We’re still thrilled about last week’s ThingsCon in Nairobi! we held a one day event that coved everything from building responsible tech to scaling hardware businesses in emerging markets. ThingsConNBO marked a great mile stone for us and was a very special event in many ways:
It was the very first ThingsCon on the African continent.
After years of planning (and fundraising) we were incredibly excited to join forces with the German Society for International Collaboration (GIZ) and Berlin-based agency for open culture r0g to bring ThingsCon to Nairobi. Together with our friends at Gearbox, a Nairobi-based maker space, specialized in hardware and IoT, we invited various speakers and companies from Nairobi to share their point of view on what a responsible Internet of Things might look like. Many topics discussed focussed on challenges and opportunities for connected hardware in Africa, on the importance of identifying relevant problems in the first place and on how big the challenge of scalable hardware manufacturing in Africa still remains.
It was the most diverse ThingsCon yet:
And while even for the very first ThingsCon in 2014 we teamed up with the Global Innovation Gathering, a global network of innovation hubs, we pushed this collaboration quite a bit further for Nairobi, inviting many speakers and guests from around the world. ThingsConNBo featured BRCK, Kenya’s first and arguably most popular connected hardware product, as well as PayGo (a connected Gas-valve to allow for micro-transactions), and the Access to Skills and Knowledge Kit #ASkoteK, a brilliant initiative to bring technology and skills to refugee camps in South Sudan and Uganda. The creators Jaikasana and Abdulmalik, who were both forced to leave South Sudan by the conflict, were on stage and showcased their kit to a deeply impressed audience. In a similar vein, Gabi Agustini of Brazil-based maker initiative OLABI highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in IoT design. And David Li of Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab floored the audience with impressive examples and perspectives on global innovation and manufacturing networks.
It was the ThingsCon that sold out quickest, ever.
Talking about the audience. With about 300 registered participants, ThingsConNBO was packed! For a full day, we had 20 speakers, very engaged discussions, and plentiful insights into projects and products around building a responsible, human-centered Internet of Things. We were amazed by the engagement and dedication not only of the crew, but by everyone who joined us. Even more so in a city, that took traffic jam to a whole new level we had people join us from places as far as Mombasa, a full 10h drive, just to meet the speakers, which was truly humbling. The audience was incredibly engaged (#ThingsConNBO was quickly trending in Kenya) and as diverse as ever, with a tech-savvy community of entrepreneurs, researchers, designers, and activists that joined us to share their ideas, questions, and perspectives with the crowd. In discussions and meet ups well after the event itself, many new ideas and projects were discussed and we can’t wait to see what might come out of them.
We will have more photos, recaps, and even videos coming in over the coming days. For now it is safe to say, that ThingsConNBO might have been the first event in Africa – but certainly not the last. A huge thank you to everyone who made this a special day. We will be back with more news on future events very soon. As always, stay tuned on twitter and join our newsletter to be among the first to learn about it.