Innovation in Africa

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Innovation Trail's Ryan Delaney recently returned from a reporting trip to Kenya. You can find more of his reporting here.

Kenya is eyeing technology as a way to propel it into the developing world, but the digital divide remains daunting.

The government here has made a major push to expand mobile technology and high speed internet and it's had some success, especially around mobile phones. Kenya has now set its sights on bigger projects, like Konza City, its plan for a $10 billion, 5,000 acre high tech city to be built outside of Nairobi.

Kenya, though, still struggles to stock public hospitals with medical supplies and fill potholes on its highways. So is it worth spending billions of dollars on glass cities and fiber optics?

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Innovation Trail's Ryan Delaney recently returned from a reporting trip to Kenya. You can find more of his reporting here.

Along the main road between Nairobi, the capital, and Mombasa, on the coast, sits the future home of Kenya's "Silicon Savannah," but right now it’s just a regular savannah. Dry grasslands stretch on for miles, except for a fenced-in plot where a few shacks house guards ready to greet visitors.

It’s here that the Kenyan government wants to build a 5,000 acre shiny high-tech city from the ground up. About 50 miles from the crowded, dirty and congested capital, Konza Techno City will be everything Nairobi isn’t.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Innovation Trail's Ryan Delaney recently returned from a reporting trip to Kenya. This is the second story in the series. You can find the rest of his reporting here.

Inside an office building along the main road leading west out of downtown Nairobi, is the heart Kenya’s startup community.

On the fourth floor, noisy kids are huddled around tables inside the iHub, Nairobi’s startup incubator space. Counselors are giving instructions to campers as they learn to build circuits and program small robots. The finished product zips around the floor, bumping into feet as kids crowd around in excitement.

When a summer camp hasn’t invaded the space, the iHub’s office is full of young programmers working on a mobile app or website.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Innovation Trail's Ryan Delaney recently returned from a reporting trip to Kenya. This is the first of the stories he filed. You can find the rest of his reporting here.

Trash and sewage is a common site along rutted dirt paths in Baba Dogo, one of the informal settlements, or slums, in the capital Nairobi. It all culminates in the middle of an open field.

"Before us is a community dump site," points out Sammy Aweti. "It’s where a majority of area residents come to dump their waste and their other garbages. So as you can see, it’s very piled."

Despite the highly visible trash heap, Baba Dogo’s waste doesn’t attract much attention. With no formal collection system, Justice Muhando explains, putting out the trash often turns into a game of hide-and-go-seek.

Follow our reporter on a trip to East Africa

Aug 26, 2013
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Here at the Innovation Trail, we generally cover the changing economy of upstate New York, but for the next few weeks, you'll have a chance to see how innovation and technology are changing one of Africa's largest economies: Kenya.

Reporter Ryan Delaney, normally based in Syracuse, will be traveling to East Africa for the next few weeks for a fellowship through the International Center for Journalists.