08 Apr

The School of Computing and Informatics (SCI) aspires to be a leading centre of excellence in research, research and development (R&D) and advanced education in computing; addressing national and regional needs for information and communications technology and product development.

It is this vision that paved way to the initiation, in 2013, of a prototyping and innovation startup incubation lab, the C4DLab. With all pomp and show on the 8th April 2014, the C4DLab witnessed its official launch.

Among several invited dignitaries was the chief guest, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology. In his speech, he noted that the initiative of C4DLab would not only nurture creativity and innovation, but also address some of the problems and challenges facing the society. He emphasized that ICT was one of the key enablers of development in Kenya and that the Government had invested in a considerable number of projects in ICT infrastructure. He reiterated on the need to create and strengthen the relationship between the University, the Government, and the Private Sector. Dr. Matiang’i also emphasized on the importance of the culture of innovation and the commitment by the Government to link technology to the market so as to provide resources for commercialization.

Speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Affairs, Prof. Henry Mutoro, asserted, “The University is strategically positioned and endowed with a huge pool of talent and resources to continue providing leadership in technological innovation”. He confirmed that the University management was committed to seeing the initiative grow, and also challenged the drivers to see to it that set objectives are met.

Prof. P. Mbithi, Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration and Finance, Prof. P. Aduda, Principal College of Biological and Physical Sciences, Prof. Okello Odongo, Director SCI, Mr. Christopher A. Moturi, Deputy Director SCI, Prof. R. A. Obudho, who represented Dr. Betty Gikonyo, Chairperson of the University of Nairobi Alumni Association, several staff from the University of Nairobi, students, and alumni were also in attendance. The guests were served with scrumptious starters and a cocktail. It was a great opportunity for the Alumni community to meet up and touch base.

Plans are underway to hold similar events on a regular basis at the SCI. This would allow showcasing of innovations from the C4DLab, while building partnerships with the Private sector.

The 8th April 2014 was a remarkable day as C4DLab was activated and launched. The cocktail event, hosted by the school of computing and informatics,  served as the Launch of the Computing and Informatics Alumni chapter, as well as activation, promotion and support for C4D lab.

The guest speaker, ICT Cabinet Secretary Dr F.O Matiangi emphasized on the importance of culture of innovations and the commitment by the government to linking technology to the market and provide resources for commercialization.

UPDATE: see latest photos from the event here.

Speech by ICT Cabinet Secretary, Dr. F.O. Matiangi (source: Ministry website):

Speech by CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i during the launch of the Computing & Informatics alumni chapter of the UoN

Speech by Dr. Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology during the launch of the Computing & Informatics alumni Chapter of the University of Nairobi and support for computing development innovation lab (c4dlab) at Chiromo Campus on 8th April 2014 at 5.00pm

Vice-Chancellor – Prof. George A.O. Magoha

Deputy Vice-chancellors – Prof. Mbithi, Prof. Mutoro, Prof. Irungu and Prof. Mbeche

Principal, College of Biological and Physical Sciences – Prof. Bernard Aduda

Director, School of Computing and Informatics, Prof. Okello-Odongo

All University Staff present

Corporate partners present

Fellow Alumni

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to be here this evening to grace this occasion to launch the Computing and Informatics Alumni Chapter of the University of Nairobi and offer support for the Computing for Development Innovation Lab (C4DLab).

Indeed, the University of Nairobi is the largest university in Kenya with over 60,000 students and has over the years produced many accomplished alumni including the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, HE William Ruto, who is an alumni of the College and the Nobel Peace laureate, the late Hon. Prof. Wangari Maathai, among other high profile personalities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, we live in a world where ICT and innovation play a central role in the development of a nation. The Computing for Development Lab (C4DLab) we are unveiling today must tap into the incredible asset for support to develop new technological solutions for our society.

Technology has been the stimulus and catalyst of much of the global economic advances over the last several decades. It permeates every facet of our lives today in such areas like education, finance, health, communications, travel, manufacturing, entertainment, just to mention but a few. Technology transforms a society and it is therefore essential to build a knowledge economy that is competitive and flourishing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Kenya has become a hot bed of technology innovations, the success of M-Pesa being the most renowned. Many more innovations do exist. However, these innovations do not and will not happen by accident. We need to put in place structured innovation programmes that promote and inspire such innovations, and C4D Lab is doing the right thing by having a pragmatic and structured approach towards this end.

May I now take this opportunity to congratulate the University of Nairobi for setting up the C4DLab. I am reliably informed that the Lab has 12 incubatees already. This is quite encouraging as such innovations hubs are critical for our national development agenda as articulated in Vision 2030, the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy and the National ICT Master plan. We all have a duty to support noble initiatives such as this. And as a nation, we have to nurture a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among our students as a way of life in order to mould future citizens who will drive the economy of this country to a greater level.

I wish to challenge the C4D lab to partner with industry to commercialize innovations developed in this lab. Such partnerships are crucial for directing investments towards commercially promising research, and helping to bridge gaps that often exist at the technology development and marketing stages.

I also urge you to ensure that you graduate a good proportion of the icubatees as viable businesses as this is the only way we will make a difference in this country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a way of supporting the C4DLab, my Ministry will consider the following:

Sourcing for grants to fund the C4dLab incubation project.
Support new businesses to secure opportunities in the public sector using the 30% procurement preferential treatment for small and medium enterprise owned by the youth, persons with disability and women.
Together with my two Cabinet colleagues in charge of Education, Science and Technology and Industrialization, support the creation of a framework for venture capitalists and angel investors to provide seed funding for innovations and commercialization.
Sponsor an annual innovation entrepreneurship conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I conclude, I wish to point out that the Government’s key objective is to transform the Kenyan economy through ICTs by promoting and facilitating the private Sector to serve as the driver for economic development through innovation in the ICT. In order to achieve this, the Government will over the planned period encourage initiatives that will facilitate collaboration not only among stakeholders within a particular sector but across major sectors in order to secure the required synergies.

Finally, may I close my remarks with a notable quote from one of the world leaders, President Barack Obama of the United states of America, who on November 17, 2010 said: ’The key to our success… will be to compete by developing new products, by generating new industries, by maintaining our role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation. It’s absolutely essential to our future.’

Indeed, Kenya’s great future will be determined by technological initiatives such as this one.

With these remarks, I now want to officially launch the Computing and Informatics Alumni Chapter of the University of Nairobi and unveil the Computing for Development, C4D, Innovation Lab logo of the University.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of the evening.