Connected Kenya is on, and this is the 5th one, happening today at Sarova Whitesands, Mombasa. This year’s theme is The County Citizen, Served. Current Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo went through with us the 5 policy goals for the 5 Connected Kenya sessions since it started 5 years ago, and here they are:
- Development of Infrastructure: Initially we barely had anything to speak of in the ICT sector in Kenya, and that’s when the ICT Board was formed to fast-track growth of ICT in Kenya. The first policy goal, Development of Infrastructure focused on fiber cable laying, Ndemo says that Kenya is currently covered by National Fiber backbone at 95%, which he terms as a success in any terms.
- Promote content: The second policy goal involved content promotion, Kenya needed a reason to go online, with all this increased internet capacity, and not just to consume content from outside the borders. This would involve policy makers in government to enable content production in Kenya, content promotion and even providing youth with opportunities to get government jobs and tenders.
- Development of Capacity: This one was focused on three things, Availing government data to boost innovation and this is where Open Data conversation was started. Then there was commitment to funding and investment to sustain innovation, both public and private sector, that was highlighted by the Vision 2030 ICT Innovation awards. Lastly there was growing trade and value in ICT economy that was geared towards getting access to funding for Kenyan innovators and growing the entrepreneurship culture.
- Fostering Partnerships: The fourth policy goal was getting public-private partnerships that resulted in roll-out of undersea cables where they partnered and shared revenues. Although this came with the promise of lowering costs for data access and increase of reach, little has been felt to the end-user who meets several outages that come about as a result of roads and other infrastructure maintenance processes. Stakeholders started by claiming that they needed to maintain the costs high to recoup costs of fiber implementation. All in all there were successes to count on.
- Create Employment and improve efficiency in Governance: This now is the policy goal for the fifth Connected Kenya Summit who’s theme is Connected counties -Shared services. Stakeholders here involve county government chiefs and committees, Cabinet Secretaries, Members of Parliament involved in the ICT and Energy committees who are currently discussing the dynamics of having counties implement resources that make the county resident access better services.