It is often said, that Nairobi is the Silicon Valley of Africa. You are the Executive Director of an NGO that aims to empower Kenyans to utilize digital technologies. How would you describe the Kenyan ecosystem and your digital environment?

It is true! Kenya adopts very fast to new technologies. And many tech companies come here to try their new products and further develop them. But if you think it was only a bubble of start-ups and tech savy young people in Nairobi that adapt quickly to new technologies, I don’t think so. Look at the MPESA payment method via smartphone, it quickly evolved from the city to the provinces. It works very good, it’s easy to use, safe and provides a valuable alternative to cash. So to say, if the product works and is designed to the customers’ needs, Kenyans in general are very open to new technologies.

So Nairobi is a hotspot and place to be.

It’s a very dynamic place with a lot of development going on.
But you know, there’s also a gap that is opening fast since IT skills have become basic requirements for everyone calling for more efforts from actors.

How would you define the role of your NGO EmpServe Kenya?

We empower young people to use the latest technologies to solve social challenges, so that no person is left behind. As our government has changed the administrative structure of Kenya from 7 regions to 47 counties, we want to build grassroots hubs in every county bridging ICT gap. These hubs are called DigiLabs and their aim is to train grassroots communities on basic digital literacy and entrepreneurship skills. The hubs also serves as resource centres promoting information access and increase employability among the youth.

A big part of our work is to find ways to simplify technical solutions to promote utilization of ICT to solve social challenges in the local grassroots communities and bring positive impact in the society. That is very important work! It seems to be a perfect fit with the mission of the European Youth Award!

Thank you. Yes, we co-operated with the European Youth Award in the #MYouth Program and two of our projects – a community health data platform named Ushauri and Beacon Inclusive participated in the Continental App Camp in Ghana and latter a Business Development Training in Macedonia! It is an amazing experience for young people to be invited to such an experience and become part of an international network and community.

We are looking forward to many more cooperations and hoping to meet again soon!