Nairobi – the Newest Tech Hub

david k donovan nailabAs of late, Nairobi Kenya has earned a nickname as “Silicon Savannah”.  The capital city of Kenya is rapidly establishing itself as a tech hub in the developing world. Upon initial inspection, it may not seem like Nairobi lends itself to being a startup epicenter. However, due to the city’s adaptable bankings system, wealth of recent STEM graduates from Nairobi colleges, it’s not really a surprise that this city is becoming an ever expanding metropolis for e-commerce.

This is not to say that the city doesn’t face any problems with the explosion of the tech sector. The city has its fair share of problems regarding security, governmental bureaucracy and lengthy waiting periods for corporate registration are all legitimate deterrents for young startups. However, in spite of these obstacles,  Nairobi persists as a hotbed of tech-based entrepreneurial activity.

Furthermore, with the rising popularity and accessibility of mobile phones and devices, the market for these tech based companies is expanding. Currently, Nairobi houses 242 startups and almost 2,000 investors. But what is it that incited this growth in tech companies? and what is fueling such rapid growth?

In addition to internationally-known companies like IBM designating Nairobi as a new headquarter, the Kenyan government has stepped in to provide incentives and assistance for those companies looking to base their startups there. For example, only two years ago in 2013, the government paired with and incubator Nailab and started a 1.6 million dollar tech venture that would allow entrepreneurs access to monetary resources, information and connections to people within the industry in a position to help them develop.

The program supported by this partnership lasts for three to six months, and the subsequent graduates have resulted in a number of important and visible tech companies, who may not have otherwise come onto the scene so strong without the initial aid and mentorship so evident in this kind of program. In addition to an actively supportive atmosphere for these new ventures is a very clear opportunity within the mobile sector.

Between 2010 and 2014, internet penetration expanded from 14 percent to 43% of the Kenyan population having access to the internet. In addition to this significant increase in internet access, currently 82% of Kenyans own a cell phone, which is a HUGE market.

In addition to the explosion within the digital and mobile markets in Nairobi and the rest of Kenya, Nairobi is a quickly expanding city in Kenya, and is seen as  a fast growing city to watch throughout Africa! Not just in Kenya.