Kenya has covered quite some strides in terms of software developments, typically mobile-based apps. Hardware developments however fail to replicate the trend, although this is bound to change.
Many hackathons and developer challenges in Kenya have concentrated on coming up with software that capable of addressing some of the challenges the country faces, but what about hardware developers? Have they been left out?
Speaking to HumanIPO, Kenya ICT Board’s chief executive Paul Kukubo said the issue needs to be addressed.
“I think we should encourage more hardware exploration that is for sure,” he said, adding that, “but remember one thing about hardware, [it] makes sense to produce when you do it in very large quantity. That way the cost per hardware is small. That’s the reason why Apple manufactures in China.”
Kukubo however expressed fears that the sector would not fair well if the production numbers are low. “But it doesn’t mean that we should stop inventing. I think we should see more inventions,” he added.
In other parts of Africa, there have been developments in hardware innovations including the Cardiopad, which helps in medical checkups. Invented by Arthur Zang, a young Cameroonian engineer, the portable technology has received numerous mentions in international press due to the solution its aiming to provide to rural doctors.
“Many people who can write code can write code that run machines. Inventing machines that are used in farming, in healthcare, we certainly need to see a lot more of that,” Kukubo went on to exude optimism.
He said: “The more we get people who can write software, the more we will get people who can transform into that area.”
The FabLab hosted in the University of Nairobi, has some of those inspiring hardware technologies including FabFi, a low cost Wi-Fi transponder made from wire mesh, which can project for many kilometers. Others include an electronic voting machine.