Startups And Mobile Money Among Reasons Why Nairobi Is Africa’s Best


Earlier in the week, Kenya’s capital Nairobi was listed among the top 21 most intelligent cities around the world, making it the smartest city in the African continent as it was the only African city to get a mention in the list.

This is the second time Nairobi is placing as Africa’s best in the annual ranking report from the Intelligent Community Forum, which seeks to recognize communities that understand the challenges of the broadband economy and have taken conscious steps to create an economy capable of prospering in it.

According to the forum, the ranking is usually achieved based on various factors that include the use of innovation, education and technology in solving real world problems affecting the communities that we live in.

In the mentioned three, it is no doubt that the East African city deserves a mention in the top as the city has centered its new developments on innovations and technology adoption in the various sectors that contribute largely to the economy, including the education sector.

This recognition comes at a time when the government has stressed on the importance of digitizing operations, so that the use of cash can be completely eliminated in all government processes as well as private organizations in order to improve services to citizens.

“We want to make it possible that in the next six months one can pay through M-Pesa, credit cards, and in every conceivable way on a digital platform,” said the Deputy President in a recent launch for a portal to improve operations in the mining sector.

This development is a confirmation that Nairobi is indeed keen on using technology to ease operations as is required by the Intelligent Community Forum for the purpose of ranking. The forum says it also looks at how government policies or private businesses are utilizing technology.

“We also look at innovation, whether the local government for example or private businesses are using technology and broadband and to make citizens’ life easier,” said Louis Zacharilla, co-founder Intelligent Community Forum.

Apart from the clear confirmation of technology uptake in operations, the East African city has also demonstrated its commitment in gathering new ideas from people across the country through its wide range of Startup hubs and making those ideas into solutions for improving lives and a better economy.

The ever-growing initiatives that have become part of the city’s culture are another reason why Nairobi maintains first position in the ranking. “We also look at innovation to see if it’s part of the culture. For example, is there a creative culture? Are people thinking about new ideas,” says Zacharilla.

New ideas for Kenya is an ongoing culture that is growing every day, with these major ideas being hosted at various hubs in the city, including iHub, Nailab, Nairobi Garage, iBiz Africa at Strathmore University as well as through foundations such as Safaricom’s Zindua Café and the recent Centum.

These are just but to mention a few as the capital is a habitat for more, with all being supported largely by the government, through the Ministry of ICT who are keen to tap on huge ideas that can be incorporated into government programs for a better connected Kenya.

And in all the glory of technology use and digitization in operations, we cannot forget the number one pride of Nairobi and Kenya as a whole and that is the mobile money sector. Flourishing and growing every day because of the popular and successful M-Pesa.

Because of the growing trend, the Nairobi folk now pay for parking fees through mobile money, water bills are also done through mobile, electricity is done through mobile, and so are other government services as well as private from shopping cars to buying furniture and even cutlery. All from the comfort of one’s home or office.

So Nairobi did not make it to the final seven, scheduled to battle it out for the first position globally later in June, but it is only a matter of time, a growth in innovations, speedy uptake of latest technologies and education for the needed skills to match the technologies, that is needed to see the city get to the top.

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