Innovation

Cashless revenue collection system launched in Busia.

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@iLabAfrica, Strathmore University, launched a cashless revenue collection system in Busia County. The system, a project under @iLabAfrica’s outsourcing and consulting unit, dubbed County Pro was launched on the 10th of April 2019. The launch, which was spearheaded by Busia’s County Governor, Hon. Sospeter Ojaamong, is set to collect revenue and seal leakages that have led to a decline in the county’s revenue collection.

In his statement the governor applauded @iLabAfrica for contributing to a course that seeks to seal loopholes and maximize revenue collection in the county.

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“I thank @iLabAfrica from Strathmore University and the vendors of the County Pro system for effecting the cashless system in partnership with Safaricom,” Ojaamong said.

Busia County now aims at attaining and realizing its potential of collecting Sh1.5 Billion from the various revenue streams through the system.

Implementation of the System

Busia County has already procured 100 P.O.S (Point of Sales) Devices to its 7 sub-counties and training done to all the Revenue Collectors in the specific sub counties.

@iLabAfrica, through the County Pro vendors, is taking part in the implementation process in two steps; the Gap Analysis Report which is going to ensure that the county has the prerequisite infrastructure that is: Computers, Printers and the Internet, for the program to kick off and the Modular Process of Implementation which is going to make sure that the Backend System of the structured revenue and P.O.S (Point of Sales) system of the unstructured revenue are up and running.

Once the systems are operational, data that is obtained from the P.O.S system, which will include parking tickets and market receipts, shall be directly synchronized into the Backend System of the Structured Revenue of the county government.

 

Monitoring and Evaluation

This system will be monitored on a daily basis using the User Support System. Through this system, Revenue Collectors can contact the County Pro Developers through calls and e-mails and make their cases regarding any queries on the system.

Quarterly Site visits will also be done to assess the success of the system. This is also meant to enable the creators of County Pro address any vital issues concerning the system’s workability.

@iLabAfrica has been at the forefront of technological advancements with projects just like ‘County Pro’ to help solve notable issues facing the counties and country through the use of technology

County Pro has replicated the same system in Kiambu, Taita Taveta and Kisumu Counties which are now yielding positive results in terms of revenue collection.

 

 

 

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.

Apply: Facebook Bots for Messenger Challenge

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For many years Facebook has been promoting innovation across the Middle East and Africa, providing startups with the tools they need to build, grow, monetize, and measure. Facebook grew out of a hacker culture, and we thrive on seeking out and promoting innovation on new platforms. That’s why they are launching the Bots for Messenger Challenge, a contest to recognize and reward developers who are able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger in (i) the Middle East and North Africa; and (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa across one of these these three categories:

  1. Gaming and Entertainment
  2. Productivity and Utility
  3. Social Good

Teams of up to 3 people are invited to participate in the Challenge. The submission period runs from February 15, 2017 to April 28, 2017, and winners will be announced on June 19, 2017.

In view of this, Facebook will be partnering with AfriLabs to implement the Bot challenge through our network. We will like to request for your shipping address so we will be able to send across the Facebook posters for the Bots Challenge once received from them.

AWARDS
Finalist Teams
From each region (i) Middle East and North Africa; and (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa, 30 finalist teams (10 from each category) will win a Gear VR and mobile phone, Facebook mentorship and up to $40,000 USD in tools and services from FbStart, a Facebook program designed to help early stage mobile startups build and grow their bots

Note: All student teams or individual student entrants who make it to the finals will receive an additional $2,000 USD.

Runner Up Teams
For each region, 3 runner up teams (1 from each category) will win $10,000 USD and 3 months of Facebook mentorship.

Winning Teams
For each region, 3 winning teams (1 from each category) will win $20,000 USD and 3 months of Facebook mentorship.

DEADLINE
April 28, 2017

RULES 
Please review the Terms & Conditions carefully before registering.

Some important rules to note:

    • Bots must be created, and will be verified, between February 15, 2017 to April 28, 2017. Bots created before February 15, 2017 will not be eligible to participate.
    • Bots must comply with all Facebook for developers Messenger Platform developer guidelines and rules, and use the Messenger Platform API.
    • Any bots created on other non-Messenger bot platforms will be excluded.
    • Bots must be created by people in the Entrant’s home region of either (i) the Middle East and North Africa or (ii) Sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Bots may be in any language (or combination of languages). Only the Bot Submission must be entirely in English.
    • It is optional to submit a link to an online video of the bot, but if you do, the video must be under 2 minutes long.

Judging Criteria

    • Technical Quality – How well does the Bot use the Messenger platform features? [35%]
    • Non-Technical Quality – What is the degree of excellence of the Bot, taking into account the Bot’s distinctive attributes and characteristics (except for the technical aspects)? [35%]
    • User Experience – How usable is the Bot for the intended audience, including how well the conversation flows? [30%]

To learn more and participate in the challenge, kindly visit here.

Follow @iLabAfrica onTwitter and Instagram to learn more about our work

Apply : Hack to Teach Education Hackathon

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Introduction

Hack to Teach 2017 is a hackathon hosted by Ideation Social Innovation Lab. During the competition, African tech talents will be expected to design and build an ed-tech mobile platform geared towards improving the quality of basic education within the informal educational sector in Kenya.

About Ideation Social Innovation Lab

Five million underprivileged Kenyan children are taught by untrained and unqualified informal school teachers. The first poverty trap for underprivileged children stems from the lack of access to adequate basic education. Since July 2016, our program trained teachers from 120 schools and provided education loans to lower the tuition by 41%. In addition, our business management system helped multiple teachers college achieve financial sustainability.

Objective

In order to scale our education loan program and school management system in Kenya, Ideation Social Innovation Lab hopes to distribute their solution as a mobile platform to more colleges and teachers. Within the 3-day Hackathon, software engineers and developers will produce prototypes for a college accounting system, collection system for loan repayments, and post-training evaluation system for teachers.

Judging Criteria

  • Innovation / Ambition
    Is this idea creative or novel? Is this idea different from existing products out there? Does this solution provide unique value?
  • Product / User Experience
    Does the idea solve a clear problem for the targeted users? Is the workflow intuitive? Is it easy and pleasant to use?
  • Impact / Scalability
    Does this idea have the potential to reach many people at a large scale? Could it be used by different people in different areas?
  • Execution / Quality
    Does the app work completely from start to finish? How many and how severe were any bugs encountered?
  • Pitch / Teamwork
    Does the team explain well of their story? Does the demo show an effective solution? Does the team collaborate well?

Apply and innovate. Your solution may be the next big thing.

@iLabAfrica Safaricom Academy Students Emerge Champions in the Twitter #SmartCityChallenge

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Remember the Nairobi Tech Week event?? You may be  wondering what happened to the ReportTaka Team who were winners in the challenge. Well, we got a chance to interview Bettirose, one of the team members and this is what she had to say…

What made you come up with the idea?

When we decided to join Angel Hack’s Hackathon during the Nairobi Tech Week,  it wasn’t so much to win,  but to be part of the solution that Nairobi needed to be smart. Prior to the event,  we had been affected by the floods that occured in Nairobi every time there was a downpour. In fact,  the previous day,  one of our classmates had to go back home,  having covered half the journey to school after the vehicle he was in stalled.  This got us to think of a solution to help solve the flooding menace in Nairobi, and ReportTaka was created.

What exactly is ReportTaka?

ReportTaka is a platform that allows citizens to conveniently report unattended garbage using their phones. We aggregate this data,  either sent through Twitter,  SMS or our Android Application and relay this information to relevant authorities who we partner with.  This was the winning idea during AngelHack’s first Hackathon in Africa,  which gave us a chance to join their HACKcellerator program that is planned to start on 1st August 2016

Tell us about the Twitter #SmartCityNairobi Competition

Together with two other winning teams,  Naimotion and FixMtaa,  team ReportTaka got a chance to compete in Twitter’s #SmartCityNairobi Challenge. On 3rd June 2016,  ReportTaka was again crowned the winner of the #SmartCityNairobi Challenge taking home a $10000 cheque to actualize their project.

Who are the Team members?

The team is made up of five friends who are also classmates, studying MSc.  Mobile Telecommunications and Innovation at @iLabAfrica’s Safaricom Academy and they include Peter Gikera,  James Ngugi,  Bettirose Ngugi, Racheal Gathagu and Kizi Dimira.

What’s Next?

ReportTaka is  currently working on building partnerships with players in the garbage industry while refining their product.  Being Metta Nairobi members,  an initiative by Nest,  they are able to meet other entrepreneurs who help mentor and give us feedback. In October 2016, they hope to travel to Silicon Valley for the final event of HACKcellerator program. They are raising funds to help them cater for travel and accommodation costs since only one of their team members has been sponsored.

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Applications Open: IDEA Foundation Seed Stage Accelerator Program

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What is the Idea Foundation Seed Stage Program?

The Idea Foundation Seed Stage Accelerator Program is a platform to develop and grow innovative business ideas through training, mentorship and coaching and financial support. The program is implemented by @iBizAfrica in Collaboration with IDEA Foundation. There are two intakes in a year, in April and August. The program targets innovators and leaders seeking to solve problems that affect the society in Kenya  through innovation and entrepreneurship.

Who is eligible to apply?

The program is open to qualifying students and alumni of Strathmore University. We target teams comprised of individuals with competent skill sets to make the business a success. The team should include at least a visionary (CEO), Business Lead (CFO), Marketing Lead and Technical (CTO) Lead.

Why should you apply?

The program is is a great platform to accelerate the development, growth and success of startup business ideas. In the past Through this program @iBIzAfrica and IDEA Foundation have help many companies to develop, grow and succeed. These include: Purpink Gifts, Valuraha Group and Buymore LTD.

What Benefits will YOU get?:

  • Develop and sharpen business skills.
  • Receive mentorship and coaching from successful entrepreneurs and experts.
  • Upon Successful completion, receive a certificate of completion and an opportunity to receive seed funding of upto KES. 500,000. The funding is a low interest rate .(subsidized and below market rate) repayable upon the business becoming successful or convertible to a grant. We do not take equity.
  • Work-space at and access to office facilities at @iBizAfrica

What is the program Duration?

The program is 3 months long between April and June. Key Dates are as follows:

  • Call for Applications-Feb 16
  • Selection-March 25
  • Training Starts-April 1st
  • Training Ends –April 15th
  • Incubation starts –April 18th
  • Selection Committee Approval for Funding-June 10th
  • Incubation Ends-June 17th                           
  • Submission of Applications for Funding-June 17th

Register here  to be considered for the Program!

 

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Dis­cus­sion on the future of Soft­ware Devel­op­ment and Innov­a­tion in Kenya Held at Strath­more University

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@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.

Panelists (From Left: Conrad Akunga, Rachael Reinitz and Dr. Joseph Sevilla)

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.

Participants listening to the discussion on software development and Innovation in Kenya

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.

BlueMix trainees performing an app demo

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.