What is the True Intention of iHub Board? Kick Out the Poor Kenyans?

When Erik wrote this, I thought for myself, WTF!! What in the world are people at iHub thinking? Is there stagnation in thoughts and creativity at the countries celebrated innovation hub? Why would a group which is supposed to have periodic revolutionary thoughts on where to take iHub next look so stuck in primitive ways of doing things? Or has iHub achieved its unannounced aim of first pretending to do what it was not created for then now deviating from it to do what the intention of Erik and the so-called advisory team was?

iHub Advisory Board

How does iHub come up with the membership of this board? Is it made up of only ass-lickers of Erik Hershman, Ory Okolloh, Juliana and David or is it done through competetive recruitment? The thoughts put down by the board and voiced by Erik are not surprising when you look at the composition of the board. Apart from Erik with a fluke of innovation (Ushahidi) and Conrad Akunga (@roomthinker) who is a renown software developer, who among those other wannabes would you want to have on a board which manages a country’s sole innovation hub? iHub must deviate from having only those who agree with them 500% of the times to even people who do not agree with them.

Not that I want to be a member of the board. But look at Obama, he had to have guys like Gates who were so staunchly republican and even openly say that he would listen more to people especially when they don’t agree with them. But to Erik and the iHub board, when you disagree with them then you become and outcast and only a devil incarnate. The Ushahidi group which still has a final say on whatever happens at iHub needs to broaden their thinking and not be stuck in thoughts and behaviours common only with our politicians. Funny that they have also been critics of our politicians and even started the Mzalendo website for deep analysis of the leaders. They should be more flexible and innovative in thought themselves.

iHub Membership

Currently, 90 – 95% of the Green and Red members of iHub do not need the facility. They can afford to pay for one themselves. If you were in Kenya in early to mid 2000s and was through with your college studies, you will realise that the same group now dominating iHub Green membership is the same group which used to reserve spaces in cyber-cafes and hot-desk centres in Nairobi. Apart from the Kenyans who are members of the iHub but do not need the facility, there are foreigners trooping into Kenya as researchers, students, innovators and entrepreneurs. They are either given free spaces as Green members or get to pay the Ksh 10,000 and are given space under red members category. The Ksh 10,000 should only be a reserve for East Africans or Kenyans for a start.

You must not have some loungers and lay-abouts pretend to be in Kenya on a never-ending holiday, research or study leave and end up at iHub occupying space which could better be used to serve Kenyans. The layabouts are then given space in the facility at the expense of Kenyans who quality. Unless iHub had a different intention with the Kenyans present in the facility. Non East Africans should not be admitted to the facility for a fee of less than US $450/month unless they have been seconded by sponsors and partners of the iHub.

Membership in the green category must be on need basis. iHub should learn from how Starehe School admits student and use the same to admit innovators into the hub. You cannot admit a guy whose estimated household income is more than a certain amount. The threshold can also be applied to the guardians and parents income. Now iHub is dominated by guys who are already earning enough money from main or side jobs or whose parents are wealthy enough to build for them a parallel iHub. I receive complaints from those who are inside the facility and get to see this first-hand. Again, Kenyans moved from a period when there was no innovation hub to now that iHub is there and others like the space set up by Human IPO coming up. The first tranche of iHub memberships should have been longer than 2 years to create a good foundation for innovation in the country. After the foundation is when iHub could have something like a one year membership with a projection to reduce future membership to only 6 months.

Doers Vs Talkers 

Reality check here. iHub is popular globally, 75% because “talkers” and 25% because of the said “doers”. The megaphone in bloggers, tweeps and Facebookers has spread the message of iHub far and beyond than the non-existent doers. What are the real commercial innovation which have broken away from iHub and become accepted by the masses? I have heard enough excuses on this. Ranging from “we don’t have the critical mass” to “not enough local content”. The truth is that there is just no revolutionary technology out of the iHub yet. What we have are apps and creations targeted at winning competition and various grants available.

Most winnings from hackathons, Tandaa and other challenges have ended up in beer dens of Hurlingham and Lavington than in doing real work. Anyone who is honest enough and interact with the usual iHub community will tell you this openly. And for this fake success to continue, the beneficiaries have made it a point of feeding a group of “attack dogs” whose main work is to deter any criticism. They have developed NOTHING, they are assured of space permanently at iHub as long as they make sure that they regularly massage the ego of Erik and other iHub and Ushahidi gang members by not failing to attack Alai and other critics once in a while.

Interesting statement on the blog post almost concludes

“The iHub is now looking into doing the following (and for this, we need some community feedback and help)”

The statement looks like Erik and iHub Advisory Board wishes to receive some honest feedback on their intentions. Immediately after that and without getting any feedback, Erik lists how they are going to weed-out those they consider not to be bringing iHub any value. Each of the 250 iHub green members will do a 5-minute presentation, followed by a 5-min Q&A. There the weaklinks are destined to be chujwad. This is the most unfair way of deciding who should be iHub green member. A great majority would not make it except for the professional deceivers.  Again “if you don’t do a presentation, you will lose your green membership.” Plain and simple.

My Advice to iHub Advisory Board

You have  listed more than 15 sponsors currently supporting iHub. It would be so foolish to start exploiting the Kenyans who have not yet got a good foundation to create next generation innovations. Try to contain the urge and thirst for quick bucks in you. Give the young men and women another year or so. Stop the rush to start charging. And stop scaremongering.

Secondly, limit the generosity you show in easily admitting lay-abouts from Europe, US, Asia and other developed regions while you hunt Kenyans with goons whenever they try to access the facility. Don’t be soft racists and or discriminative in dealing with the membership issues.

You need a check system and when you try to counter honest check through the use of hired goons and proxy wars, you sure have lots to hide. We will continue speaking out no matter what. Ask anyone, we have seen worse.

Written by Robert

Respected Kenyan blogger, tech evangelist, and social justice activist. Robert is known for his hard-hitting articles and opinions disseminated through his Twitter handle @RobertAlai or Facebook page (

Leave a Reply

Exit mobile version