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Kenya, 5 August 2016: UNICEF partners with Nairobi University for a successful Nairobi Innovation Week 2016

By Daisy Serem and Minu Limbu

© Kevin Wamz/University of Nairobi/2016
The Nairobi Innovation Week Organizing Committee from the University of Nairobi and UNICEF with H.E. the President of the Republic of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, Cabinet Secretaries from Ministries of ICT, Industrialization and Education.

NAIROBI, Kenya, 5 August 2016 – In East Africa, Kenya is a growing hub for startups and young entrepreneurs. At the heart of it all is Nairobi, the capital city that has been named as the most intelligent city in Africa for two years in a row, where scholars, researchers and innovators are making their mark on society.

The Second Annual Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) was an opportunity to learn and showcase new innovations and inventions that benefit children, adolescents and young people. Thousands of participants filled the University of Nairobi grounds where the event took place.

For UNICEF, this was a chance to inspire young innovators to create solutions for those that need it the most, particularly children. In Kenya, 6 out of 10 people are children, and out of a total of 20 million children, almost 80 per cent are subjected to at least one level of deprivation in access to water, good nutrition, education, health, or child protection services (source: Kenya child deprivation index).

There is – therefore – an urgent need to address these deprivations in a more sustainable and holistic way through innovations. To this end, UNICEF signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Nairobi. As one of the strategic partners, UNICEF has committed itself to hosting the Nairobi Innovation Week annually.

The UNICEF Kenya Deputy Representative, Patrizia DiGiovanni says, “Partnerships are central to the development of a sustainable innovation ecosystem in Kenya. The Nairobi Innovation Week provides Kenya-based innovation hubs and UNICEF with a unique opportunity to explore home-grown solutions that have a positive impact on realizing the rights of all children in Kenya and beyond its borders.”

© UNICEF Kenya/2016/Serem
UNICEF Innovation Co- Lead Chirs Fabian with young Innovators during Nairobi Innovation Week 2016.

February this year UNICEF launched the Innovation Fund, a USD 10.6 million investment in open-source technologies for children created by innovators from developing countries. The New York based UNICEF Innovation Co-Lead, Chris Fabian, who was also a keynote speaker at the Nairobi Innovation Week, highlighted the opportunities presented by the venture fund.

“We are living in a world where there is an explosion of data so how can we use this to change our unequal world and make a difference for the vulnerable and forgotten?” he asked. “The Innovation Fund is looking for problem-solvers.”

Throughout the one week long innovation week, UNICEF was well represented highlighting the need to innovate for children. During the pre-event, UNICEF led one of the most participated “Design Thinking” workshop. A dedicated panel on Innovations for Children and youth was one of the primary highlights of theNIW2016.

The Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Information Communication and Technology Mr. Joseph Mucheru, who is the former head of Google Sub Saharan Africa, visited the UNICEF Innovation Stall and interacted with the exhibitors.

“We need to work together to build need focused innovation ecosystem for Kenya” he said. “Innovative ICT partnerships and infrastructures are key to deliver sustainable and affordable innovations in Kenya.”

The Government of Kenya also pledged to invest in young innovators and committed Kenya Shillings 100 Million the University of Nairobi to cater for the innovation week 2017. Speaking during the official opening ceremony of NIW, His Excellency the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, lauded the University of Nairobi for being a beacon of innovation.

“Innovation is the engine that drives entrepreneurship; and it is entrepreneurship that opens up opportunities for our young people, and creates the jobs that sustain and reward them,” H.E. Kenyatta said. “But our innovation and hard work mean little if it does not improve people's lives.”

NEW Update on Nairobi Innovation 2017: The dates for the THIRD Nairobi Innovation Week has already been announced. The same event, only in a much larger scale, will take place on 6 – 10 March 2017. If you are interested in participating in Nairobi Innovation Week 2017 or showcasing child focused innovations, please contact:

1. Minu Limbu,, Innovation Lead, UNICEF Kenya
2. Daisy Serem-Esinapwaka,, Communication Officer, UNICEF Kenya



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