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Google boss sees Nairobi as Africa's ICT leader

Thursday January 24 2013

The iHub lab in Nairobi. Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt is touting Nairobi as the potential leader of Africa's information technology revolution January 24, 2013. FILE

The iHub lab in Nairobi. Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt is touting Nairobi as the potential leader of Africa's information technology revolution January 24, 2013. FILE 

By KEVIN KELLEY

Google's executive chairman is touting Nairobi as the potential leader of Africa's information technology revolution.

In a blog posting about his recent visit to five black African countries, Google chief Eric Schmidt wrote on Tuesday that "Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become Africa's leader".

Mr Schmidt cited "a combination of relatively stable politics, the British legal system, and a benign climate" as factors that attract "a significant share of foreign investment."

"If they manage to get through the upcoming March elections without significant conflict," he added in regard to Kenya's tech enterprises, "they will grow quickly."

Mr Schmidt singled out M-Pesa as an example of Kenya's tech proficiency.

"Incubators [in Nairobi] are hosting potential solutions to many problems," he wrote, describing M-Pesa as a "mobile money solution on simple phones using SMS."

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While in Kenya last week, Mr Schmidt toured the country's first innovation centre, the iHub. He also spoke at Strathmore University about education as empowerment for young people.

Google's Kenya subsidiary hosted a gathering in November of some 500 techies from various business sectors to discuss the role high tech will play in helping develop the country.

Mr Schmidt also made stopovers in Rwanda, South Sudan, Nigeria and Chad.