iHub Research (2011 - 2017): a critical technology action research group within Nairobi's flagship tech innovation hub

Cite as:

Okune, Angela, Philip Ochola Mak'Anyengo, Sylvester Wachira Ndaiga, Sidney Ochieng, Rhoda Omenya, Chris Orwa, Nanjira Sambuli, and Varyanne Sika. 2018. "iHub Research (2011 - 2017): A Critical Technology Action Research Group Within Nairobi's Flagship Tech Innovation Hub." In STS Across Borders Digital Exhibit, curated by Aalok Khandekar and Kim Fortun. Society for Social Studies of Science. August.

Source: iHub Research

Essay Map

Beginnings

Infrastructures

Frameworks

Education

Topics

Engagements

Futures

Conditions

Events

People and Projects

Content Bibliography

Meta Level: iHub Research Okune, Angela, Philip Ochola Mak'Anyengo, Sylvester Wachira Ndaiga, Sidney Ochieng, Rhoda Omenya, Chris Orwa, Nanjira Sambuli, and Varyanne Sika. 2018. "iHub Research (2011 - 2017): A Critical Technology Action Research Group Within Nairobi's Flagship Tech Innovation Hub...Read more

Essay Meta-narrative

iHub Research was officially launched in 2011 at the one-year anniversary of the iHub, one of the first co-working spaces in sub-Saharan Africa. As an example of a non-traditional research organization, iHub Research bridged a gap between the academy, private sector, public sector, and technology entrepreneurs, producing work that while not explicitly identified as “STS,” in practice, was in line with the values and areas of interest of the field. As a non-academic research center striving to produce knowledge relevant for its community which could also be read by the academy and other stakeholders, we believe iHub Research should be considered a fundamental example of a key site of knowledge production offering critical perspectives on technology in Africa by and for the technology community in Kenya and beyond.

References

STS Across Borders In Brief

STS Across Borders is a special exhibit organized by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) to showcase how the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) has developed in different times, places and intellectual traditions. The gallery-style exhibit is part of the 2018 4S meeting in...Read more

Beginnings

Hersman, Erik. 2010. "(The Lack) of African ICT Research." WhiteAfrican.com.

AO: This blog post by Erik Hersman (co-founder of iHub) helps to outline why iHub was thinking of getting involved in supporting local research. It cites an...Read more

The name

In one of our strategy brainstorming sessions, we were advised by a well-intentioned American professor not to call what we were doing "research" because it would be held to particular (academic) standards and metrics that might not be appropriate for the work we were trying to do. The way I read...Read more

Rhoda Omenya on iHub Research origins

What do you think was unique about the type of work that iHub Research conducted? The tech scene in Kenya came to life I believe from 2010 when techies in Kenya had a space to come together and do great stuff as opposed to working as lone wolves (cue the 'alone I go faster, together we go further'...Read more

Infrastructures

Frameworks

Open to diverse backgrounds

What do you think was unique about the type of work that iHub Research conducted? It wasn't as supervised as most academic institutions. Also as it was an open research space, we had people with diverse and unique skill sets just walk in and start working on a project with strangers. It is very...Read more

Education

Wachira Ndaiga on iHub Research training

What do you think was unique about the type of work that iHub Research conducted? ... More personally, as a recently graduated Engineering student who had studied abroad (Malaysia), iHub Research presented an opportunity to develop my talent, career and professional interests as fashioned by the...Read more

Nanjira Sambuli on iHub Research Training

How did your initial work with iHub R help to bring you to where you are today? What were important lessons or values did you picked up along the way? My work at iHub Research was instrumental in building my expertise and understanding of the unfolding impacts of ICT adoption and how those impact...Read more

Chris Orwa on iHub Research Training

How did your initial work with iHub R as well as your experience building out the data science lab help to bring you to where you are today? What were important lessons or values that you picked up along the way? I joined iHub Research as data mining consult to provide machine learning expertise in...Read more

Sidney Ochieng on iHub Research Training

How did your initial work with iHub R help to bring you to where you are today? What were important lessons or values did you picked up along the way? I owe everything about where I am today to iHub R. It gave me an internship and then allowed me to stay on and work on some many cool projects. I...Read more
r@iHub research workshops (2011)

AO: I made this powerpoint for a two-hour workshop outlining qualitative research at the iHub on May 13, 2011. This was the first of a series of several workshops that iHub hosted on a weekly basis touching on a wide range of topics related to research. Other workshops included one on grant...Read more

Topics

Medium post: "iHub Research: The Big Picture"

AO: This post, published in March 2016 via Medium was part of the iQuarterly publication by iHub Research and sheds insight on the rationale behind the major topics of work undertaken by iHub Research.Read more

Engagements

AO: Part of iHub Research’s growth and popularity can be explained by its various modes of distributing research findings outside of traditional academic papers. iHubR used different ways of sharing information, whether by holding public events around research findings (e.g. #NRBuzz), guest lecturing to local university students, a quarterly newsletter, or preparing blog posts in easily understandable writing. Through these mechanisms, iHub Research engaged with varied public audiences.

Blog post: "New Draft AU Convention on Confidence and Security in Cyberspace that you should review"

AO: This blog post by Faith Morara and Nanjira Sambuli raised awareness about a draft convention, dubbed the "African Union Convention on Confidence and Security in Cyberspace,” that was  put forth by the AU in 2014. The post highlights the role that iHub Research played in helping to raise...Read more

Media Reception: Voice of America reports on Base of the Pyramid Findings

AO: This media interview with Voice of America is one of the better examples of nuanced reporting on our Base of the Pyramid research in 2013. I am including it in the exhibit because it illustrates one important part of the work we did at iHub Research - public outreach and sharing - and also a...Read more

iQuarterly 2014

RO: The iHub Research newsletter is something I am particularly proud of. Creating this quarterly newsletter was agonizing because I think it was a concept that was not owned by the team. But growing it from a simple layout to putting it on a newsletter template to improve its outlook and...Read more

Futures

Chris Orwa on Future Directions of STS in Africa

Chris Orwa (July 2018): "Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence the two technologies that are fast garnering interest in Kenya and Africa. For Blockchain, it promises to eradicate corruption which is endemic in the continent – developers and entrepreneurs are hoping to cash in on this craze and...Read more

Wachira Ndaiga on Future Directions of STS in Africa

Wachira Ndaiga (July 2018): "Given governmental support, I believe the growing interest in off-grid energy solutions evidenced by the growth of companies like Mkopa and Mobisol could prove to be a viable direction. The moderately high availability of ideal energy harvesting conditions through large...Read more

Nanjira Sambuli on Future Directions of STS in Africa

Nanjira Sambuli (July 2018): "There seems to be growing interest in researching innovation within STS, in academic institutions, as well as by multinational tech companies like Google (setting up an AI lab in Ghana), IBM Research (and their first Africa research centre in Nairobi), Microsoft (...Read more

Sidney Ochieng on Future Directions of STS in Africa

Sidney Ochieng (July 2018): "So much blockchain, this is very much still in the hype stage; I’m still not sure of the practical uses. Lending is huge but it is very focused on personal small loans, but movement to other sectors. There’s farmtech and of course there is a lot of excitement around big...Read more

Angela Okune on the future directions of STS in Africa

Angela Okune (June 6, 2018): I think that future research related to science and technology in/from/on Africa should look at research infrastructures, that is, the technical, legal, political, economic and social infrastructures that have been and are being established to produce knowledge. I think...Read more

Conditions

Wachira Ndaiga on External Conditions

Wachira Ndaiga (July 2018): " The need for verifiable data on and insights into the Kenya market and region strikes me as a key factor, the dearth of which is still notable today . Similarly directed work is undertaken by companies and institutions such as IBM Research, Phillips Innovation Hub as...Read more

Chris Orwa on External Conditions

Chris Orwa (July 2018): " "iHub Research success came from the gap in the market for relevant research for the general community. One pillar that led to rise of iHub Research was the mode of distributing research findings. Instead of academic papers, the idea of holding events around research...Read more

Angela Okune on External Conditions

Angela Okune (May 2018): "A productive tension for iHub Research was navigating the balance between producing relevant work in the service of the Kenyan technology sector while simultaneously acting as a grounding point of reference to remind technology evangelists that technology does not exist in...Read more

Nanjira Sambuli on External Conditions

Nanjira Sambuli (July 2018): "Existing within one key node of the tech ecosystem in Kenya – the iHub- was a strong value proposition for iHub Research [because it enabled] direct, constant and consistent engagement with the innovators, as well as building links with communities of would-be users of...Read more
Medium Post: "Lessons Learned from Conducting Tech Research in the ‘Silicon Savannah’"

AO: This post, published via Medium to attract a broader audience, was part of the iQuarterly 2016 publication by iHub Research and reflected on lessons learned from almost 5 years of working for/on/with iHub Research.Read more

Blog post: "The Responsibility of Working with Community"

AO: This was an important post that we as a research team revisited several times. It highlights some of the ethical issues about doing tech research with groups whose issues may not have any type of tech solution. It also raises the question of your responsibility as a researcher to intervene....Read more

Events

People and Projects

Google Market Research: "Understanding barriers to mobile Internet adoption in Kenya and Ghana"

AO: This project is an example of the type of market research work we conducted with technology companies such as Google, Philips, and IBM. Given our position "on the ground" in Nairobi, we had a strategic advantage over any Silicon Valley-based research companies who had their own learning...Read more

iHub Research July 2014 Update to Advisors

AO: This brief update I wrote for the iHub board members in coordination with the rest of the iHub Research project managers gives a quick snapshot of the projects we were working on in mid-2014.Read more