Nairobi, Kenya

31 October 2014

Secretary-General’s remarks at i-Hub/Ushahidi

I am very happy to visit this Ushahidi/i-Hub this morning.

Today is my last day of my visit to Kenya. I wanted to come here and witness myself ¬– I am feeling that I am seeing the future of Kenya, the future of many women and the future of Africa.

As Secretary-General, I have been dealing with many issues, but I have never claimed that I know everything [that] is happening – even inside the United Nations and outside the United Nations. But today, having been here, it really makes me very much inspired that some very creative thing is being done while I was not aware of it! That’s a source of comfort and inspiration. [inaudible] And thank you and congratulations for what you have been doing. I am particularly [excited] to see so many young women working here. They are really trying to use, utilize the potential of women’s resources to the maximum. When we use your creativity and ideas, I can bet you that the productivity and greater progress of the country will be at least 50 percent more than in the past.

Being here, I realize why many people are calling this place i-Hub/Ushahidi a ‘Silicon Savannah.’ This is a place [which is] like an incubator of many great ideas and creativity. I hope you will continue to work and try to learn the advanced technologies. Just learning the existing technologies may not need much to add on and try to cultivate a creative idea, particularly with software mapping focusing on local means as you have been doing.

A good example of [that] is Mpesa. I know that more than 70 per cent of this text-based payment system is now being done through Mpesa, which has been developed through this “BRCK” system. I have seen very little in a very limited time, but I have learned a lot already.

Technology can be used as a great power to change your life, to change our lives, particularly the life and future of Africa, not to mention Kenya. Kenya is a thriving country. This is a powerhouse economy, and this is a regional power – politically and security-wise. Your President Kenyatta is playing a very important [inaudible] leader’s role, facilitating peace in neighbouring countries – Somalia, South Sudan. Then, on top of this political powerhouse, the economy is added as a thriving economic power. Now I can call you the power of creativity.  This technology and creativity should be used not only by you Kenyans, not only by Africans but should be used [everywhere].

I again am very much pleased to see all this Ushahidi and i-Hub technology and ideas are being used by the United Nations operations elsewhere. I was just told that the Department of Field Support, peacekeeping support, is using your ideas, your technology, your systems and many other places [are, too]. This I did not know as Secretary-General – I should be ashamed! I don’t claim that I know everything, don’t expect me [to] know everything. I may know a little bit of what you know in terms of creativity and technological ideas.

In the 19th century, the development of steam power has changed the world, particularly [for] Europeans. And it has been developed into other products. The technology and ideas you are now studying and you are now developing will be a great transformation for our society. Now we have global communication, global information and all this technology, it will make our lives much [more] engaged. But this needs to be used by all the people around the world, particularly those countries in the developing world, including your country and also the African countries.

Today I am very much pleased and happy and inspired by the active engagement of the young generation. I think you are the hope. At the same time, I am asking political leaders like our honourable chairman of the foreign relations committee of the Parliament – he is here to support you. I hope President Kenyatta and [other] politicians will really reflect what you can do [inaudible]. When they are supported by political leaders, I think they can do better. UNDP and the United Nations are fully supporting [you].

Again, I thank you very much. Keep on working together with us to make our world better for all, to make our lives sustainable in terms of political security, social, economic development. Kenya is one of the leading countries and champions and you should be proud of what you are doing. 

Thank you.