The Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Sector has been a remarkable success story in Kenya both socially and economically. The growth spurt in internet penetration today is at 86%, which is higher than any other country in Africa. The unprecedented success of mobile money and its proven role in uplifting thousands of Kenyans out of poverty and directly contributing to economic growth has led to a general analytical focus of the of ICT Sector on mobile technology. Despite this, the economy of ICT across the world and in Kenya is much more diverse and intricate.
Improved technologies have resulted in long term trends as well as emerging issues which present several opportunities for growth. Today one cannot mention ICT without thinking about Big Data and Block Chain technologies, Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Speaking during an event dubbed ‘Decoding the Silicon Savannah’, Dr. Monica Kerretts, Senior Faculty at Strathmore University Business School (SBS) emphasized on the importance of investing in the youth so as to equip them with adequate knowledge on how to operate within this sphere of developments and ensure that the youth are more idealistic and innovative as they think of tech entrepreneurship. She further noted the importance of ICT courses being multi-disciplinary in nature with the aim of grooming practitioners who are knowledgeable in the link between ICT and Business Value Chains.
Other panelists in the discussion (Dr. Bitange Ndemo- Chairman Block Chain & AI task Force, Juliana Rotich- County Cluster Head BASF East Africa, Marvin Tumbo of Socialight Media and Sahil Shah- Project Lead-Kenya Business Guide) delved into some of the factors hindering the commercialization of ICT. Firstly is the issue of capturing data for value addition, lack of standardization on the names and content of ICT courses and finally is the lack of practicality of our education (not multi-disciplinary).
New business opportunities in Kenya have been enabled by fibre- optic cabling throughout various regions of the country. This in turn has led to improved internet service provision, application development and content creation. Not only has this contributed to economic growth but it has also created employment for Kenyans.
From the discussions, it was clear that connecting more Kenyans to ICT infrastructure will allow more people to explore their creativity and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. “In big data there is life, big data is employment,” remarked Dr. Bitange Ndemo. In addition, embracing public private partnerships and acting as the regional leader in the development of strategies and policies will ensure that ICT plays a prominent role in Kenya’s future. The country should develop the capacity in data science and predictive data analytics, for the common citizen to understand the importance of data in informing their decisions.
The sector brief on Information and Communication Technology was organized in partnership with Kenya Business Guide.
About Kenya Business Guide: The Kenya Business Guide (KBG) is a think-tank that seeks to support the improvement and strengthening of the business environment in Kenya by providing access to information on key features of both the private and public sector prerequisites in the effective functioning of business. The KBG works in the intersection of the private and public sectors developing curated and value-added information to assist leaders in making more effective decisions.