To Mombasa and Back: Connected Kenya Summit!

This past week has seen me shuttle between Mombasa, Nairobi, Mumias and back again to Nairobi. I went to Mombasa for the connected Kenya 2012 summit, big tings agwan! I think what I’m trying to say is the connected summit is Kenya’s biggest ICT conference. The top (and everyone) industry players were there. Kenya ICT board, Ministry of ICT, Safaricom, Orange, Google, SAP, Microsoft etc. The event took place in South Coast at a 5 start hotel. Conference delegates were spread out among beach resorts near Leisure Lodge because we all could not fit in one hotel.

Together with some delegates, I flew on Monday from JKIA in Nairobi to Moi Airport in Mombasa. Since I live near the airport in Nairobi, I did not have to worry about traffic to the airport. From the airport in Mombasa to South Coast, we took a bus and had one of my scariest rides: the ferry. There is always traffic around the ferry area so it took us 2 hours to get to our hotel in South Coast! However, if you can afford it, you should fly to Ukunda Airstrip in South Coast, just 5 KM away from the major resorts. Then you don’t have to go through Moi Mombasa Airport and the mess that is the ferry crossing.

People and human traffic at the ferry crossing in Likoni, Mombasa. Image from

Every day of the conference ended with cocktails and dinner, sponsored by one company or the other. We all know what happens when you place free food and drink before a Kenyan; restraint is thrown out of the window. Moderation ceases to exist. And when the hotel finally closed down, like all people chasing after a fast life, most people went to the only club that kicks it in South Coast: Shark Attack. I hope that’s how it is spelt. The bad thing about staying out so late is that you end up missing the whole morning sessions of the following day.

I made it a point to swim every morning before breakfast at the Indian Ocean Beach Resort swimming pool, where I was staying. You couldn’t really swim in the ocean in the mornings because you’d find the water had retreated but you could take a walk and watch the sun rise over the ocean if you are the type to admire sunrise. Which I am.

The swimming pool at Indian Ocean beach club. Image from

Wednesday night was the last night of the conference and Safaricom/ICT Board held the party of parties. We were welcomed to dinner on the beach by beauties handing out branded kangas/kikoys. I located a seat and ordered my drink on the rocks, except the ice cubes melted so fast in the Mombasa temperatures. The atmosphere was great, people were in great spirits and I remember at one point I had a glass of one in one hand, knee-deep in the shallow beach water and staring at the expansive ocean as the waves came crashing in. I remember thinking that right there, is life.

A woman sips wine and watches the sun set over the ocean. Image from

Eric Omondi on a camel with some funny jokes, some repeated, some fresh. Wyre the Love Child on Stage, electric! Some dancing competition and someone winning phones/laptops/tablets. Wyre with that guy who sings in Kikuyu (just remembered JB Maina.) More wine, but this time the waiter decided to leave the bottle on the table so I could refill at leisure. At the dance floor again. Giving out phone to a trusted friend so I don’t lose it. Talking to people, everyone starts pouring out their hearts. Is that a dare I hear? Off to the ocean then.. I win my dare. Kshs. 500. But the sucker refuses to pay! Getting pissed and taking off. Oh, my bottle is still there. Meeting some new people, accepting business cards with a promise to get in touch. I should leave before someone does something they might regret. A good friend gets me a cab to the hotel. I get up at 8am on Thursday morning, one hour later than I had hoped. That is how I missed my return flight.

Thursday morning was a frantic rush to pack and check out of the hotel and rush to the airport. We arrived there at noon, one hour after scheduled take-off. Lucky for those of us who missed our flights, KQ sometimes operates like a matatu. We got seats in the next flight with no extra charges.

I took time on Friday to catch up on work and stuff. Since it was Easter, I’m still ignoring school work until Tuesday evening when I attend my first class a week after we opened school!

Saturday night found me on my way to Mumias to watch AFC Leopards play Rangers, but that is a story for the next post!

Connected Kenya 2012 Summit

This was the 4th time that the Kenya ICT board was organizing the Connected Kenya summit, arguably Kenya’s biggest conference involving local players. All stake holders in the ICT industry were represented, from government agencies & parastatals to NGOs, to the private sector companies like Safaricom, Orange Kenya, IBM, Microsoft, Google among others.

I must thank the Kenya ICT Board & Safaricom for sponsoring me with the whole shebang- flight to and from Diani, accomodation & meals, cost of conference. I went in my capacity as a blogger, though some people are yet to understand exactly what a blogger is/does!

The conference took place at Leisure Lodge Resort in Diani, South Coast, from Monday 2nd April to Thursday, 5th April.

Panelists during a discussion at the summit. The audience was always bathed in green semi-darkness, maybe Safaricom colours?

A lot of discussions took place, mostly centered along the theme: “Knowledge. and Beyond” As I explained to someone who commented on this theme:

A knowledge based economy is what Kenya needs to be if it is to achieve vision 2030. So knowledge and beyond now.. we need to think of the future. We have data but this in itself is not useful. It must be transformed into information and from that we get KNOWLEDGE and then hopefully wisdom. ~ Catherine Ngahu, Chair of the ICT Board of Kenya.

Since its formation about 5 years ago, the ICT Board was mandated to create an environment for the growth of ICT in Kenya. ICT is one of the major pillars of Vision 2030, and the Konza City project falls under here. The discussion on Konza City can be a never-ending one, but in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with planned cities. This project will not be a while elephant, we all need to work hard to see it succeed. Who wouldn’t love a technology city?

The Business Process Outsourcing Center of the proposed Konza City

The one thing that came up during the discussions is the way in which we talk a lot, but do little. The papers have been written, and written well. Implementation is the problem, with a lot of blame being shifted around. Task forces should be created and charged with implementation of sound proposals/policies. The government in Kenya is no longer the ‘hindrance’ it seemed, but nowadays it works and collaborates with the private sector on many projects.

To read more about the discussions at the Connected Kenya 2012 Summit, please check out

  • Techweez: Day One and Day Two
  • The conference ended with Vision 2030 awards, where Kenyans who have developed ICT solutions that drive economic growth and social development as outlined in Kenya’s Vision 2030 were recognized.

    The beach at Leisure Lodge Resort, Diani. It was endless sun, sand and blue skies! This is where the beach party was held. Dress code: no shoes!

Read about the awards here. The overall winner of the awards was a startup by 3 Kenyan professionals called Medisoft East Africa Limited. Other winners were Green Dreams Tech Ltd for their product iCow in the Agriculture category; Digital Divide Data Kenya Ltd, in the Business Process Outsourcing sector; Kuza Biashara Ltd who bagged the award in Education and Training; and Tusqee Systems Ltd a runner up in the same grouping.

The conference ended with a dinner/beach party sponsored by Safaricom and ICT Board. You have to love the fine and white sands at Diani!

The beach party that was 🙂

P.S. Coming Soon: My Personal Experiences Post on Connected Kenya 2012.

Connected Kenya Summit 2012: 2-5 April, Diani.

I’ll be leaving for Diani, South Coast, this afternoon to take part in the 4th edition of the Connected Kenya conference. The main sponsors are Safaricom and the Kenya ICT Board. This is the biggest local ICT conference, bringing together many stakeholders in the industry, from government to telecommunication companies to IT businessmen and women.

The theme of this year’s conference is Knowledge and Beyond.

The theme for Connected Kenyan 2012

The Summit kicks off with the Waziri Golf Challenge on Monday April 2.

Hon Samuel Pogishio, Minister Information and Communications will open the Summit on the morning of April 3 followed by keynote speakers Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom. Also speaking in the opening session are Dr Bitange Ndemo, PS Ministry of Information and Communications, Catherine Ngahu, Chairman of the Kenya ICT Board.

Confirmed Speakers

Some of the confirmed keynote speakers for this year’s Summit include:

Michael Ghossein | CEO, Orange

Gary Cohen | General Manager, Communications and Chairman, IBM Africa

Mike Macharia | CEO, Seven Seas Technology

Louis Otieno | CEO, Microsoft

Joshua Chepkwony | CEO, Jamii Telcom

and many others.

I look forward to enjoying the interaction at the conference as well as my stay at Leisure Lodge Resort. This Oasis Pool below shall know me! I do love swimming and the coastal weather is perfect for a morning swim before the conference starts! 🙂