Kenya celebrated its 59th Mashujaa Day yesterday. During the show, which was attended by President Ruto, among other high-ranking government officials, one key development was announced as far as Kenya’s stand in ICT matters is concerned: the Digital Superhighway. It was revealed by the President, but what does it involve and why should Kenyans be excited about it, should it be implemented in the long run?

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Digital Superhighway

Kenya, as said, is among the leading countries in the continent that have done a lot in terms of putting up ICT infrastructure for the benefit of its people and government functions. Its ICT policies and regulations have mostly been favourable to locals and multinational companies alike, which is why the country has been a host for some of the leading IT companies such as Google and Microsoft. The two, among others, have local offices and innovation hubs that have created thousands of jobs for Kenyans.

At the same time, Kenya has done substantial work in terms of digital connectivity. It is one of the most connected countries in the region and is being served by six submarine cables: TEAMS, EASSY, SEACOM, DARE, PEACE, and LION2.

We have the appropriate policy framework, and constitutionally protected freedoms of expression, media, information, and communication to dominate the creative arts and entertainment arena – President Ruto

The President cements his point by clarifying and amplifying the zeal of Kenya’s youth to create IT products and services on various platforms. This, according to Ruto, shows that Kenya has notable potential to become a global leader in ICT, and can in the long run play an essential role in employing hundreds of thousands of young people and generate immense wealth if we facilitate the young people to plug into the global digital economy.’

To this end, and to achieve these goals, the government plans to invest in the so-called ‘digital superhighway’ and the creative economy. Its purpose is to enable transformation, productivity, and overall competitiveness.

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Plans

In the next five years, the Ruto government will see that universal broadband is a reality. This will be done through the rollout of connectivity all over the country.

The next half a decade will ensure that this goal is met by laying out over 100K km of the national fibre optic network.

The government is planning to digitize at least 80 percent of its services.

The last decade has seen the government build more than 9K kilometres of terrestrial fibre that has reached all Kenya counties via the National Optic Fibre Backbone Infrastructure Project (NOFBI) (Phase 1 was implemented in 2008, Phase 2 in 2014, and 2E in 2017).

The last mile connectivity of the government has also developed 534km of infrastructure that has linked 1650 public institutions and offices in offering services such as the Government Common Core Network (GCCN).

A new report from the Fibre Broadband Association predicts that a four-person household will require 2,141 Mbps speeds in the next decade.

Government services shall be made available throughout the country at greater convenience to citizens through digitization and automation of all critical government processes – Says the President

There are plans to lower the cost of making calls and buying data bundles. This is a move that seeks to bring more young people online for business, learning, entertainment, and socialization.

This initiative converges with the efforts to boost the creative economy and scale up cultural production and the arts industry – Ruto

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Ruto adds that his government is committed to establishing more arts and culture infrastructure, including theatres, music auditoriums and art galleries, and extensive refurbishing of facilities to expand spaces for artistic and cultural expression and production.

Access to Credit

The Ruto Government has since mentioned the existence of the Hustler’s Fund which will set aside KES 50 billion that will be borrowed by people and businesses to boost their livelihoods. However, there was the issue of CRB listing, where millions of Kenyans have been recorded for having poor credit scores.

This, however, will be fixed because there are plans to de-list more than 4 million Kenyans from CRB in the coming days. Safaricom had reported these people following delays in paying their loans.

We have also secured an agreement with CRB that it will abandon the punitive penalty of blacklisting borrowers and move to a credit scoring system that makes borrowers eligible for credit even as they work to improve their creditworthiness – Ruto

Ruto says that no Kenyan will be excluded from the credit system, meaning they will be eligible to access credit as they work their way out in paying their loans.

Safaricom, NCBA, and KCB have since reduced the cost of furnishing its overdraft facility, Fuliza.

Hustler’s Fund

It will go live on December 1, 2022.

According to Ruto, credit products will be available to small businesses on digital platforms at affordable rates to individuals and through chamas, groups, SACCOs and cooperatives.

Lastly, borrowers on this platform will also participate in a short-term savings plan and long-term pensions program. Every saving made by borrowers on this platform will be merged by the government of Kenya on a 2:1 ratio to a level to be determined by the program.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]