On Wednesday, 7th June 2017, Bob Collymore gave a speech on Digital Disruptions at the Inaugural Chancellor’s Public Lecture at USIU.

The lecture began at 11.30 a.m. with a final year student’s presentation on digitization and how it influences us and disrupts our lives. Various people took to the stage to share on the consideration and the power of digital disruptions in relation to the corporate sector. In this discussion there was much emphasis on the importance of investment in technology by universities after proper research and collection of data as a move to curb or better cope with digital disruptions.

Thereafter, Ngatia Mugoya, a student of Psychology at USIU took the platform on behalf of his movement, Millenial Speak. He told the audience about how he paid no mind to politics until he traveled to Harvard University (USA) where thousands of different students from different parts of the world gathered to discuss global issues. This is when he began to see his role as young person in discussing matters affecting the society and the world at large.

Next, Manu Chandaria, Chancellor of USIU took to the stage to give his speech which was decorated with humor. In his introduction he mentioned how before he held his position as Chancellor, the stand was about 6 inches above his height, causing the audience to burst in to laughter.

Manu Chandaria addressing the students

In his speech, Mr. Chandaria pressed on the influence of academia on the country and how in previous years Kenyan scholars would participate in state affair via public lectures which were often given by prominent people in the government, corporate society and academic field. He stated the importance of creating an avenue for serious discussions between the media, private sector, government and citizens on key issues affecting the country

“Get engaged. When we are all engaged and play a part, then the world can be a better place.”

He concluded his speech by saying that change does not announce itself then went on to welcome to the stage Bob Collymore, the Keynote speaker of the day, who he referred to as his long time friend.


Bob Collymore used the Big Bang and the evolution of the use of fire to illustrate disruption. He stated that fire came as a technology which changed and affected our lives and culture as human beings forever. He went on to give examples of companies that reacted differently to disruptions. The creators of Blockbusters failed to predict and adapt to the rise of Netflix and this failure to adapt to the digital change cost them as they were overtaken.

He also said that Uberization is already falling behind due to the creation of self driven vehicles. Who is equipping Uber drivers to adapt to this rising change? Who is equipping teachers? People in the health sector? Because soon machines are going to be able to diagnose disease. Mr. Collymore said that it is key to be flexible and not to ignore disruption. “How would you compete in a world with robots while they are learning how to do your jobs?” He asked.

“Read the science, as disruption will just swoop in and take over, quietly and abruptly,” urged Bob Collymore, “Embrace technology to use it to improve operational effectiveness”.

Paula Kigen from the school of Science and Technology came to the stage after Bob Collymore finished his speech to conduct the Question and Answer session where Mr. Collymore responded to various questions related to music, education and digital disruptions. He said having a flexible approach to the whole issue of disruption is the solution at large.

In this session it came out clearly that even universities are bound to close up if they do not research on digital disruptions with e-learning and online certification. The question of the role that fiction or literature in recognizing digital disruptions and its changes was brought up by a lecturer who said that in 1983, he read a book called “1984” and the things which he read about like cameras on the streets and police reading criminals’ minds is what is happening currently. He then wondered whether fiction and literature can be used as predictors. Bob Collymore responded to him saying that predicting or trying to guess what changes will occur is hard but we can look at human trends to derive predictions.

Following a question on cyber attacks, Bob Collymore also said that cyber security in this country is quite serious as Safaricom has had 8.8 million hacking attempts this year alone.

After the Q&A was over, a cake was cut in honour of Bob Collymore then Manu Chandaria gave the closing remarks.

Watch Bob’s speech below.