Kenyans in the tech industry have been cautioned to stop copying Silicon Valley’s model by a panel of experts attending the Mobile Web East Africa conference in Nairobi. The experts warned copycat models “simply don’t work”.
Will Mutua, founder of Afrinovator, said Kenya is still far from deserving the ‘Silicon Savannah’ title.
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“I have my own doubts if Kenya should really be called Africa’s ‘Silicon Savannah’, as we have witnessed a worrying trend in the type of companies being started, most of which are based on apps,” Mutua said. He expressed his concern that many Kenyans, and Africans as a whole, expect things to happen within a short period of time, yet the likes of Silicon Valley have been developing for close to 50 years.
“Some things simply take time. Let us not assume things will happen overnight,” Mutua added. He advised startup companies and technopreneurs in particular to move away from merely basing their companies on one app and calling it a business, and to ensure that they have all the other details and plans that make a company complete.
“To have a company, you need to have a vision, plan, strategy etc, and this is something that is currently missing in the ‘Silicon Savannah’,” Mutua explained. He said that only companies that have these things in their plan will be termed as real sustainable businesses that can stand the test of time.
Contributing to the same discussion, TMS Ruge, co-founder at Project Diaspora USA/Uganda, said: “Kenya should be more of a ‘Digital Savannah’ and not ‘Silicon Savannah’. We are yet to manufacture things here, and most of the companies we have here are based on digital solutions.”
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