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Konza boss takes ICT innovation hub model to rural Kenya

By Brigid Chemweno | March 7th 2017 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

The Rift Valley Innovation Centre in Baringo County. [PHOTO: BRIGID CHEMWONO/ STANDARD

His love for technology and belief in what it can do for the country has seen him rise to head the ambitious Konza Technopolis project.

And now, John Tanui has extended this passion to his rural home with an ICT centre.

Together with other professionals, the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) CEO came up with the idea of establishing the Rift Valley Innovation Centre (RVIC) in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County.

“Together with professionals from my locality, we initiated the centre with the desire to contribute to the development of the community, and address the national challenges of unemployment and poverty,” Mr Tanui said.

The innovation centre aims to promote entrepreneurship, business incubation and mentorship by providing ICT infrastructure and expertise.

According to Tanui, RVIC will especially be relevant to the rising number of young entrepreneurs and unemployed college graduates.

“It will enable the youth to develop and market their innovations, as well as access business and job opportunities, and undertake academic research. The centre will also assist local farmers to solve farming problems and access market information,” he said.

“Although RVIC is primarily an ICT hub, it not only caters for technology-based ideas, but also creative start-ups in other sectors of the economy, among them agriculture and business. It is anticipated to also support those seeking employment by helping them access vacancies posted online.”

RVIC is located at the intersection of three counties – Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu – and is close to Nakuru, Nandi and Kericho counties.

It comprises a computer lab and library with a sitting capacity of 200 people, as well as conference facilities.

Robert Limo, the chairman of RVIC’s governing council, said despite the country’s impressive success in technological advancement, the digital divide between rural and urban communities remains wide.

Bridge the gap

“While urban communities enjoy unparalleled access to ICT tools and infrastructure, their rural counterparts are far behind. This newly established rural innovation hub is aiming to bridge this gap,” Justice Limo said.

The hub is run by a team of recent university graduates.

“Funding is provided by local professionals, community support and corporate agencies,” Tanui said.

Nicholas Kipkoech, a former student at Moi University’s law school, said RVIC would help the youth come up with innovative ideas that could improve their lives just like “Julius Yego, who found success after learning skills from YouTube.”

RVIC is also expected to benefit from the Government’s initiative to set up Constituency Innovation Hubs that will provide free Internet connectivity in 1,160 sites across the country.

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