icecairo at re:publica 2013 in Berlin

re:publica is a conference that started with bloggers, but over the years it has added a variety of elements and has become a fast growing super progressive conference in the funky town of Berlin, Deutschland. Now Europe’s largest and most prominent conference on the future of our society and all things digital, the speakers covered topics ranging from technology to business, science, education and culture.

This year, icecairo, was invited by GIZ and Afrilabs to attend the Global Innovation Lounge that showcased many of the different spaces from around the African continent, and also included spaces from South America and Asia. From Tanzania to Liberia and Nigeria to Kenya and many more, hub-managers, entrepreneurs, and innovators congregated as part of the Afrilabs network for the very first time.

Network is Growing

The current trend in the African continent is a boom of the entrepreneurial spirit that sets out to tackle the issues at hand. At this year’s re:publica there were 19 labs in one space communicating, exchanging ideas, and cementing ties.

 Indicative of the significance of this growing trend, the keynote speech was given by Erik Hersman, “Co-founder of @Ushahidi and @iHub Nairobi. Senior TED and PopTech Fellow.” Erik discussed serious aspects of the innovations implemented and the challenges the continent faces.

 The importance of this conference to all the labs and spaces in the Afrilabs network cannot be downplayed. It is the cooperation between these progressive businesses popping up all over the continent that can contribute to more vibrant solutions through dialogue and collaboration.

 Emulating successful models in Western countries without fully understanding the context of which our region’s particular challenges could prove to be fatal. Thus, it is this congregation of brilliant minds in one area that ignites synergistic forces as a start to overcoming the cumbersome obstacles. Whether these obstacles are electricity blackouts or ISPs inconsistent internet service, or even as basic as water and energy, it is this environment of which we must focus on. Ironically, many of these innovations emerging can be rolled back out to other parts of the more technically advanced world.

 Please refer to the bottom of this post for a list of all the participants.


The highlight of icecairo’s participation was a talk given by co-founder Adam Molyneux-Berry titled “The Outernet — A revolution, in reality” (watch video here). This was a 1- hr talk that included two other gentlemen including Wael Fakharany, Regional Manager at Google Middle East on one of the main stages. Wael discussed several issues related to the growing use of the internet in Egypt and how entrepreneurship is also rapidly expanding in the region.

In Adam’s talk, he explained the context of which icecairo emerged, from the #Jan25 Egyptian revolution, and the momentum of the youth looking to challenge the status quo, make tangible changes, and begin establishing a more prominent future. He explained how icecairo aims to provide the services to these passionate Egyptian youth, to facilitate their progress, and to collectively make the positive changes so badly needed during these turbulent times.

 Back in the Global Innovation Lounge, icecairo took part in the Open Space format by signing up for a few other events. The first presentation was given by Muhammad Radwan, Space Manager, about the recent project with Solar Water Heaters in Cairo/Marsa Alam and how this exemplifies the vision of icecairo. The second discussion that Muhammad and Salma held was a talk with other spaces about the trendy concept of “Gamification” and what types or methods are utilized by the respective hubs.

 Design Thinking Workshop

Daniela Marzavan, a senior lecturer of the HTW (Fachhochschule für Technik und Wirtschaf Berlin) invited Salma, icecairo’s product designer, to participate in a Design Thinking Workshop. The course she is currently teaching helps students solve a challenge and come out with innovative ideas for real problems. This years challenge included a political one in Egypt. For the students, Salma joined the session as an Egyptian with a design background and an interview-partner for the group doing their research on the Egyptian revolution. She helped the students with some ideas and insights on how to get the right information and how to reach the right target groups. In addition to answering their questions regarding the revolution and the political situation right now.

 Hacking Berlin Start-Up / Maker’s Tour

 Following the conference, a coworking space/tech hub in Berlin hosted the attendees of the Global Innovation Lounge and had prepared a map of all interesting spaces in the area. There were Arduino producers, hackerspaces, coworking hubs, and community gardens. Three different tours were set up and people formed teams to explore these locations. After returning from the tour, every team briefed the rest on what they saw, learnt, and experienced. (Find Map here)

icecairo has been given a real boost in energy from the passionate people we met from all over the world and intend to bring this to Egypt so that the various spaces can benefit from the coolness we saw yo.

Check out the Photo Album of conference here:

 List of all participants in Global Innovation Lounge re:publica #rp13: