Recap of Techfugees Kenya July 2020 meetup 🇰🇪
At the relaunch in June 2020, we promised Techfugees Kenya community a series of activities ranging from meetups, bootcamps and Hackathons. And guess what, a few weeks later we were more excited to host our first meetup in July 2020. With displaced persons facing numerous challenges with regards to inequalities in technology it was so critical to discuss and get more ideas into improving the situation. Technology has revolutionised the way we communicate, learn and live and has become an integral part of how we learn, work, access basic social services, etc..
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to tough times especially for displaced persons who face numerous challenges to access technology Investing in technologies and innovations such as emerging technologies and internet connectivity is thus essential to solve numerous issues that displaced persons face for continual running of their local activities – both of educational and economic nature
Techfugees Kenya works on areas where technology meets real needs of displaced persons and we were delighted to explore how different technologies contribute towards supporting displaced communities by bringing closer to them services which may include education, healthcare, identification and employment. The topic of this meetup was Technologies and innovations that can be leveraged to support displaced persons. We had three experienced panelists, Bernice Nyoike, Program Manager, Start up Support at iHUB, John Kimani, Program Manager at Google Kenya, and Eunice Maingi Project Coordinator at iLAB Africa. They all explored and discussed widely and deeply on the topic with critical insights to enlighten us even more.
To start us off was Mary Munyoki, Techfugees Kenya Chapter Co-lead who welcomed all attendees and panelists to the July 2020 meetup and further moderated the entire event. Quickly, Philomena Mwangi, Techfugees Kenya Chapter Co-lead, gave an overview of the topic and introduced the panelists. The discussion revolved around some of the technologies and innovations that can be leveraged to support displaced persons with a focus on infrastructure and capacity building among displaced persons and host communities to empower them through technology. Additionally, we mentioned the important aspect of some of the innovative ways that authorities, various stakeholders and the private sector can initiate to facilitate technology accessibility and connectivity amongst displaced persons.
Our first speaker was Eunice Maingi, highlighting the importance of social inclusion in emerging technology such as blockchain on identification and the need of changing our perspective on displaced persons to ensure we leverage on innovation to support them.
Second was Bernice Nyoike, who shared a human centred design portrayed as a bottom up approach on customizing innovations to the refugee context and ensuring applicability to their needs. Further, she pointed out the fact that refugee camps should be viewed as engines of economic growth where connection and education are to be prioritized and where there is a need of critical information to support decision making in private sector investment.
Some of the capacity building recommendations included setting up community technology access centres, technology entrepreneurship skills training and mobile assisted language learning (literacy development & foreign language learning) We couldn’t agree more that countries need a scope to engage in innovation enhancing their capabilities, learning by doing and strengthening tertiary education.
Finally, John Kimani, shared on the projects such as Lipa Mdogo Mdogo, Google Loon, Equiano Cable route that support displaced persons and the necessity of an enabling environment between the government and private sector to ensure technology investments are rolled out to support refugees.
During our community sharing experience, we were thrilled to also host the Kakuma Ventures an organisation providing Internet connectivity in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Innocent Tshilombo, , Founder, Kakuma Ventures shared more insights on what can be done to reduce the existing economic and business gaps. Measures such as infrastructure investment or policy reviews to enhance access to more resources and knowledge could be a good way to start. That being said, it is with no doubt that we can say; the meetup was a great success. Wondering what’s up next? Stay tuned for interesting technology bootcamps and hackathons.
If you missed the meetup, watch the replay here 💻