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EghtesadOnline: Iran has launched a tech hub in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to provide a platform for exchanging tech ideas and facilitate trade.

Called Iran’s House of Innovation and Tech (HIT for short), the center was inaugurated on Wednesday by Iran’s Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari, reported.

The inaugural event was attended by Kenyan Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications Joseph Wakaba Mucheru and the head of Kenya’s Chamber of Commerce, Richard Ingati, as well as an Iranian delegation of CEOs of 40 knowledge-based companies.

Established in Iran’s former embassy building, HIT is mandated to extend Iran’s market for tech products to East Africa.

Offering workspaces and internet connection for Kenyan and Iranian companies, it will be a permanent tech fair for innovative items developed by Iranian knowledge-based companies.

Several Iranian tech professionals are set to offer mentorship and consultation to Kenyan tech enthusiasts, which will help establish a technology ecosystem.

Ahead of the inauguration, Sattari met Mucheru and explained Iran’s efforts and strategies for localization of modern technologies conforming to international standards.

“Iran has been pressured by the US unilateral and illegal sanctions through all these years. However, these limitations have raised the spirit of scholars and academia to generate knowledge and ultimately make Iran more self-sufficient,” he said.

Sattari noted that the HIT center can facilitate the exchange of technological and technical knowledge, and surely can help the Kenyan startup ecosystem grow.

Mucheru said his country has huge untapped potentials in digital economy and ICT, hoping that with the help of Iranian knowledge-based companies, tech infrastructures will gradually develop in Kenya.

The vice president later met Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Raychelle Omamo, expressing Iran’s willingness to assist Kenyan innovative companies in different sectors using its extensive experience.

Sattari briefly reviewed Iran’s achievements in science and technology during the past four decades and said because of Iran’s high technology potentials, boosting innovative moves in another nation is not difficult.

“Bilateral ties can be strengthened by designing joint projects for exchanging technology,” he said.

Omamo described HIT center as good news in Kenya and said her country is more than ready to develop startups and knowledge-based companies and connect industries with academia.

During his trip, Sattari also met Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Betty C. Mania and discussed expansion of bilateral commercial relations.

The Iranian vice president underlined Iran’s outstanding scientific progress, nanotechnology and capability in establishing innovation parks and said the country is ready to share its experience with Kenya to help promote tech-based industries in both countries.

“Iranian tech firms have held business-to-business meetings with 130 Kenyan companies. These interactions allow Kenyan companies to interact and network with Iranian companies to form partnerships and joint ventures,” he added.

Betty Mania said relations can extend to agricultural trades, as Kenya’s vast farmlands and high agricultural capacities can offer Iran a variety of products such as tea leaves and tropical fruits.

Also present at the meeting, Iran’s Ambassador to Kenya Jafar Barmaki proposed that the two sides use a currency other than the US dollar and euro to protect their fiscal relations from the constant exchange rate fluctuations and possible losses.

He said if the two sides can employ this strategy, their trade value can double in a year.



Regional Efforts

In the past several years, Iran has been strengthening tech relations with neighboring and regional countries, especially Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

In October 2020, Russia called for establishing stronger relations with Iran in ICT and space technology fields.

In addition, Russia hosted several Iranian commercial and tech delegations in the past year, including the 15th International Aviation and Space Salon (also known as MAKS Air Show) in the city of Zhukovsky in late August 2019 and the INNOPROM International Industrial Trade Fair in Yekaterinburg in July 2019.

Underlining the promising results of the visits, Sattari earlier told reporters that Russian tech firms have shown readiness to forge ties with Iranian knowledge-based companies, especially in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, space, aviation, cognitive sciences and new energies.

“As a result, an Iranian knowledge-based company signed a €2 million deal with a Russian company on the sidelines of the MAKS Air Show. Iranian tech firms also won accolades at Azerbaijan's high-tech exhibition called Bakutel 2019,” he said.

According to ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Iran’s strong presence in the event can increase the prospects of Iranian startups finding customers in the host country, which is a potential market for innovative products and services.

In addition, Iran and Armenia are working on the joint establishment of technology parks and the development of communication infrastructure.

Although progressing slowly, Iran's investments in promoting the national tech ecosystem and introducing the country's potentials to the regional market have been successful.

Lending extended support to the development of startups and knowledge-based companies has been high on the government's agenda since President Hassan Rouhani took office during his first term in 2013.


Tech Iran Kenya