[AfrICANN-discuss] Kenya: Country in Drive to Claim Regional IT Hub Status

LO MAMADOU alfamamadou at hotmail.com
Thu Jul 1 16:28:10 SAST 2010

Kenya: Country in Drive to Claim Regional IT Hub Status
Harry Hare
1 July 2010

There seem to be a quiet but strong movement positioning Kenya as a regional IT powerhouse.

This is the message that I picked up from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) breakfast meeting with leaders of the Ministry of Information and Communication last week.

The meeting was organised by KEPSA to debrief the non-IT private sector players on the ministry's programmes and plans.

And listening to Bitange Ndemo, the permanent secretary in the ministry, one could not help but be pleased by the enthusiasm, commitment and focus that seems to be taking shape.

It all starts with Vision 2030, which identifies information technology as a strategic pillar together with agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and financial services.

Now, note the difference here, its no longer business process outsourcing as it was originally.

It's Information and Communication Technologies.

Now, according to Dr Ndemo, a lot of work has already gone in and the Ministry is on its way to achieving its Vision 2030 targets and in some cases already ahead of schedule.

I cannot confirm or deny this. What I know though, is that the ministry has steered quite a number of projects that could fall into the Vision 2030 scheme of things.

First, infrastructure. There has been tremendous improvement in the development of ICT infrastructure in the country and we are already seeing the difference.

Connectivity has ceased to be an issue, especially in urban centres.

Connectivity prices have gone down considerably, and these will continue to fall as more people start using the abundant bandwidth that ISPs are holding.

Mobile Internet has grown to some unbelievable levels in the past one year, exciting the mobile operators to invest heavily in their data products.

Dr Ndemo said his ministry has changed strategy on the digital villages project and has partnered with private sector entities including Safaricom and Cisco to roll these out.

Already more than 500 digital villages have been rolled out, according to the PS, and the target is to have a digital village in each village.

So, in terms of infrastructure and connectivity, we seem to be in a good place.

The only issue here is what feeds into that infrastructure.

And this seems to be the biggest headache that the ministry and its agencies seem to be grappling with.

But what wowed me was the declaration that the ministry was focused on making Kenya the regional ICT hub and reclaim the position from Rwanda.

With good infrastructure, an able workforce, good policies, I think this is chicken feed.

There is so much buzz in the air that all the ministry needs to do is flick a switch, and boom... digital Kenya, comes to light.

Hare is a director at African eDevelopment Resource Centre, a training and consulting firm based in Nairobi


Source : Business Daily
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