Part 2 | Silicon Dar is taking shape and we are doing something about it.

The article is the follow up of the first article which challenged stakeholders on what we can do on the rise of “Silicon Dar”. You can access the first article here.

Excitement can drive a person to do great things. Yesterday evening we even forgot it was a Saturday and working late on something far greater than all of us in my team. Something that few years to come might drive our national agenda towards innovation and technology entrepreneurship. We were working on Silicon Dar, a project which is looking to promote a section of Dar es Salaam an area few kilometers from the city center as the core of the innovation and technology ecosystem of the city and possibly the country. We understand this is bigger than us but someone has got to do something and we have decided to do it. Like the famous Mwalimu’s Quote,

“We have the will, the reason and the ability to do so” — The Late Julius K. Nyerere

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Google Map View of a Section of Bagamoyo Road “Silicon Dar”, The Map Shows Key Stakeholders of The Innovation and Technology Ecosystem.

Yesterday we organize the first #CityHack event. It might be the first #CityHack event in Africa looking to explore possibilities of transforming a subsection of a city into a core of innovation and tech. This might be the easiest approach of promoting smart cities in Africa adopting existing infrastructure and resources instead of developing cities from the scratch. The approach of Kigamboni City, Konza City, Iroley City, Milton Keynes etc. might be super costly to countries in the developing economies and we might have to wait another 50+ years or so to create another Silicon Valley from scratch.

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Team Mapping The Area, Looking For Organizations and Key Stakeholders Along The Road.

20 individuals with passion towards making Dar es Salaam the core of innovation and tech in the East African region attended the hackathon and brainstormed on what needs to be done to make the idea becomes a reality. We had several discussions and at some point in time people challenged everything; the name asked why Bagamoyo Road, and even why are we focusing on the area between Morocco Junction and Bamaga Bus Stand. All these critical questions help us to structure well the concept. Of course, this is was just an initial step, we expect more feedback and thoughts as we move forward.

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Team Carrying a Mapping Exercise.

We also assessed what are the gaps, issues that might hinder the development of the area into an actual the city’s center of innovation and technology. Different issues were identified; funding agencies for startups, affordable office space for startups (even though there is a lot of empty buildings), free internet and connectivity challenges etc.

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In The Evening, Reviewing The Mapping Exercise.

The history, it wasn’t very clear on why this natural shape of Silicon Dar emerged. There were some hypothesis but nothing scientific. MNOs look like the latest addition to the block with Vodacom and Halotel having their new offices on the road. Airtel and Tigo have existed sometime now. The existence of College of ICT of University of Dar es Salaam (CoICT), The Commission For Science and Technology Tanzania (COSTECH) and Tanzania Telecommunication Company (TTCL) has been considered among the catalyst of rapid growth of this area as a technology centre.

From the event we had three main activities;

  1. Mapping Exercise

The first exercise was the mapping exercise where we identified all the key players of the ecosystem located along the Bagamoyo Road; banks, telcos, innovation hubs, incubators, media houses, academic institutions, public agencies, realtors etc. We grouped them into different clusters with respect to the role they play in the ecosystem e.g Financial Institutions, Research Organization, Policy Makers, Academic Institutions etc.

Key lessons from the activity | We realize the road has the potential and resources to be the innovation and technology centre of Dar es Salaam. A long list of organizations were mentioned which meets the needs of any successful ecosystem. There was also some gaps that needed to be addressed. If your organization is located in this area and you want to be mapped please register here.

2. Thinking The Future (Trend Analysis)

Adopting future wheels we did a trend analysis exercise trying to analyze how the future will look like with respect to some major events that might happen in the area e.g the government moving to Dodoma, the cost of renting spaces in the area, emerging of initiatives such as Tanzania Angel Investors Network (TAIN) etc.

Key lessons from the activity | The future looks bright and promising. Dar es Salaam has never been close to having a technology centre in the city like now. The city has all the resources required to flourish any innovation and technology ecosystem. With the right government commitment, the involvement of private sector and development partners. The dream of Silicon Dar can become a reality. We also learned all these things are driven by young, energetic entrepreneurs and if the startups can take lead on this we can be able to achieve the unexpected.

3. PEST Analysis

We also did PEST analysis on few selected trends by assessing how the future will look and the impact the trends will have politically, technologically, economically and on society at large. We looked at how the realization of “Silicon Dar” can have an impact on the city of Dar es Salaam.

Key lessons from the activity | By imagining “Silicon Dar” so many things popped up. We saw the block being a source of new revenue to the government by encouraging the growth of startups and formation of new ventures hence creating socio-economic impact. The growth of the block could also encourage further technology adoption in businesses and influence the way we develop our policies on startups, SMEs, investment, technology adoption etc.

4. Reflection and agreeing on the way forward

Agreed Way Forward;

  • Putting together a concept note to help key stakeholders understand the concept.
  • Organizing a scientific mapping exercise, potentially with Data Lab Tanzania and Humanitarian Openstreetmap, both organizations located along #SiliconDar.
  • Conducting research in the area, meeting with realtors and other key stakeholders in the area getting their perceptions on this.
  • Getting more partners involved including the strategic partners, government, the private sector, and development partners.
  • Organizing more meetups and hack sessions to gather more ideas and inputs to perfect the concept and get more partners onboard.
  • Designing a business model; tools and products that will encourage the growth of the area and attract key missing blocks of the ecosystem.

Call For Partnerships

Are you an organization or individuals passionate about what we are working on and want to be part of this legacy of building the future of Dar es Salaam as the core of innovation and tech in Africa?

Register here to get more updates on the future sessions (meetups and hacks).

Special appreciation.

  • All those who attended the kickoff of #CityHack event and your productive inputs.
  • Amb. Arthur Mattli for his precious time and inputs.

Written by

Entrepreneur, TZ Patriot, Loves Tech, Founder saharaventures.com, Project Management Consulting firm, Co-Founded saharasparks.com and Sahara Accelerator.

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