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"Hello, World!"

Another year is almost gone, a lot has happened in the tech-world; amazing solutions/ breakthroughs, businesses have been established, startups created and a whole lot of programming languages born. Innovation is indeed the catalyst to growth of any emerging economies through the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets.

A “Hello, World!” program is a computer program that outputs “Hello, World!” It’s a very simple program in most programming languages, it is often used to illustrate to beginner  programmers the basic syntax for constructing a working program.

We are definitely living in interesting times seeing tech evolve everyday to offer us better, easier and simpler ways to perform our tasks. A few years ago it was the ‘e-kitus’, then came the ‘m-kitus’ and now we are living in the age of ‘smart-kitus’, each of them we have enjoyed in a span of very few years. They say software is to tech while blood is to humans; “Hello, World!” therefore is the beginning of a new world of opportunities and endless possibilities. In the same wavelength, President Obama enthused everyone by writing code during the Hour of Code campaign.
Having held TechTrend, a tech focused meetup for 2 years now, I am definitely convinced that there’s too much technology to talk about.  Having done this for a while, it feels like we haven’t even scratched the surface. In fact, one of the most frequent comment is that the older generation in Kenya can hardly put up with technology. They actually still do fear it and would prefer old ways of doing stuff deeming them safer. Innovation is a daily affair, there is so much R&D going on around the world and too many innovative ideas are being born daily. Diverse developers sitting in the iHub and m:lab East Africa spaces try out different emerging programming languages, coming up with what may be the next big thing. An example this year is Shop Officer – a platform that enables businesses to track their sales and manage reward programs for their customers easily – which was first presented at the NFC  TechTrend meetup by @techytimo, and has made him visit Nigeria and the Hague amidst winning prizes.
8 years ago, while choosing which course I would pursue in campus I found it funny that Maseno University would integrate IT regardless of the course one was taking. A few years ago a friend of mine who was pursuing Bachelors in Education at the University, was asking me about HTML code and I was quite impressed. With the different trends in technology should the government focus on teaching basic IT and programming to all and sundry?
The tech-scene in Kenya has grown to form biz-tech clusters (interconnected business that support each other)  These clusters are considered to increase the productivity with which companies can compete in a global economy. Start-ups depend on telcos for services, on incubation hubs and tech spaces for networking, services pegged on payment gateways that integrate Kenyan solutions and many other ways. These have catapulted the tech-scene so much that most of the businesses in focus during the mid-year Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya were tech-related. On a personal note it has made working at Bishop Magua building such a great opportunity because I often rubbed shoulders (along the corridors, lifts or stairs) with some of the best in the tech-field in Kenya.
After recently reading ‘Start-up Nation’ by Senor Dan I am beginning to understand the importance of tech-startups in the growing of an economy. Since it birth in 1947 till now, Israel has enjoyed growth due to focus on tech innovation and it is amazing how most of the visitors at m:lab East Africa always talk of their visits around the world, but mostly Silicon Valley. Kenya having been mentioned as an investment hub by Business Daily, part of the emerging business world by Fortune has much to do with recent efforts by the government to accelerate ICT, infrastructure and wooing investors.  
I once had a debate with someone who said we are too focused on tech startups while there are diverse industries out there. I agree, but having been fortunate to see businesses like KopoKopo and Eneza Education begin with  few founders to tens of employees (many of them not developers) proves that it’s not about tech, it’s about building sustainable solutions that create employment for all. A good product will require more salesmen than core developers in order to get its name out there, will require human resource personnel and administrators to deal with office issues, will need accountants to keep up with KRA and its tax requirements, and so on.

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  • Should the government do more to help IT thrive in Kenya?
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  • Should we see a dedicated fund for IT startups and more recognition of their potential to change Kenya?
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  • Should more people be introduced to programming at an earlier age in order to tap talent from a tender age?

Well these are the thoughts running in my mind as we all seek for a better sustainable Kenya in the next years.

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