Innovation

Metathesiophobia – Innovation’s Biggest Constraint

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I recently came across this term “Metathesiophobia” while reading a book written by Neil Sahota and Michael Ashley titled “OWN THE A.I. REVOLUTION”. The authors of this book spend a lot of the initial chapters of the book delving into the evolution of different technologies leading to Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) alongside the side of psychology and the human mind on “Learning” and the rate of adoption of change relating to technology. The authors bring out an interesting comparison of technology adoption based on knowledge. Their description of the “things we know, we know”, “things we know, we don’t know” and “things we don’t know, we don’t know” really caught my attention especially in regards to technology adoption! Metathesiophobia, as loosely put by Michael and Neil means “Fear of Change” and I thought this might just the biggest constraint of innovation.

In the wake of Internet of Things (which has become my daily life), metathesiophobia might get a lot more amplified than it already is. Simply because, Internet of Things is a collection of technologies and not just a single technology. The technologies making up this collection are constantly experiencing evolution leading to new changes almost every year driven by more innovation. This is enough to scare off a company, especially one that has a traditional setup.  At a first glance, Internet of Things (IoT) should be understood as simply as the term – “Internet of Things” where one part has “Internet” and the other part has “Things”. In this era, even a 5 – year old who will have a slow loading cartoon on YouTube, will tell you “there is no Internet” (Am not overlooking the digital divide, there are many rural places lacking Internet access so the 5 – year olds here have a different experience) which means we are all growing into having Internet access as a basic need. This definitely speaks for the numbers that know what “Internet” means. On the other hand, “Things” are just that – Things, that is: buildings, roads, land, atmosphere, vehicles, electronics, transformers, boxes, warehouses, oil pipelines, solar power plants among other numerous things. It is important to note that people, under IoT, are also things! From this get go, anyone who hears “Internet of Things” should relate to the term as its two parts and be excited to hear how everything works. It is its implementation that probably starts to breed metathesiophobia.

 

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Looking at the diagram included here which breaks the two terms – “Internet” and “Things” into two parts and lists their technology domains perhaps can help bring out the different elements that IoT encompasses which somehow just shows how wide an IoT conversation can get within an Innovation subject. A lot of C-level individuals are happy to have it but how many are really doing it? Or how many are really ready to invest in some of these technologies just to create a paradigm shift in their existing business models? Could it be a fear of “we know, we don’t know” or “we don’t know, we don’t know” so cannot set up a separate budget to get moving on Low Power Wide Area Networks Innovation or TV White Spaces, Artificial Intelligence etc? How many startups are VC’s funding to develop solutions leveraging these kind of technologies? In Kenya, my experience of working with corporates, has got me almost getting to a conclusion that, it is the fear of change (read metathesiophobia) that is limiting the pace of innovation.

A research publication done by Dr. Ovidiu Vermesan and Dr. Peter Fries titled “Internet of Things – From Research and Innovation to Market Deployment” lists “Smart Living” as one of the applications of IoT embodying intelligent ways of shopping, efficient usage of energy and water, remote control of appliances, usage of smart home appliances, gas monitoring, safety monitoring among other sub-applications. In the 374-page document, the authors seem to converge to one objective elucidated by the Internet of Things (IoT) which is “A Smart Population”! A smart population inspired by “Internet” and “Things”.

There is a lot under the umbrella of these two terms to be implemented in order to really realise the smart population. First, the technical pieces which stretch from Things to the Internet amidst constant innovative developments. Second, a supportive Research and Development ecosystem within companies and research institutions to inspire the development of the technical components. Third, a proactive and flexible national environment that follows the development of the technologies close enough to craft the regulatory frameworks for all of these technologies to thrive for the growth of the smart population. Fourth, other reasons. The innovation happening at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM among the other tech giants exploring the technologies around IoT (as shown in the diagram) is the biggest driver for their growing revenue. New careers are also emerging within this innovation space spitting out job titles that have not existed before especially as new domains emerge. Elon Musk’s description of Tesla Inc. as a technology company is probably the reason that has kept the company staying on top of innovation consuming the technologies around “Internet” and “Things”.

If we do not rise above metathesiophobia, we will not innovate and sooner than we know it, we might have innovative startup companies buying out well established companies. metathesiophobia might limit our dream of achieving a smart population that can provide us ready markets. It might also get us holding onto the statement of “there are no jobs” when we could create more jobs through innovation. Whichever way we look at it, Metathesiophobia might limit our innovation when probably all we need is the “Internet” and “Things”!

Leornard Mabele

 

Leonard Mabele  is a Junior Research Fellow and Manager of the IoT Research Lab at iLabAfrica, Strathmore University

Strathmore Students emerge winners in Communications Authority Cybersecurity Hackathon 2019

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Florence Kithinji, Jayson Waigwa and Hilda Kiriga “CodeRed” Hackathon team.

@iLabAfrica-Strathmore University cybersecurity students emerged as the winners of this year’s Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Cybersecurity Hackathon as part of the CA National Cybersecurity Conference 2019. The theme of the conference was “Enhancing the National Cyber Readiness and Resilience”.

Communications Authority of Kenya held a National Cybersecurity Conference to engage Cybersecurity stakeholders on emerging cyber security matters. In recognition of the global cyber security month with the objective of promoting safe internet use and healthy cyber hygiene practices amongst Kenyans the conference was officially opened by Mr. Jerome Ochieng, PS, Ministry of ICT.

Part of the conference, CA held a 24 hour hackathon to examine current skill sets; stimulate cyber solutions development; provide a forum for interaction and knowledge exchange amongst cyber security enthusiasts in academia and industry; and encourage upcoming cyber experts to showcase their problem-solving skills in various cyber environments.

The Hackathon comprised of two focus areas Ethical hacking and Digital Forensics. Over 10 Kenyan universities and colleges participated in the event that saw Strathmore @iLabAfrica students win the Ethical hacking challenge.

The team known as “Code red” comprised of Jayson Waigwa – @iLabAfrica Student Associate, Florence Kithinji – BBIT 4th year, Hilda Kiriga – BBIT 4th year and Yashon Ochieng Computer Science 4th year. The students were able to show their prowess and emerged as winners in this year’s hackathon competition where they managed to ethically locate and solve an online vulnerable system in the shortest time.

“It was a great experience in general, being exposed to the real world challenges and threats in cyber security. What helped the team most was good team work since we had different skills where we are good at in solving the challenges. Speed also played a major role in solving and submitting of the flags.” Said Jayson Waigwa, @iLabAfrica Student Associate.

CA is committed to enhancing the National Cyber Readiness and Resilience in recognition of the critical role that the Internet and ICTs play in Kenya’s social economic transformation.

The Conference was attended by over 300 participants from both private and government organizations.

About @iLabAfrica Centre

@iLabAfrica is a Centre of Excellence in ICT Innovation and Development at Strathmore University. The centre spearheads Research and Innovation in Information Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) of ecosystems towards the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to contribute toward Kenya’s Vision 2030. The research centre is involved in interdisciplinary research, students’ engagement and has

Women in tech – Last call

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WIN KSH 1,000,000 FOR YOUR BUSINESS!

WITStandard Chartered in partnership with @iLabAfrica has launched a search for the third cohort of women-led technology startups which will see five entrepreneurs win Sh1 million each.

The partnership seeks more diversity in technology and for more opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership excellence.

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

Who are we looking for?
We are seeking to recruit the best entrepreneurial minds, women-lead startup teams leveraging on technology as a key driver of innovation in business. The applicant must:
  1. be a woman
  2. be the CEO with equal or majority ownership in the company
  3. 18 and above
  4. of Kenyan nationality
What are the the program thematic areas?
Applicants may submit applications across but not limited to the following thematic areas:
  1. Agribusiness
  2. Education
  3. ICT
  4. E-Commerce
  5. E-Health
  6. Fintech
What do Participants Get?
  1. Three months incubation at Strathmore University’s leading business and innovation incubator- @iBizAfrica
  2. Mentorship from world class mentors
  3. Coaching by top business, technology and legal professionals
  4. Immersive, world-class entrepreneurship curriculum
  5. Networking and exposure to expand your business networks
What do Winners Get?
  1. USD 10,000 or KES 1,000,000 equity-free grant seed funding for the top 5 winners
  2. 9 months ongoing support from Standard Chartered and @iBizAfrica to assist with go-to market and scale.
Terms and Conditions
  1. Participants must be physically available to attend the program over the three months incubation
  2. Participant accommodation costs are not catered for
Application  deadline 4th November 2019 

REGISTER HERE 

For more information Click here

To Apply click here

Helping Kenyan Companies fight Cybercrime

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ACPM IT Consulting Ltd. an international consulting company today announced the expansion of ACPM IT Consulting to Kenya. As part of this expansion, it shared details of a Memorandum of Understanding with @iLabAfrica Centre -Strathmore University and BCK Kenya. The overarching goal is to make it safer for Kenyans to access the internet without having their data compromised. The Strathmore ACPM SOC as a Service will provide the best way for companies to outsource their Security Monitoring by providing the benefits of 24/7 monitoring, decrease in cybersecurity threats to IT infrastructure, achieving regulatory compliance and Saving money.

The African market is experiencing significant rise in cybercrime due to fast-paced technological advances and companies are investing more in Cybersecurity experts to help prevent cyber-attacks.

Through the Hungarian Embassy in Kenya, ACPM IT is collaborating with @iLabAfrica Strathmore University and BCK to provide information and assistance to academic and commercial sector in Kenya on risk reduction and computer security incidents. This partnership will equip African students with the technical skills and certifications required to help companies prevent cybercrime and build the Kenyan economy.

@iLabAfrica- Strathmore University has built an international reputation for its world-class academic teaching, professional training, and research in technology. Working with ACPM IT and BCK, the University has already begun training students on various cyber security training programs and is providing cybersecurity services to potential clients.

@iLabAfrica, a Centre of Excellence in Research and Innovation in Information Communication Technology at the University, is spearheading the rollout and students will be able to benefit from access to high-quality learning online resources, hands-on lab experiences to develop technical skills, and the opportunity to achieve industry-recognised cybersecurity certification to complement their chosen fields of study.

“We are delighted to be part of this partnership with ACPM IT and BCK to help train and equip our students and the public with the right skills to help companies in Kenya fight cybercrime. We are happy for the support from the Hungarian Embassy in Kenya for helping to facilitate this partnership from a government perspective in partnership with Academia and Media. From this collaboration we look forward to bring skills to the local workforce, provide a service to local companies and an opportunity for us to further embark on research and understand what is happening in the world of IT in Kenya.” said Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University.

“The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding between ACPM IT Solutions, ILabAfrica and BCK features a historic moment as the first Foreign Direct Investment from Hungary to Kenya. This partnership will ensure the training and employment of highly-skilled cybersecurity experts to run the SOC and will save billions of Kenyan shillings for those companies that are affected by cybercrime in Kenya.,” said Mr Marton Milkos, CEO, ACPM IT.

The Partnership has come at a time when kenya is experiencing cybercrime attacks and organisations are looking for ways to safeguard their ventures.

Cashless revenue collection system launched in Busia.

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LAUNCH 1

@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.

LAUNCH 2

“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.

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