I chose David Kobia, co-founder of Ushahidi, http://ushahidi.com ,for my Thought Leader Profile because of his unique story and tremendous, ongoing contributions to the development world. Born and raised in Kenya, Kobia came to the United States to study computer science at the University of Alabama in 1988. After some time, however, Kobia dropped out to pursue a career in web developing. Soon enough, Kobia was employed by several top companies, including Reader’s Digest, Times, Inc. and Southern Progress as a web designer. Kobia always has been, and still is very involved online. He frequently tweets, @dkobia, and updates his blog, www.dkfactor.com, with useful information relating to development. It was this constant Internet activity, which lead to his involvement with Ushahidi.
After shutting down one of his online forums which had begun to take a radical, uncontrollable turn, enabling insensitive information and communication pertaining to violent events in his own homeland, Kobia was keen to make up for this mistake. It was at this time that Erik Hersman approached David about creating Ushahidi. Kobia immediately joined the team, and still holds an important position, as Director of Technology and Development. Kobia has created and owns several other online companies and resources (www.kobia.net), in addition to his ongoing work to improve Ushahidi.
David Kobia has received international accolades for his work with Ushahidi, including Humanitarian of the Year, and has been included on multiple prestigious lists highlighting accomplished innovators in the ICT4D field. What I find most remarkable about this admirable leader in development is his loyalty to Kenya, his first home, despite his decades spent in America. Kobia firmly believes in the ability of the African people, not the white Westerners, to achieve better levels of development. In support of this belief, Kobia has constructed a technology innovation center in his hometown of Nairobi to stimulate the development potential of the area. Kobia believes the African people will soon live up to their potential, confirming, “There’s a pool of mind-blowing talent just waiting to be tapped” (http://www.technologyreview.com/TR35/Profile.aspx?TRID=947).