News of AI on the Silicon Serengeti from New Founding Member Francis Djirackor

Francis Djirackor is the Executive Director of Elris Communications Services Ltd, providing engineering and other professional services in the telecommunications, broadcast and IT space in Nairobi.  Francis is also a leader at Nairobi Chapel, a dynamic collection of four large Christian congregations in Kenya’s capital.  We learned about Francis in connection with the Topflight Summit which has been convening for a number of years and will be held this year in Mombasa.  Francis has just joined AI and Faith as our first Founding Member on the African continent.

 

Q:  Please describe for us how technology research and development is growing in Nairobi compared to other parts of Africa, including around artificial intelligence, and how much you and your faith-oriented friends and colleagues are working in this area?

A:  Nairobi is very alive with R&D, but much of the work is more foreign driven. We have centres like I-HUB, Gearbox, IBM, Google, Safaricom, Andela, Safaricom, Strathmore, USIU and most technical universities. The process is very vibrant here with many different Apps that are developed to support such. Interestingly, Kenya is known to be 80% Christian, but the very serious ones like us are so much involved in this area too.

 

Q: Please tell us about your upcoming tech conference in March.

The conference Topflight Summit, to be held April 9th -13th, brings together the top Christian executives in the marketplace who are impacting lives in their various areas of engagement with the ambitious agenda to transform Africa “one mind at a time”. The idea behind this approach is to impact one and then they go out and duplicate themselves, hence using exponential strategy of growth. We have sessions such as:

 

2020 news – Global Trends and Innovation in the 2020’s- Mr. Bokongo Otachi and Ms. Ruth Djirackor

 

This panel will be co-facilitated by Mr. Otachi, who is a financial strategist at McKinsey & Co., and Ms. Ruth Djirackor, currently a project manager in Elris Communications deploying Fibre, LTE, Microwave among other technologies.  Ms. Djirackor has a Medical Engineering degree from Cardiff University and I’m proud to say is our daughter.

 

Starting Out – Business, Social and Spiritual Enterprise- Engrs. Francis & Josephine Djirackor.

 

You can learn more about our business, which is a lead sponsor for this conference, at https://www.elris.com/founders/

 

Q:  Are there people at Nairobi Chapel and other churches in Nairobi who are talking about or studying the effects of technology on social interaction, for example on how social media is replacing regular conversation or disrupting people’s attention?  

 

A:  With the church in general, we have discussions through groupings and summits to discuss the issues related to such technological innovations and how to minimize the disruptive effect and at the same time extract the benefits that will help the church. Sessions like the Alpha programme, War at home (for the teens), among others, have been very fruitful.

 

Q: Are there positive ways in which businesses like yours, the church, and faith leaders are using digital technology for good outcomes?

 

A:  As a company, one of our strategies is to reach the un-reach through digital technology by delivering and passing on information even where there is no network. The church uses a similar approach for evangelism and outreach to bring the gospel to the remote areas.

 

Q:  Do you think the culture in East Africa approaches technology like Artificial Intelligence driven applications in ways different from Silicon Valley?  If so, how?  

 

A:  The approach is very different from Silicon Valley, as our culture carefully embraces such with care as we are initially very suspicious, but when we embrace it, we cannot do without it. It becomes very addictive.

 

Q:  Just as Africa leaped past telephone land lines and went right to cell phones, and developed payment systems like Mpesa ahead of the West, is there a sense that Kenyan culture can navigate this digital revolution better than the original innovators?  How so?

 

A:  We are surely navigating this digital revolution as it comes in to give life-saving solutions, like security, health, education, agriculture, transportation and logistics, and research, among other. As a matter of fact, our pile of social challenges brings about very great innovations that tend to tackle and give solutions to needs we have. That is how Mpesa, Popote  and other breakthroughs came about.

 

Editor:  Thanks very much and welcome aboard AI and Faith’s mission, Francis!

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