Infodev Global Forum, East London, South Africa

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I am heading to Africa again, one year after my trip to the World Bank event in Kenya. Now I will speak in the innovation ecosystems track: This session will explore the relative roles the public and private sectors play in facilitating innovation, innovative enterprises and a productive economy.”

Living labs, open data and community-driven smart cities on the agenda. More insights when I get there.

Open Data in Kenya

I was fortunate to be invited by the World Bank to Nairobi, to participate in a round table organised by the Kenya Open Data Initiative and then to the Open Innovation Africa Summit.

The level of understanding the challenges regarding Open Data is high, but  combined with a genuine enthusiasm about Open Data as an accelerator of innovation. And they are moving fast. For example, Kenya is starting a code fellowships program following the Code4America model – before anyone has done it in Europe.

The OIAS deep dive tackled the innovation challenges in Africa; the full report is still on its way, but you can find a good partial report in the Balancing Act blog.

So, what’s next? It seems that we are doing something right with Helsinki Region Infoshare because Petri Kola from our office (and Aalto University) is travelling back to Nairobi this week, to participate in an open data WS using Design Thinking methods.

For boosting innovation in Africa, I think that networked local hubs like M-lab are critical. Living Labs for user-driven, grassroots-level innovation could really make the difference here.

Keep an eye on Kenya & the rest of Africa. The challenges they face are gigantic, but so is the drive.