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This article was published on June 21, 2011

Kenya launches Africa’s first mobile apps lab

Kenya launches Africa’s first mobile apps lab
Nmachi Jidenma
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Nmachi Jidenma

Nmachi Jidenma is a tech and business leader. To get in touch, follow her on Twitter or email her at [email protected] Nmachi Jidenma is a tech and business leader. To get in touch, follow her on Twitter or email her at [email protected]

Kenya recently launched Africa’s first mobile apps lab, m-lab.

The facility is aimed at encouraging innovation in the East African country and is supported by the World Bank, Nokia and the Government of Finland.

Set up in Nairobi, the lab will initially house six startups and is hosted by the iHub Consortium, a consortium that includes Nairobi’s iHub, eMobilis, the World Wide Web Foundation, and the University of Nairobi School of Computing and Informatics.

The Kenyan Government has shown keen interest in the lab.

According to Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s Ministry of ICT’s Permanent Secretary, “a problem to overcome is that people don’t collaborate enough. If we can begin to widen and collaborate through facilities like m:lab, the mobile applications emerging from the region will become more successful. After incubation, these ideas will be shifted from the labs to the business commercial sector,” he said.

Currently, ICT constitutes about 5% of Kenya’s GDP. The hope is that initiatives such as the m-lab will help boost ICT’s contribution to the Kenyan economy.

“In Kenya, it’s clear that there is a lot of potential in ICT,” the World Bank’s Country Director for Kenya, Johannes Zutt said. “We are working with Kenya to promote areas where we think it will flourish – tourism and ICT.”

The lab was officially launched a day after East African developers pitched their mobile app  ideas to judges in the Pivot25 mobile app developer contest held in Nairobi. You can read our earlier post on the contest here.

In addition to East Africa’s m-lab, the World Bank also aims to roll out m-labs in South Africa, Armenia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

For more on opportunities in the East African tech space, read this post on why Nairobi is exploding as East Africa’s tech hub.