Kenya’s digital economy is on the horizon

As we reflect on the achievements of the first year of the Kenya Kwanzaa government, I would like to take account of the digital superhighway; Contributions to the socio-economic transformation of our country are well and truly under the leadership and tutelage of President William Ruto.

Kenya’s Digital Masterplan 2022-2032 recognizes infrastructure as the foundation upon which all information, communication, digital technologies and any developments from them are anchored.

It is for this reason that in the infrastructure pillar, we have started laying 100,000 km of fiber-optic cable across the country, including currently unserved and under-served areas, to provide access to 8.5 million homes and businesses in 1,450 wards. 400 police stations, 13,000 health facilities, 40,000 public schools, markets and other public institutions in the next five years.

Without digital infrastructure, Kenya will not be able to benefit from the fourth industrial revolution and disruptive technologies such as the Internet, robotics, virtual reality, fintech, e-commerce, 5G technologies and artificial intelligence and the new frontier for economic transformation globally. .

I am pleased to report that in the last twelve months, working with private sector stakeholders, MIC-DE has successfully built 8,419 km of fiber optic across the country.

Expanding our fiber optic cable across the country is a significant precursor to our digital transformation journey. Having recently successfully negotiated World Bank funding for the $570 million Kenya Digital Economy Acceleration Program and an additional $5 billion from the Universal Service Fund, another 10-15,000 km nationally will be rolled out in the next 1 year. Optic Fiber Network Backhaul Initiative.

To realize the full utility value of NOFBI, it should bring socioeconomic transformation to citizens by opening opportunities for job creation, supporting business and e-commerce, education, innovation, access to online and GoK e-services, e-health. E-agriculture, and the creative economy drive inclusive growth. This requires providing Internet connectivity to people through last mile connectivity, which connects the main backbone and users.

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As a result, the government, in partnership with private sector ISPs, installed 25,000 free public Wi-Fi hotspots in public places across the country, providing affordable internet connectivity to millions of Kenyans. So far, MIC-DE has installed 518 free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country.

It will expand exponentially as NOFBI expands across the country. The benefits derived from and subsequent to this ICT infrastructure and its inherent technologies are directly proportional to the ICT literacy of the users. Our Digital Masterplan emphasizes investing in digital capabilities to drive digital opportunities and socio-economic transformation.

As a result, in the last 12 months, MIC-DE has provided connectivity to 116 educational institutions, primarily TVETs, and equipped them with 11,400 internet access devices, training 390,968 persons through the Jidume and Ajira programmes. It has recorded a huge success rate, with 119,462 youth employed in digital and physical ICT-related jobs through this intervention.

We intend to create 1,450 digital innovation centers in every ward to further improve access, promote innovation, use emerging digital technologies and impart IT literacy.

To date, we have successfully implemented 247 centers with access to high-speed Internet and learning centers with capacity for 30-100 cohorts, workstations, innovation labs, Wi-Fi hotspots and co-working spaces.

These centers will train 300 youths and provide an average of 1,500 digital jobs per batch at least, with the number of digital jobs that can be created. MIC-TE is working with MPs to amend the NG-CDF Act to utilize CDF for OPEX sustenance of centres.

I am pleased to inform you that Parliament has already passed the amendment and is now awaiting approval. Thanks to improved connectivity and access, in the last 12 months, MIC-DE has fully digitized 13,482 government services. Kenyans can now access GoK services from their homes. The Presidency has also been at the forefront of adopting digital services and as of January 2023, all Cabinet meetings have gone digital.

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Government is adopting digital identity to facilitate virtual consumption of government services so that citizens can seamlessly and securely access GoK and other digital services in public and private sectors.

We have recently intervened in the market to facilitate inclusive connectivity and access by partnering with the private sector to facilitate local e-assembly and delivery of affordable smartphones to MSMEs and those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The manufacturing plant was inaugurated by the President on October 30 and is now operational, producing low-cost smartphones priced at around Sh7,500.

In the media sector, MIC-DE has already revitalized the Broadcasting Corporation of Kenya, modernized the TV Centre, increased FM radio coverage with 20 additional transmitters and procured new outdoor broadcast TV and radio vans.

Efforts are also ongoing to develop digital terrestrial broadcasting infrastructure through a partnership between the governments of Kenya and Spain.

In revitalizing the Postal Corporation of Kenya, the company is undergoing restructuring to ensure efficient and optimal operations. We are targeting e-commerce and financial services.

On the other hand, advanced marketing of Posta’s services is paying off. In the past year, PCK has generated more than Sh200 million in revenue from the distribution of passports across the country. It works with the Immigration Department to provide a one-stop service when one applies for a passport.

In the past year, PCK has generated Sh600 million for logistics services provided to the government, expanded its EMS (Expedited Mail Services) offering and increased new contracts, which is expected to increase from Sh600 million to Sh900 million in the 2022-23 financial year. 2023-24. It also supplies medical and related supplies to medical facilities in collaboration with Chemsa. The contract is valued at about Sh295 million.

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To ensure the successful implementation of its programmes, MIC-DE recognizes that it must operate within a favorable legal, policy and regulatory framework and has developed or advanced important legislation in this regard.

Some major achievements in this regard include the approval and gazette amendments to the National Communication Technology Policy Guidelines 2020 which removed the mandatory requirement for foreign companies investing in the ICT sector in Kenya to acquire 30 percent local equity and the National Address System Policy. and Bill, among others.

We have recently set up a Sectoral Task Force to review the sector-specific legal and policy frameworks and recommend wide-ranging changes and reforms at the earliest to further align the industry’s operations to its operating environment.

While much work remains to be done, progress so far is encouraging. According to the World Bank, growth in Kenya’s ICT sector has outpaced all other sectors, expanding by 23 percent annually over the past decade.

The industry is now six times larger than it was at the start of the decade. With your participation and support, we look forward to an empowered, digitized and globally competitive Kenyan society. Our digital and 24-hour economy is on the horizon.

The writer is ICT Cabinet Secretary

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