Few weeks ago, Tekedia made a case that Kenyans are doing just fine in mobile app development largely because of the cross fertilization the foreign students that visit from US and Europe give them every summer. Kenya visa system is simple for the Americans – you get it at the point of entry. And within minutes on arrival, the visitor is in. So, they choose Kenya as the destination point for all their summer foreign trips that help to jack up their resumes.
From all indications, there is nothing extraordinaire about Kenyan educational system that makes it better. University of Nairobi has nothing unusual – still the old British model of more theory and less hands-on. So the schools cannot claim the glory.
Besides iHub which has emerged as the centre-piece of the Kenyan app renaissance, the key institution is eMobilis. The mission of eMobilis is to create opportunities for local talent by training them on Mobile and Wireless Cellular Technologies.
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eMobilis is part of the winning consortium, tasked by World Bank donor agency Infodev, with hosting the first Mobile Applications Laboratory in Africa. This is one of two labs established by the World Bank – the second lab is in South Africa, and will be run by a South African consortium comprising the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), The Innovation Hub, Innovation Lab and Ungana-Afrika.
Together with these institutions, the East Africans are doing better than the Western Africans.