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Building a Responsible Internet of Things


ThingsCon Nairobi

December 8, 2017 • Gearbox • Nairobi, Kenya


ThingsCon fosters the creation of a human-centric & responsible IoT


For our very first edition of ThingsCon in Africa we’re headed for Nairobi! On December 8, we’ll team up with our friends at the Gearbox, a Nairobi-based hardware & maker space to bring ThingsCon to Kenya. We’ll cover the core themes of ThingsCon – responsible design, ethical IoT, and design principles. In addition, we’ll cover local topics, such as building connected hardware in and for emerging economies, exploring open source hardware for peace building + topped with hands-on workshops and room for discussions.


We’ll spend a whole day at Gearbox – first confirmed speakers include David Li, Stephen Kovats, Jeff Maina – with many more tba.

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Sign up now!

Join us for a day of talks and workshop at one of Nairobis most exciting locations.

Speakers will be announced soon, stay tuned and follow us on Twitter.







Welcome & Opening


Toward a Responsible IoT

Simon Höher & Max Krüger


Building IoT in Emerging Markets

Victor Kyalo, Principal Secretary of ICT

Talk + Fireside Chat /w Dr Kamau Gachigi


Gearbox Tour & Coffee Break


Diversity in Technology Creation

Gabi Agustini


Open Hardware and Conflict Zones

Abdulmalik Adam, Jaiksana Amaruda José, Stephan Kovats


Product Showcase


Lunch + Exhibitions


Connecting Shenzhen and Africa

David Li



Elizabeth Ondula


Panel: Manufacturing here or there?

David Li, Paygo, Nicholus Kimali


Coffee Break




Bridging the Gap

Jeff Maina

Lessons to be learned when building connected products in Africa




Get together + Party

All Speakers


Gabi Agustini, OLABI

Gabriela Agustini is founder and director of Olabi, a social enterprise focus on encouraging the use of new (and old) technologies for social change that has a fablab inside. Based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she has traveled more than 15 countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Oceania working on projects or speaking at events related to innovation. She is currently Professor of Culture and Technology at Candido Mendes University, Visitant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Fundação Getúlio Vargas, both in Rio. And also co-organizer and co-author of "De baixo para Cima"("Bottom-up"), a book of articles about digital culture, new economy and peripheries in Brazil. Her experience ranges from the public sector to small startups and private companies. She formed part of the House of Digital Culture, a collective pioneer in the discussion of new technologies in Brazil, where she worked as a curator and executive director of CulturaDigital.Br International Festival held in Brazil in 2011.


David Li, SZOIL

David Li is one of the pioneers of the maker movement in Shenzhen. In 2010 he took the initiative to create the first makers space in China and set up a think tank to do research on the maker movement. Before that, he used his home as a testing space, to the annoyance of his wife. Nowadays, there is a rapid growth of maker spaces and communities worldwide. However, Shenzhen still holds a special status. What is so interesting about the environment of Shenzhen?

Shenzhen is the home of many electronics factories. It is the place where the first iPhone was made for example. With so many people working with electronics in Shenzhen, a market emerged with all kinds of electronic devices and components. Around 800-900 shops are situated in the market, everything you need can be found at this market.


Dr. Kamau Gachigi, Gearbox

Dr. Kamau Gachigi is the Founding Executive Director of Gearbox, a non-profit organisation that provides members with access to modern machines for prototyping and low volume manufacture, specialising in digital fabrication, including electronics PCB fabrication. Gearbox also avails training, and incubation/acceleration services in order to broaden access to manufacturing in Kenya.


Jeff Muthondu, BRCK

Jeff is the Creative Director of BRCK, a Nairobi born and based company, connecting frontier markets to the internet. They recently laucnhed the SupaBRCK, a robust, self-powered router, that enbales MOJA, a free lublic WiFi network and content-delivery platform.





Victor Kyalo, Principal Secretary ICT

Eng. Victor Kyalo is the Principal Secretary in charge of ICT & Innovation at the Ministry of ICT. Prior to his current position, he was the CEO at the ICT Authority. Before ICT Authority was merged into one entity, he was the Deputy CEO/Programmes Manager at the Kenya ICT Board with a focus on the implementation of core communication infrastructure and e-services in different sectors of the economy. Victor is a Communications Engineer with wide experience in systems design, integration and project management. He has been involved in the information systems networking/telecommunications for the last 25 years both in deployment of solutions and in training at the University level. 


Jaiksana Amaruda José

One of the early jHUB pioneers in Juba, South Sudan, Jaiksana set up the open tech oriented O-Space innovation hub in his hometown of Yei in 2016. Being forced to move due to the conflict that swept his state later that year, Jaiksana initiated a #PeaceVillage at the Rhino Camp refugee settlement, Uganda as part of the r0g_agency #defyhatenow initiative. Participating in a series of hub development and open tech workshops with the jHUB community he helped develop an 'Open Hardware Guide' to accompany #ASKotek; the 'Access to to Skills and Knowledge Open Tech Emergency Kit', both of which are hands-on resources for community trainers, created for mobile field-use where there is neither easy power nor internet connectivity.


Stephen Kovats, ASKotek

Stephen Kovats is founding director of r0g_agency for open culture & critical transformation, a non-profit organisation applying open source technologies in post-conflict and rapid transformation regions. Previously artistic director of #transmediale, Berlin's festival for art and digital culture, his current work with r0g_ includes #DefyHateNow - mitigating social media hate speech, the #peacehackcamp, #OpenTech4Life and #ASK (Access to Skills and Knowledge) all hands-on #opentech initiatives supporting education and innovation in South Sudan, Ugandan refugee camps and Pakistan. As a member of the #IoT Council his particular interest is focused on keeping the net an open and inclusive space.

Abdulmalik Adam

Based now in Nakuru, Kenya, Adam is working on setting up a local open hardware lab and production center. As part of the jHUB open tech and hub development workshops in collaboration with icebauhaus and r0g_agency, Adam helped developed an Open Learning Guide #OLG with the South Sudan based jHUB community. He was one of the key 'architects' of the '#ASKotek; Access to to Skills and Knowledge Open Tech Emergency Kit', a hands-on resources, tools and repair kit for community trainers, currently being tested in the field, both in South Sudan and refugee settlements in Northern Uganda.

Elizabeth Ondula

Elizabeth Ondula is a Research Software Engineer at IBM Research - Africa. In her role, she explores the development and optimization of blockchain applications for IoT devices. Her profile boasts patents and papers published in publications such Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Elizabeth is passionate about developing new technology solutions that have demonstrative societal impact and she renders her expertise to advising the innovation ecosystem. Elizabeth’s work and passion for what she does has given her the opportunity to showcase her talent in East Africa, the United States and Jamaica.


More speakers will be announced soon, stay tuned and follow us on Twitter.


Companies and Makers

Apart from the presentations and discussions on stage we will have quite a few local makers and companies showing off their products in our demo area. Make sure you connect with them and explore their prototypes and products. Amongst the exhibiting companies are:



Arinifu is a technology company that aims to enhance farming in Kenya and Africa at large through technological innovation and making it accessible to both low and high-income farmers. To us, it’s all about solving interesting problems and delighting our customers. This is our guiding light. We work with farmers to understand the challenges they face then tap into technology for solutions. At the end of it, we want them to receive better returns and ultimately better standards of life.

Paygo Energy

PayGo Energy is a distribution service that harnesses the power of pay-as-you-go-technology to bring modern fuel to homes everywhere. At PayGo, we're developing smart metering systems that enable our customers to pre-pay for cooking gas. Our smart meters monitor customer gas consumption and predict when gas is going to run out. This allows us to provide an uninterrupted supply of affordable gas to our customers.




We provide a grass-root platform for detecting maternal and child health issues as they arise and relaying them to the appropriate medical and health care agencies for specific help.

Africa's Talking

Africa's Talking Ltd aims to build the best mobile technology systems that are scalable, robust, reliable, and cloud-based, enabling end users to interface directly with telecommunication service providers across the continent. This is in line with the objective to provide high quality connections that are cost effective for both small and large enterprises.




SasaLog was founded in 2011 with the aim of making technology accessible, both in terms of usability and cost. 
Small and micro-retailers without access to modern low cost business accounting tools were identified as a fertile ground for innovation and we embarked on developing a solution(s) for this market segment. We are developing a PoS system for small and micro-retailers in the Kenyan market.

Lectrotel Microsystems

Electronic Hardware design, PCB design, Electronic Product manufacturing