20 doctoral researchers from around the world and faculty from renowned business schools paid a visit to iHub, the innovative ICT hot spot located outside the city center of Nairobi, to discuss Kenya’s booming ICT sector. The visit was part of the oikos UNDP Young Scholars Academy in Nairobi. Opened in March 2010, iHub was a response to the post-election turmoil that rocked the country. Techies were using less than adequate Internet connections at cafes, on their phones, and wherever else they could connect. A need for space to share, network, and incubate was widely recognized, and iHub, a facility for the tech community that focuses on young entrepreneurs, Web and mobile phone programmers, designers, and researchers, was born. iHub currently connects to more than 8,500 members through a weekly newsletter and events that include Start-up Pitch Night, Fireside Chats, and Hack-a-Thons. A tiered membership scheme gives select members daily access to the facility, including the 20MB Internet connection and space for meetings, Internet use, networking, and collaborative projects.
A new call to action is rising from the corporate world. “If we wait for a policy enabling environment, we will be waiting a long time,” says Stuart Hart, Professor at Cornell University and Director of the Indian Institute for Sustainable Enterprise. “It is our job as innovative entrepreneurs to design and develop new models. The problem with the government is that it can create incentives; however, it cannot create new models.” The world’s problems are social and environmental and they are mostly centered in the developing world.
Champagne glasses, cats, frogs, pigs and horses : One of the most visually enticing keynote addresses in the Forum creatively links natural resource consumption and conservation, policy directives, economics, dematerialization and sustainable living with images of the animal world. Creating powerful imagery, Professor Ashok Khosla persuaded his audience of the pressing need to change our entrenched value systems, our perceptions and prejudices of our present surroundings. Through the sessions of the WRF 2011, I have heard politicians, academics, students and the youth spreading ideas on economic growth with resource management but Khosla for a change, shows through example what he has been able to achieve. His office building is one such example. Built out of ash, recycled waste and recycled construction material, it fosters the message of green building, as it consumes 40% less energy and at 50% less construction costs.
Dr. Alice Kaudia, Environment Secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources Kenya believes in the bottom of the pyramid approach towards sustainable development. In a imperfect world where per capita incomes decide the future of the environment, it is very interesting to know that Dr. Kaudia’s approach integrates issues of food and nutritional security, energy, water, waste management, information and knowledge management for the grass-roots population. I am seeking answers to the question of how can the poor lead a sustainable life when their economic challenges impact their socio-economic growth and development? What are the methods through which efficient use of resources can be ensured? How do you educate people cannot afford or do not have access to basic health care, sanitation and water.