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UN-Habitat, Ericsson and Strathmore select Kiambu County for pilot project to address urban challenges in Kenya

By James Wanzala | October 6th 2015

Kiambu County has been selected to pilot a project seeking to engage the youth in developing and utilising technology to solve urban challenges facing the country.

The initiative, dubbed Urban Hackday, is part of a larger project known as the Innovation Marketplace, a pilot programme being undertaken by UN Habitat in collaboration with Ericsson and Strathmore University, to develop, test and implement technology solutions in the counties.

With oversight from mentors from local government, technology companies and urban practitioners, teams have been formed around major challenge areas. These challenges were developed with input from counties and fall under four main themes: local economy, city planning, urban basic services and local governance.

The teams were formed following an event last week at Strathmore University’s Nairobi campus, which attracted more than 40 participants, five county representatives from Kiambu and five mentors.

Traffic data

Mat Q were the winners, with a web and mobile application for automating stage management at matatu terminals, and provision of PSV traffic data that a county can use to improve revenue collection, and when formulating expansion plans.

The process of rolling out the application in Kiambu County has begun.

Speaking at the Strathmore event, Robert Rudin, Ericsson Kenya’s country managing director, noted that: “By 2050, about 70 per cent of the world’s population is expected to reside in urban areas. This explosive growth, combined with the rapid uptake of broadband, creates new opportunities to address economic, environmental and social challenges.

“Ensuring African cities are connected and sustainable will improve the lives of millions of people. We are, therefore, excited to see the ideas of these young innovators that could potentially transform how we live, play and do business.”

The Innovation Marketplace project is aimed at taking advantage of three key dynamics in Kenya: a growing number of young urban citizens, the proliferation of ICT and the devolution process.

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