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Kenya Remains Untapped Technologically Despite Rising Number of Internet Users

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Kenya’s internet penetration has remained all-time high becoming an important sector for economic growth in both the e-commerce and start-up segments with Nairobi standing as East Africa’s most vibrant technology hub. Despite this growth, the country remains untapped technologically with minimal solutions coming from the sector. 

According to the Digital 2021: Kenya report from DataReportal, Kenya’s mobile penetration grew by 11 per cent between January 2020 and January 2021 closing 59.24 million mobile connections while the internet having a penetration rate of 40 per cent. This data is expected to go upwards in the coming years due to the rising accessibility of affordable devices and the internet. Regardless of this, Kenya has continued to experience challenges ranging from healthcare, unemployment, urbanization, and infrastructure just to mention a few. 

There is a rising need to come up with strategic measures to address these key challenges that Kenya has faced for the longest time as a country. 

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For instance, the country’s unemployment rate has stood at 7.2 per cent since the third quarter of 2020. When utilized well, technology can offer solutions by providing employment opportunities in the digital arena. Digital jobs are not only limited to work within the IT industry but also include work where ICTs enable workers to find paid work online, these areas might include data entry, online writing, virtual teaching, image categorization, graphic design, virtual office assistance as well as traditional jobs in the e-commerce platforms and on-demand services.

The median age in Kenya is 20.1 years, the government needs to invest in educating this younger generation that there is life beyond formal employment and traditional jobs, this in return will accelerate the realization of vision 2030. 

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This youthful population has been the highest consumers of technology while creating an abundant source of talent hungry for opportunities. To succeed as a nation Kenya needs to invest in this readily available talent cubbing challenges that come with unemployment such as crime and drug abuse among the youths.  

On the other hand, technology is not only limited to employment but it can also offer wide solutions even in traffic and urbanization that has been an unending puzzle mostly with the rapid urban population growth. According to Macrotrends, the current metro area population of Nairobi in 2021 is 4,922,000 which is a 3.95 per cent increase from 2020. This is also expected to grow in the coming years. 

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In return, this ever-increasing population has exerted enormous pressure on the transport system overwhelming the public transport sector. Technology, using Artificial Intelligence, that has minimal human intervention and little chances to cause errors can control traffic saving on time and frequent accidents. 

The AI, can pick up live feeds, use sensors and even Google maps to make predictive algorithms in return instruct automated traffic signals to direct drivers where there is no traffic. This technology has been used successfully in developed countries like China where the country, despite its huge population it can control the traffic in major towns.

The country has even gone ahead to use the technology to control crime in the cities by detecting any unusual words or behaviors related to a crime being sent over the internet or across the streets.

This is just part of the solutions technology can offer, its ability is unlimited, to improve the lives of its population, the government needs to tap into the sector to offer solutions to the problems. For a start, they can create a younger task force that is conversant with the technology and areas to implement it and draft a comprehensive proposal for implementation.

One of the biggest challenges that the country has faced over the years is having a generation that is not conversant with technology to guide the development of country, in the 21st Century technology is shaping the agenda and Kenya should not allow being left behind in this development opportunity. 

For years, the country has been recognized as a strategic place to do business in East and Africa at large, to stay ahead it will need to accelerate its direction and focus to blend in with the demand that has been created due to the high internet penetration in the country. 

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James Irungu
James Irungu
James Irungu is a Media and Communications professional who draws concrete experience from mainstream media and contemporary arts. He is a columnist covering business and technology.

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