USIU-Africa hosted Mr. Bob Collymore (Safaricom Chief Executive Officer) to deliver the Keynote Address of the Inaugural Chancellor’s Public Lecture on Wednesday, June 7 in the auditorium. The Lecture gathered industry leaders, policy makers, government, researchers, academia, civil society and students to discuss how to leverage the digital disruption and design their preferred future. 

Prior to the Lecture, the Chancellor Dr. Manu Chandaria hosted senior members of faculty and those faculty involved in applied research in DVC - Academic & Student Affairs boardroom,  where those present briefly elaborated on their respective areas of specialty and research activities that they are currently undertaking.  The Chancellor on his part provided an industry perspective on applied research and prospective areas in need of research.

During the plenary session in the auditorium, four students described their perspectives on digital disruption. Ms. Michelle Wanjiku (M.A. Psychology) tackled the effect digital devices have had on human behaviour and relationships. She was followed by Mr. Prescott Muhonza (MBA - Strategic Management) who described the effect digital disruption has had on his workplace, pointing out the new challenges posed to corporate leaders to adapt and capitalize on disruptive change. Mr. Paul Bombo (Applied Computer Technology Junior) followed with a challenge to institutions of higher education to prepare students for the rapid changes in their future personal and professional lives, by proofing educational systems for digital disruption, while Mr. Ngatia Muhoya (Psychology Junior) described a social enterprise network he has set up that connects millennials with industry decision makers.

In his opening remarks, Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Zeleza underlined the university's need to embrace new technology and use it as a force to impact the institution positively, “we are at the forefront in partnering with industry leaders to identify gaps in the market and equip our students with skills to not only effectively navigate the present landscape, but also anticipate future trends and drive the change,” he concluded in his opening statement.

USIU-Africa’s  Chancellor, Dr. Manu Chandaria in his introductory remarks pointed out that it is not only his but the university’s ambition to reclaim the place of public lectures in catalyzing thought and debate on key issues affecting society, and emphasize  the importance of universities in providing evidence-based solutions to our society.  “We also want to create an avenue for serious discussions between the private sector, government, the media, civil society, the general public, researchers, lecturers and students to discuss key issues that affect society,” he added. 

Chronicling the phases of disruption, Keynote Speaker Safaricom CEO Mr. Bob Collymore urged the audience to ride the wave of change and be part of defining Africa’s future. “Digital disruption is no longer a novel phenomenon. It impacts each industry and economic sector in myriad ways. Every sector has experienced upheaval in one form or another and disruption is currently transforming the business world in a myriad of ways…disruption does not always mean adopting the latest technology – sometimes it means simply re-using existing technology for new purposes” he said.

A vigorous Question and Answer session moderated by Ms. Paula Musuva Kigen (Lecturer, Forensic Information Technology) followed where various members of the audience reacted to the Keynote Address, such Mr. Collymore's view of artificial intelligence's role and importance in the future, Safaricom's reaction to digital disruption, among others.

Mr. Collymore and Dr. Chandaria both planted commemorative trees next to the Library, before heading to the Freida Brown Student Center to view student projects touching on innovation.  Ms. Kalpavrikshika Slavakumar (Applied Computer Technology Senior) showcased a Green House Sensor System to meet the first Sustainable Development Goal - Zero Hunger - while her freshman colleague Mr. Leonard Githinji got to explain his Virtual Reality for Education project to enable students and instructors to enhance the education process by getting an immersive feel of the subject using virtual reality technology. Mr. Ankit Chhatbar (Applied Computer Technology Junior) also got a chance to describe his vision of why Kenya needs a national space program, while a IT Club  exhibited their development work on various  augmented reality environments that blur the lines between what is real and what is computer generated.

Dr. Chandaria concluded the day with a marathon "life chat" student session, during which he encouraged his audience to embrace challenges and have faith in their own abilities.  He also advised them to fully utilize the resources available all around them, including at USIU-Africa, and even go on to create collaborations between themselves and industry.