startups are being assisted to get access to capital and networks that will enable them grow and scale up in their area of operations.

The 40 startups fall under different categories e.g. Fintech, fashion, agriculture etc.  Each startup companies gets an opportunity to meet industry experts in their fields who share their experiences and expertise. The startups also connect with mentors who offer guidance on how to make it in the industry and help open doors for the young entrepreneurs.

“It is an amazing program for startups especially because they get to benefit from the training, coaching and mentoring sessions offered. It will help create an enabling environment, where entrepreneurs can develop competence, access relevant network, and capital in order to reach their full potential. We are really happy to be partners on this program and we look forward to working on more projects with Pangea to help startups in Kenya” Bernard Chira, @iBizAfrica Manager said.

Ahmed from Pangea also mentioned “We are really glad to have got a competent and resourceful partner such as @iBizAfrica. The learning environment is amazing and the incubation space which is available for startups under the program is really helpful. The coaches and mentors that have been offered by @iBizAfrica to help in the program have also played a major role in running it. We are glad that we got to work with @iBizAfrica and we look forward to future partnerships.”

Startups that have joined the Pangea accelerator program have the opportunity to benefit even more from the funding as Pangea is looking to launch its crowd investment platform in June 2018.

Autism Tech participants offered internship at Safaricom

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Two participants who graduated from the Autism tech programme in November last year have been given an internship opportunity at Safaricom.

The participants who graduated from the Autism tech training which runs for 4 months and trains students on IT and other computer/web packages will be joining the Safaricom team in April.

The participants Arnold Kanywuiro and Eric Thongori, were picked by Safaricom kenya which has a diversity and inclusion program which aims to employ people with disabilities. Their program mainly included people with physical disabilities but is now expanding to employ and offer internships even to those with learning disabilities such as Autism.

“When Safaricom heard about the @iLabAfrica Autism Tech Training program, Safaricom was interested in hiring participants for a 3-month internship program that will see them showcase their skills in the IT department dealing with Software testing among other roles.” Said Irene Gitangu the program manager of Autism Tech @iLabAfrica.

When asked about his view on the internship at Safaricom Arnold Kanywuiro had this to say. “It would be an honor for me to work with Safaricom because it was a dream for me to experience and to learn the activities the company has to offer. Safaricom is not only known in Kenya but also it is known globally and it is the best company in Africa. The technology they are using M-pesa one can be able to do money transaction. A Person can also save in his/her M-pesa account. The company was previously ran by Michael Joseph and now it is at the able hands of Bob Collymore. Safaricom is the company with many opportunities that one cannot afford to miss them but to be excited to learn them and become better. Safaricom is my dream company and it is the company that can build a great future for all Kenyans.”

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, was selected by the Project pioneer to partner in the execution of the pilot project. 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

The project sought to create an environment whereby individuals on the Autism Spectrum could be trained and 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 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 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.

For more information on the program contact Irene on igitangu@strathmore.edu

 

 

 

 

Advanced Analysis & Visualization in Excel

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Goal is Simple: Learn to create one pager executive dashboards in MS Excel that update with the click of the Refresh button, or with a simple copy-paste of your new data.

This course is suitable for you if you answer YES to:-

  • Do you want to spend less time creating reports and more time analyzing and gaining insights from the reports?
  • Do your reports take a long time to update each reporting cycle?
  • Do you want to gain skills to avail credible dashboards that allow the management to understand what is going on and make better decisions, quickly?

Read more HERE

Smart Farms-Remote Farm Monitoring system

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Every farmer understands the importance of monitoring the crops and/or animals in the farm. It is important to monitor crop growth, field environment, and farming operations in order to increase the agricultural productivity and to promote efficient management. With the growing green revolution in progress the world of agriculture and smart farms are taking a leading role in ensuring efficient, innovative, dynamic and eco-friendly farms. Farmers are now looking for smart ways to monitor and manage their crops remotely.

Farmers over the years have experienced problems related to water usage and supply, energy supply and the demerit of distance of accessing these resources. The importance of monitoring the water usage in farms is increasing with farmers seeking technology that will help them improve their agricultural productivity.

@iLabAfrica Research Centre based in Strathmore University in collaboration with IBM Kenya, and Oregon State University together with Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) intend to come together to develop an intelligent farm Management system that leverages Internet of Things(IoT) architecture through remote sensing and low power wide area networks as well data analytics. The overall concept of the system is to be able to build deeper analytics that can provide more information in a predictive model to help farmers understand their farms in terms of soil composition and changes, water usage and evaporation rates as well as the changing weather parameters that can visually present an insightful trend on the changing climate. This project collaboratively explores a way of remote monitoring that could guarantee farmers an easy way to understand various parameters such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture and water levels in various tanks on their farms among other parameters. This is expected to provide a smarter approach to farming, referred to as Precision Farming.

The data collected in the Internet of Things (IoT) stack in this project so far includes temperature, humidity, water level (rate of water evaporation also monitored through the use of evaporimeters –provided by Oregon State University), battery level and  the signal strength of the data transmitting devices.

To reliably provide this solution, the project is expected to use GSM/GPRS and Long Range (LoRa) connectivity to achieve the desired Machine-to-Machine data exchange between the farms and the cloud since the farming areas envisioned in these concept are located in rural areas. These areas experience poor signal strength even on the cellular network. Hence, the need to also gather data on the signal strength of the network.

Currently, two IoT devices of this kind have been deployed to a test farm in Kitengela, south of Nairobi. The devices are currently powered by mini solar-panels and continually transmit data at an interval of 15 minutes. These devices make of the GSM/GPRS technology as at now. The project as is, has proven to be working and data can be relayed from the farm to both a web and a mobile interface through IBM’s Cloudant database. The information gathered provides real-time information on the parameters described to the farmer.

The next step of development will be to  deploy the solution in more farms and build a low cost, low maintenance weather station that can be used by farmers and also provide an irrigation service that can intelligently be measured and remotely actuated. Alternative Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) communication technology, in this case, LoRa will also be implemented to provide a more stable and reliable service of transmitting these data.

@iLabAfrica IoT Manager and project lead Mr. Leonard Mabele mentioned that “with more funding, we can reach out to more farmers in remote areas and acquire more devices for deployment, mass testing and implementation. This will also allow us to reach out to IoT security experts to enable us to not only develop a working solution but a securely tested one as well. This projects will see us uplift the process and yields of farmers and in return build their communities.

For more information about this click HERE

Launch of Kiambu Cashless revenue collection System

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Kiambu county has launched a cashless payment system to improve its revenue collection. The payment system designed by @iLabAfrica Research Centre in Strathmore University through its other arm- Strathmore Research and consultancy center (SRCC) is designed to ensure that revenue collection in the county is a citizen centric automated system contributing to enhanced income streams and provision of services.

The Launch took place on the 2nd of March 2017 and was attended by the Kiambu Governor, Hon. Ferdinand Waititu his Deputy James Nyoro, @iLabAfrica Director Dr. Joseph Sevilla and county executives (CEC’s), and major stakeholders.

Speaking during the launch Governor Waititu said that the county collects up to Sh46 million a week and projects collections are expected to shoot up with the cashless system. “The revenue collected goes directly to our account. This eliminates middlemen who are an extra cost to the County and ensures accountability of the citizens’ revenue”; he said.  The governor further noted that they had launched a USSD code that will help Kiambu locals to pay for various services offered in the county.

“We have launched our USSD code *419# through Safaricom Kenya Limited which will assist Kiambu residents to pay for some services like parking, market fee, single business permits renewal among others”; Waititu said. “The USSD code is faster and people can pay their taxes wherever they are without going to county offices,” he said.

The county has partnered with Cooperative Bank to collect the revenue and residents will get a payment confirmation. With the launch, the governor noted that this implementation was a way that his administration would enhance revenue collection.
“These are some of the steps my county has undertaken to enhance revenue collection. Improved revenue collection will translate to more development projects for Kiambu citizens. This money is meant for development. We have reviewed all licenses and fees and have lowered them to help Kiambu residents conduct their business without high charges,” Waititu said.
Other counties where @iLabAfrica Research Centre has implemented revenue collection
systems are; Taita Taveta County, Busia County, Mombasa County and Kilifi County.

This step of implementing revenue collection systems is a move by the commission on Revenue Allocation, the ICT Authority of Kenya and implementers of financial management and policies in all 47 counties.
For more information about the system visit www.ilabafrica.com