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Kenya Should Invest in People and Harness Technology to Take on the Country’s big Challenges

Kenya is embracing technological disruption in a way that sets it apart from other countries, this has proved that the machinery has come to stay and we are open to embrace it and develop it to its full potential.

According to World Bank, Kenya has seen its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector grow an average of 10.8 per cent annually since 2016, becoming a significant source of economic development and job creation with spillover effects in almost every sector of the economy.

However, despite many techs and business start-ups giving themselves to the use of technology to better the lives of Kenyans, there is a need to come up with strategic measures to address key challenges that we have faced for the longest time as a country, this ranging from healthcare, unemployment, urbanization, and infrastructure.

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According to Jumia Mobile Report 2019, Kenya, having a population of about 51.58M, it has a young population with an average age of 18 years, with almost three-quarters of the population under the age of 30 compared with 46 or 47 years in Germany and Japan. This youthful population has been the highest consumers of technology while creating an abundant source of talent yet hungry for opportunities.

To succeed as a country, we need to look beyond the rough edges of the youths and really invest in that readily available talent, and that asset will reap significant rewards to our growth. This is the promise that technology holds. It is an opportunity for us to develop new business models and to adopt new practices—not necessarily best practices—because the conditions that exist in Kenya require unconventional approaches, and technology allows you to redesign and reimagine new ways of doing business that can drive down costs and keep quality high.

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This is a huge solution that technology offers, however, we cannot hide from the fact that we need a well-organized structure to harness it for when wrongly utilized this can be the cause of all evil in society. To keep pace with the growth, it will require stronger digital foundations, such as new regulations and policy guidelines designed to support the digital transformation.

Lack of guidance on technology implementation can lead to economic instability, and the effects of this are magnified by having a weak rule of law and high debt burdens. For instance, according to the World Bank Report, in Kenya, telecommunications regulation has struggled to keep pace with the evolving market dynamics and emerging technologies, and the digital entrepreneurship space faces limited growth-oriented financing and lacks a firm pipeline of digitally skilled talent. The report also highlights that Kenya faces a significant digital divide, with 44 per cent of the urban population having access to the internet compared to 17 per cent in rural areas. These are areas of improvement.

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Building a strong digital foundation will be critical to the country’s long-term success in harnessing the potential of the digital economy as a driver of its economic growth, job creation, and service delivery while ensuring that no one is left behind

It is a fact that technology is opening up opportunities to boost digital connectivity, revolutionize agriculture and improve public services. But the use of this technique is still limited. To realize the potential requires a better understanding of what is available and what it can do. 

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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