Yesterday, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance unveiled the Kenyan 2015/16 budget. The budget announcements was coordinated with that of other EAC member states and these include Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.The CS announced among other things that the economy grew by 5.3 percent in 2014 and was expected to grow between 6.5 to 7 percent in 2015.
What were they key take home points for the growing ICT sector in Kenya?
Ministry of ICT Budgetary Allocation
The ICT ministry was allocated Kshs. 11 Billion (I still think the amount was significantly low) in the budget with recognition as one of the key sectors targeted to lead in achieving Vision 2030. The CS also allocated KSh 1.9 billion for the continued roll out of IFMIS, KSh 800 million for Konza Techno City, and KSh 250 million for the Presidential Digital Talent.
E-Government Continues To Thrive
The government launched the e-citizen portal in August 2014 eCitizen.go.ke. The portal allows one to access Ministry of Lands, Immigration to apply for passports, KRA, and other government departments including the NTSA to renew their driving licences. Payments for these services can be made through Safaricom’s Mobile Money service M-pesa. It was announced that over 400,000 Kenyans registered on the platform with 8,000 transactions performed. Revenue collections averaged Kshs. 10 Million daily.
To use the portal,one has to be registered which involves creation of an account. On submitting your ID number and first name, it fetches the details used to apply for the ID number. It then prompts to input your ID number, and on verification, prompts you to input your mobile phone number for which a code is sent to input and are done with the verification. The final stage involves adding a photo and you are set to go.
Governments Payments to go digital
The government is set to digitize 100 inbound payment service transactions by end of 2015. Key targets under this include; payments for business registration, land transaction services, motor vehicle and additional services under the registration of persons, including birth and death certificates.The move is meant to hasten service delivery, reduce transactions costs as well as safeguard revenue streams.
The government has already introduced 9 payment channels. The government has made tax payments fully digital with the itax system. Safaricom has also launched M-pesa Payment cards for settling government services and taxes. The M-Pesa debit cards and point of sale (POS) terminals enable customers to pay for government services.
The government has been implementing the Kenya National Electronic Single Window System called Kenya Tradenet System. The system us meant to facilitate international trade by reducing delays as well as transactions costs involved in the facilitation of imports and exports documentation. The government has put in place the declaration module and beginning the first of July 2015, all importers and exporters and other related stakeholders will process their transactions through the system. This will allow efficient revenue collection and accountability to thrive.
The government is set to launch the Treasury Mobile Direct Programme in July 2015. This will allow investors to invest in government securities through mobile devices. The government will subsequently launch the M-Akiba bond that will allow investors to purchase government securities for Kshs. 3,000 compared to the current Kshs. 50,000 threshold through their phones.
The government plans to fully deploy the eProcurement module complete with active price references to ensure the government does not pay for supplies above the market prices. The government is also set to publish ICT standards for all government ICT consumables as well as negotiate a framework with local dealers and assemblers on how to get the same at a discount.
One of the key promises of the Jubilee Government was the issuance of laptops to Standard One students in the country. The government is keen to see the project take off with an allocation of KSh 17.58 billion for deployment of ICT learning devices to schools, development of digital content, building the capacity of teachers and rolling out computer laboratory for class 4 to class 8 in all schools throughout the country.
The government has previously released over 1.2 Billion to facilitate the construction of ICT Hardware storage rooms, and allow 2,500 teachers have undergone ICT training. These actions were meant to provide a qualified workforce that guarantees the swift rollout of the Laptop Project.