Kenya is at the forefront of technological innovations in the region and is often referred to as Africa’s ‘Silicon Savannah’. The government has invested heavily in ICT, which is a key contributor to the country’s GDP.
The ICT sector remained resilient through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it easily demonstrated its importance as a key enabler of business continuity.
The disruption and challenges caused by the pandemic prompted an increase in the uptake of digital tools and services as more Kenyans adopted mobile and Internet services.
Plans to manufacture phones and other electronic gadgets locally began in 2013. However, it was not until 2015 that the Government conceived the Digital Literacy Programme (DLP). Kenya’s decision was pragmatic, given the increasing uptake of mobile phones.
In many ways, Kenya’s economy is “mobile ﬁrst”, with almost 98 percent of the population having access to a mobile phone, according to the Communications Authority. To guide the assembling and use of phones, the ICT ministry launched the National Broadband Strategy (NBS), aimed at transforming Kenya into a knowledge-based economy, through the pro- vision of quality broadband services to all citizens.
However, it is the availability of the internet that has driven the uptake of digital services. There are currently four undersea ﬁbre optic cables that land oﬀ the coast of Kenya: SEACOM, TEAMS, EASSY, and LION2, which are the core drivers of ﬁxed Internet penetration in the country, making it one of the highest, fastest and most reliable in the region.
DLP seeks to integrate the digital technologies in learning in public primary schools.
As part of this initiative, Moi University, entered into a partnership with JP.IK of Portugal to assemble digital devices and other ICT innovations for over 15,000 public primary schools in 26 counties.
The university set up MU Technologies with its assembly at Rivatex, with the capacity to produce laptops, tablets, desktops, mobile phones, servers and digital metres televisions and other related components.
The first Kenyan laptops were produced by JKUAT in 2015 and were conceived and designed under the TAIFA brand by the Nairobi Industrial and Technology Park (NITP), a subsidiary of the university.
It was assembled from both custom and general parts. NITP is a Kenya Vision 2030 flagship project between JKUAT and the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development.
Among the challenges faced by the government in its implementation of the BPO programmes are:
- Inadequate budgetary allocations, delayed disbursement and budget cuts.
- Cyber-crime and social media abuse
- Vandalism of ICT infrastructure
- Unstable global macroeconomic environment, which was occasioned by pandemics and other global economic uncertainties.