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TMCNet:  Nokia, World Bank Team to Promote Mobile APPs

[June 17, 2011]

Nokia, World Bank Team to Promote Mobile APPs

Nairobi, Jun 17, 2011 (The Nation/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- Mobile application development in Kenya is slowly gaining traction as players move to tap the growing pool of technology entrepreneurs.

The World Bank, in partnership with mobile handset maker, Nokia, the Finish Government and iHub Consortium, Thursday opened a new incubation facility for entrepreneurs and innovators with a bias for mobile technology.

Known as m-Lab East Africa, the facility aims to encourage innovation and competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in ICT. It will provide an enabling environment for innovators and entrepreneurs to convert their ideas into viable businesses. "We must move to change from a minimalist approach to something better. We are going to do whatever it takes. We must begin to invest in research," Dr Bitange Ndemo, the PS in the Ministry of Information and Communications said.

The facility, based at Bishop Magua Building, on Ngong Road is hosted by the iHub Consortium that includes Nairobi's iHub, eMobilis, the World Wide Web Foundation, and the University of Nairobi School of Computing and Informatics. Kenya hopes to emulate the gains made by India in the software development arena.

"In Kenya, it's clear is a lot of potential in ICT," World Bank country director, Johannes Zutt said. "We are working with Kenya to promote areas where we think it will flourish - tourism and ICT." m-Lab East Africa is one of the labs World Bank is supporting globally through the infoDev programme, in partnership with Nokia and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. It has also selected hosts for m-Labs in South Africa, Armenia, Pakistan and Vietnam. Ken Oyolla, general manager for Nokia East and Southern Africa said the firm will support testing labs with equipment, training and events.

Finnish ambassador Heli Sirve, said technological innovation can turn into economic growth. "I hope that m-Lab will succeed in generating new mobile applications and improve people's lives in Kenya and East Africa," Ms Sirve said.

"An old town in Finland, 25 years ago started a similar m-Lab and today, the people of the region have benefited greatly and are very successful." Incubation centres including KeKobi, iHub and Nai Lab, University of Nairobi's FabLab and Strathmore's iLab host about 3,000 software developers.

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