Varsity hosts first African Conference on Human Computer Interaction (AfriCHI)

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Date and time: 
Fri, 2016-11-25 18:24
Location / Venue: 

UoN Towers and Villa Rosa Kempinski

The first Africa Human Computer Interaction conference (AfrCHI) co-hosted by the University of Nairobi, School of Computing and Informatics has concluded after a five-day session with representation of at least 200 delegates from 13 African countries.

The conference themed Building bridges, breaking barriers was officially opened on November 24, 2016 by Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology, Mr. Joseph Mucheru, represented by Principal Secretary for Broadcasting and Telecommunication, Mr. Sammy Itemere.

The conference integrated panel discussions, workshops, paper and poster presentations, keynote speeches and an onsite design challenge for students.

Official opening of Africa Conference on Human Computing Interaction (AfriCHI) at Villa Rosa Kempinski November 24, 2016

AfriCHI inaugural conference aimed to improve the understanding of human computer interaction in African countries. It also strived to develop a sustainable forum in the African continent by enhancing local expertise in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design. In addition, it aimed to build bridges by making research design methods, tools and pedagogies already being used in Africa, more visible to the international HCI Community.

Human Computer Interaction involves better design for enhanced interaction and improved user experience to make computers usable and user-friendly. User friendly interfaces simplify computer usage. “HCI also incorporates the special needs of people with visual, speech or hearing impairments”, explained Dr. Dan Orwa Senior Lecturer, School of Computing University of Nairobi and Local co-chair of AfriCHI.

The conference uniqueness has been conveyed through provision of a platform for onsite design challenge for students. Owing to AfriCHI’s celebration of African women in technology, Ms. Judith Owigar, Co-founder and Operations Director of Akirachix was invited as a special guest at the conference. Ms. Owigar is an alumnus of School of Computing of Informatics. In 2016, Judith shared a panel with President Obama during the Global Challenge Entrepreneurship Summit held in Kenya.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Mucheru whose speech was read by Mr. Itemere said that AfriCHI would increase the Geographical, Cultural and Linguistic access to those who cannot fully participate in HCI conferences beyond Africa and to foster engagement with those beyond Africa to be aware of Africa perspectives. The CS for ICT challenged Africa to be in the realm of cutting-edge technology through research and development, putting into consideration user requirements especially those still left out of technology.

Also speaking on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Madara Ogot, Director Research and Extension UoN, expressed the delight of vice-chancellor, Prof. Mbithi, to host AfriCHI conference as the first event to be held at the newly constructed University Towers. In his speech Prof. Mbithi noted that the conference offered a great opportunity to expand the networks and exposure of faculty and students. The VC affirmed continual support of the University of Nairobi to sustain networks created at AfriCHI.

Key note speakers included Chief Chikanta from Zambia; Dr Imen Trabelsi from Sfax University/Machine-Human Interaction Association in Tunisia; Prof. Janet Wesson from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa; Dr Susan Dray from Dray and Associates in the USA and Prof. Meoli Kashorda from Kenya Education Network in Kenya. 

Dr. Anicia Peters , Dean Namibia University of Science and Technology and General co-chair with Dr. Chris Chepken, School of Computing UoN, commended the attendance of the delegates from 21 countries, out of which 12 were from Africa. She also appreciated the financial sponsorship from organisations. Dr. Anicia applauded Kenya Education Network (KENET) which funded 40 delegates to the conference.

AfriCHI conference was sponsored by Association of Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction (ACM, SGCHI), IBM, Google, Microsoft Research India, University of Pretoria, Kenya Education Network (KENET), Internet Society of Kenya, Namibia University of Science and Technology, University of Nairobi, iHuB and MIT Center for Civic Media.

Having taken three years to plan, AfriCHI Conference was conceived by African researchers in 2010, at CHI, in Atlanta USA, and also gained momentum as a result of a workshop on Building Computer Collaboration at INTERACT13 in Cape Town. Similar conferences have been held in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

The conference ran from 21st-25th November 2016 and brought together researchers, practitioners, industry professionals, academics and students collaborating on HCI and Interaction.

Expiry Date: 
Sat, 2017-11-25 18:24

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