Rich People, Nerds, and the Kenyan Context: Thoughts from the Nairobi Office Part 3

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment of Sean Smith’s series on Rich People, Nerds, and the Kenyan Context. Be sure to catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them. 


The Nerds

The Rich People are only relevant and useful if there are large numbers of “Nerds” that are hacking away at new technologies and scheming how to launch the next big thing. One of the most remarkable things about Kenya is that the term “Nerd” and some of its negative connotations seem to have little or no relevance here.  Rather, to be a techie, to sit and write lines of code is exciting, hip, and a path to generating a stable income.  The university and technical college ecosystem in Nairobi is graduating hundreds if not thousands of Computer Science majors each year.  When you factor in the additional training that can be found at Safaricom Academy, Samsung’s newly announced Engineering Academy, the eMobilis Mobile Training Academy, and m:Lab’s Trainee Program (amongst others) what you get is the nearly 6,000 members of the iHub who proudly call themselves techies.


These techies are part of a Kenya that prides itself on innovation, entrepreneurship, and technical acumen.  They are intelligent, tech savvy, and hungry to create Kenya’s next great success story.  They earn a better income than many their age simply by shopping themselves out as freelancers while hacking away at their own ventures on the side.  In Nairobi, to be technical is cool and people are getting technical in a hurry.  If you drop by any of the numerous training sessions in Nairobi you are as likely to meet a taxi driver learning to code as you are the hunch backed, introverted stereotype we identify as “Nerds.”


Check back tomorrow for the final post in the series. 

#CleanTechThatMatters is on December 14th. 
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