Business Process Outsourcing, also known as Information Technology Enabled Services (BPO/ ITES), involves the transfer of value contributing activities to another ﬁrm to reduce the operating costs, for better quality and to focus on core competence.
It is simply the movement of business processes from inside the organisation to an external service provider. The term encompasses activities that include customer service work, data entry, transcription, digitisation, financial accounting, auditing and other higher value-knowledge processing such as content development, animation, legal services, engineering design and data analytics.
With the global telecommunications infrastructure now well established and consistently reliable, the BPO industry is expected to help Kenya realise its development goals. The Kenya Vision 2030 blueprint identiﬁes BPO as a key sector and has played a big role in the growth and development of a knowledge-based economy and created jobs for the youth.
Further, BPO has continued to provide services via the internet to organisations in developed countries. Kenya’s Third Medium Term Plan (MTP III) 2018-2022 had envisaged attracting top international IT suppliers and foreign companies with top BPO brands.
The Kenya Vision 2030 blueprint identiﬁes BPO as a key sector and has played a big role in the growth and development of a knowledge-based economy and created jobs for the youth
The sector is expected to create over 200,000 direct jobs, and contribute towards the achievement of ICT sector target of 10% of the GDP. In order to bridge the digital divide and promote innovation, the Plan had focused on the promotion of Kenya as a BPO destination, as well as enhancing development capacities for science, technology and innovation.
Programmes and projects in the BPO/ ITES are ongoing and include the establishment of a Smart City (Konza Technopolis), Digital Literacy Programme, provision of mentorship to youth on online digital work, exploiting digitally-enabled job opportunities, equipping youth with skills and access to information.
There is also a focus on identifying opportunities in the investment, trade and manufacturing sectors, making Kenya a hub of BPO/ITES and e-commerce. The sector will continue to im- prove public information management and awareness creation on BPO/ITES, through gathering, packaging, and dissemination of information on the development, implementation, and re- view of related policies, projects and programmes.
BPO is an integral part of the day- to-day business activities, including healthcare, retail and e-commerce, banking, asset management and supply chain management. The government and other stakeholders have implemented various initiatives in MTPIII. This has enabled the BPO/ITES to contribute signiﬁcantly to GDP from 1.4 percent in 2017, to 2.5 percent in 2020.
The sector implemented key programmes and projects are:
- Konza Technopolis Infrastructure
- Digital Literacy
- Presidential Digital Talent
- Studio Mashinani
- Support for BPO/ITES Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
- Ajira Digital
- Public information Management,
- Local Digital Content Development
- ICT and Mass Media Skills Development
- E-Commerce Hub
- Regional ICT Ecosystem
- Digital Government Transformation
- Government Call Centre
- Media City
- Digital Villages
- Policy, legal and institutional Frame- works.
Status of Projects: During the review period (2018-2022), the following achievements were made:
Establishment of Konza Technopolis: The objective of this was to establish the infrastructure in Konza to attract BPO/ITES investments. Construction of the Konza Complex Building Phase IA was completed and occupied.
The Konza Horizontal Infrastructure (roads, parks, public facilities and street scape) has been developed up to 70 percent Waste Reclamation Facility is 50 percent complete; Konza Primary Data Centre completed and operational, while Secondary Data Centre Civil Works for the Building, has been completed and equipped up to 70 percent; and Data Centre broadband connectivity is 100 per- cent complete.
The Konza Technopolis was ranked third in the 2021 International Association of Science Parks (IASP) Inspiring Solutions Programme that recognises excellence within science parks and areas of innovation management, and gives visibility to the best projects and initiatives. IASP, which boasts of 350 members and 115,000 companies in 78 countries, selects the best top 10 solutions deployed by its members annually. The 10 ﬁnalists are selected by an expert panel, before IASP members vote for the three winners, who are announced live, at the IASP World Conference.
The Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) was recognised for establishing the Konza Innovation Ecosystem Initiative (KIEI), which brings together the Government, the academia, the private sector, and other non-state actors to champion the innovation agenda, resulting in the creation of new enterprises.
A total of 20 new companies, owned by the youth, have been created and are now commercialising because of the KIEI approach. Further, 200 children, between the age of 9 and 15, have been trained on innovation, while over 1,000 youth have been supported to develop new ventures. The Award was a recognition of KIEI’s role in nurturing an innovation culture. The initiative has addressed the gaps in the innovation ecosystem through better coordination and giving innovators the means to develop their ideas and solutions. Through the programme, Ken- ya has seen impressive innovations in healthcare, logistics and quality work, creating models that can be replicated across Africa.
Since the discovery, Kenya has embarked on several projects aimed at overseeing sustain- able, efﬁcient and reliable production and distribution of oil in the region
The Korea Trade-Investment and Pro- motion Agency (KOTRA) also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Economic Innovation Partner- ship Programme (EIPP) with KoTDA. The three-year partnership will facilitate the drawing up of a masterplan for the Konza Technopolis Smart City.
The EIPP will also guide the development of preliminary feasibility studies of major projects in Konza Technopolis, which include an Integrated Control Centre, Smart mobility and Energy.
The focus will be on security operations in the modern police command centre, in accordance with the Konza Technopolis’ Smart City Master Plan.
Other works will include the formation of a transportation network and plans for smart mobility, based on an Integrated Public Service Transaction Sys- tem, that meets urban functions and characteristics, Smart Parking, Digital signage and Electric Vehicle Service.
Other projects include the establishment of the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) at the Konza Technopolis, which is modelled after the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and is expected to be a graduate school, focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The institute will exemplify the Centre of Excellence in science and engineering, as envisioned in the second and third medium term plans of the Kenya Vision 2030.
115,000: Companies in 78 countries under the International Association of Science Parks (IASP), which selects the best top 10 solutions deployed by its members annually
Construction of the campus started in January 2022 and is set to be completed by June 2022. The ﬁrst batch of students is expected to be admitted in September this year.
It will have 10 research science labs, working with local and international researchers. KAIST will develop academic curricula for six initial departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, ICT Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Agricultural Biotechnology.
200: Children between the age of 9 and 15 who have been trained on innovation, while over 1,000 youth have been supported to develop new ventures
Digital literacy programme (DLP): The project aims to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in public primary schools. The sector has achieved the following:
- Installed a total of 21,638 public primary schools, out of the contracted 21,729 under DLP Phase I
- Installed a total of 1,169,000 digital devices for both regular and special needs education.
- Two local device assembly plants have been established at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and at Moi University. The production capacity for the Moi University plant is 1,200 LDDs per day, operating in two shifts of 8 hours each. JKUAT has two assembly lines with a daily production capacity of 600 LDDs each per shift.
- A total of 218,253 teachers were trained on the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) and 93,009 others were trained on ICT and device utilisation.
Presidential digital talent programme: The objective is to provide apprenticeships to ICT fresh university graduates in both private and public organisations. A total of 1,600 graduates have beneﬁtted from the programme in the last four years.
Establishment of studio mashinani: The objective of the project is to enhance youth talent through the establishment of studios to record their mu- sic and other content for commercial purposes locally. During the period, four (4) Studio Mashinani were established in Gatanga, Kitui, Eldoret and Kisii towns. A total of 145 productions have been made in the studios.
Promotion of film industry: The objective is to promote the development of high-quality, easily accessible, relevant local digital content, and to make Kenya the destination for African content. Two (2) Regional Film Incubation Centres were established in Migori and Bomet. Acquired and re- furbished Nairobi Cinema Theatre. The Kenya Film School was established at the Moi International Sports Centre.
Ajira digital programme: The aim is to empower and expose the youth to online jobs through training. The sector increased the trained youths under the Ajira Digital Programme from 21,105 in 2018, to 91,615 in 2021, and over 100 institutions have been enlisted. The number of youths working on digital and digitally-enabled jobs increased from 1,227,850 to 1,942,609. The sector engaged 878 youths, who worked on the Judiciary transcription jobs, scanning and data entry. The sector established and operationalised 339 and utilised Ajira Youth Empowerment Centres (AYEC) in 200 constituencies. The curriculum was reviewed and an Ajira Digital Trainer Manual was developed.
Public information management: The objective is to improve public information management. During the period, the licensed TV stations rose from 69 to 148, while the licensed radio stations rose from 169 to 186. The Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board (KYEB) published four editions of the Kenya Yearbook and four sector-based mini-yearbooks, linked to the four main pillars of the Big 4 Agenda; and the Government Advertising Agency (GAA) produced the weekly MyGov Magazine.
Other publications in the sector included monthly editions of the Mawasiliano Bulletin, and regional publications covering government policies, programmes and socio-economic and environmental issues.
Further, the sector gathered, pack- aged and disseminated daily news and information to media stations and online platforms, and also held bi-weekly press brieﬁngs on Government initiatives.
On media regulation, the sector resolved 65 percent of all complaints reported, trained 5,530 practicing journalists on thematic areas, developed 20 media standards, and accredited 17,672 journalists during the period.
1,600: Total number of graduates who have benefitted from the Presidential Digital Talent Programme, whose objective is to provide apprenticeships to ICT fresh university graduates in both private and public organisations in the last four years
Local digital content development: The objective is to develop local digital content and provide storage through the construction of disaster data recovery centres. The government is implementing the Konza National Data Centre and Smart City Facilities to sup- port all ICT- dependent applications, processes and technologies. Phase 1 of the Data Centre was completed and operationalised.
ICT and mass media skills development at KIMC: The objective of this programme is to enhance ICT and mass media skills development. The sector established and equipped two modern studios, completed 2 hostels, tuition blocks, and a modern catering unit to support learning and hospitality services at the Kenya Insititute of Mass Communication (KIMC). Over 2,000 youth were trained and graduated from KIMC.
Establishment and rolling out of an e-commerce hub: The objective of this project is to improve the country’s trade positioning through the establishment of an e-commerce hub, under the Postal Corporation of Kenya (PCK). PCK installed the Global Monitoring System (GMS) to improve international mail delivery. Further, it developed a mobile application for the last-mile delivery of parcels. Partnership with online shops, such as Jumia. The development of an e- commerce policy is ongoing.
Regional integration of the BPO/ ITES ecosystem: The ongoing project aims to establish a single digital market for trade in East Africa. The sector connected all the EAC border points, developed a framework for interoperability ﬁnancial systems, and implemented One Network Area with Rwanda, Uganda and Southern Sudan, thus reducing the cost of roaming charges within the region.
Digital government transformation project: The project aims to promote ICT applications in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). During the MTP III period, the sector facilitated the development and installation of ICT applications in seventeen (17) MDAs to improve service delivery.
Government call centre: The objective is to enhance government communication services to the public. The establishment of the National Government Contact Centre (NGCC) is currently 80 percent complete, with the provision of oﬃce space, furniture and equipment.
Digital media city: The goal of the project is to position Kenya as a global ﬁlming and investment location in Africa. The speciﬁc objective is to create a new content-producing platform for entertainment, media and tourism; and to promote entertainment and media industry start-ups and youth training. The pre-feasibility study for the project located at Konza Technopolis was completed.
Digital villages: The project aimed to promote access to public information through the provision of digital satellite television. Eight hundred villages in all the 47 counties were identiﬁed and supported with 20 Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial (DVBT) set-top boxes each, and three public institutions supported with either a television or an LCD in each of the identiﬁed villages.
Policy, legal and institutional frameworks
The objective of this programme is to formulate, review and implement ICT policies, legal, and regulatory frameworks to improve the business environment and promote competitiveness. The following policies, legal and institutional frameworks, were developed.
National ICT Policy: The government developed and launched the national ICT policy 2019, which recognises the establishment of Konza Technology City to promote the growing global BPO/ITES sectors.
National spectrum policy: A draft National Spectrum Policy has been developed and is currently undergoing the approval. The policy aims at ensuring optimal spectrum utilisation for a maximum contribution to national development, socio-economic growth, employment, and public welfare. Key focus areas include the promotion of research and innovation, encouraging the deployment of services in the rural areas, the promotion of universal access to broadband services, fostering competition, growth and innovation, and the promotion of aﬀordability of services.
National film policy: The policy in- tends to promote the development of high-quality, easily accessible, local digital content and to make Kenya the destination for African content. The policy proposes the establishment of two bodies to govern and manage the ﬁlm sector, namely the Kenya Film Classification Board, and the Kenya Film Commission, creation of a film fund, establishment of the Kenya Film School, promotion of co-production agreements between Kenya and other countries, and the establishment of the Film Federation of Kenya. The policy and the bill are undergoing approval.
National addressing system policy: A Draft National Addressing Systems (NAS) Policy has been developed and is currently undergoing approval. The objective is to establish standards for naming roadways, posting street signs and assigning numbers to all land parcels, dwellings, principal buildings, businesses and industries; develop digital maps and appropriate post-codes, provide structured information, clear and simple determination of an object; and identiﬁcations and location.
Public relations and communication management policy: The objective of the policy is to guide the development and management of Public Relations and Communication Management professionals (PRCM). The policy proposes the establishment of the Institute of Public Relations and Communication Management (IPRCM); establishment of the Public Relations and Communication Management Professionals Examinations Board; establishment of a Registration Committee to deal with applications for registration of Public Relations and Communication Management professionals and grant practising certiﬁcates under the Act; and establishment of a Disciplinary and Ethics Committee under the Act. The policy is currently undergoing approval.
The government approved and gazetted the National ICT Policy guidelines of 2020, ﬁnalised Cyber Security and Computer Misuse Act. Further, the sector has developed the National Film Policy Bill, the National Spectrum Bill, the Public Relations and Communication Management Bill and the National Addressing System Bill to legislate the above policies, which are currently at various levels of approval.
The sector developed transformation strategies to revitalise the operations of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and PCK, making them vibrant and viable institutions. The strategies are in the ﬁnal stage of approval.