The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy has completed one year of ambitious projects aimed at transforming Kenya’s digital landscape.
Presenting the scorecard on the performance of the ministry, as the first year of the Kenya Kwanza Government nearly comes to an end, Cabinet Secretary of ICT, Eliud Owalo noted, the report alias #MICDEProgressReport2023 in Twitter, “…is part of the Government’s plan centred on the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) anchored on upholding the constitution, institutionalizing politics and creating jobs, digital innovation, and e- commerce enablers.”
The CS added that, “One of the plan’s priorities is the Digital Superhighway and Creative Economy,aimed at equipping the youth with digital skills for digitally-enabled jobs and entrepreneurship,digitization of govt records and digitalization of govt services for data-driven public service delivery.”
These projects showcase significant achievements in infrastructure development, digital skills, government services, and e-commerce, among others. These include:
Laying National Optic Fiber Backbone Infrastructure: The Ministry says it successfully achieved its target of laying 5,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable, surpassing the goal by installing 5,280 kilometres.
“This milestone was made possible through a partnership with private sector players, such as Liquid Telcom, Wananchi Group, Safaricom, and Airtel, who installed 2,500 kilometres, while the government installed 2,780 kilometres.”
The collaboration with other government agencies, including KPLC, KETRACO, TELCOM, Kenya Railways, and KPC, ensured the mapping out of areas for the rollout of the 100,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable across the country.
Government Common Core Network – Upgrade: The Ministry addressed the issues of frequent internet outages in various MDAs caused by an ageing Government Common Core Network, undertaking an upgrade at both the passive and active component levels.
This included laying ducts in strategic areas like the Central Business District and Upper Hill (Nairobi), extending to Kenyatta National Hospital and Thika Road.
Installation & Operationalization of Public WiFi Hotspots: The Ministry noted it surpassed its target by establishing 421 free public Wi-Fi hotspots, outperforming the goal of two hotspots per county (94 hotspots).
The successful implementation was achieved through collaboration with County Governments, with 194 Wi-Fi hotspots established in partnership with them in markets and county headquarters.
Additionally, 172 Wi-Fi connections were set up as part of Community Innovation Hubs, and 55 hotspots were established directly by the ICTA. The Ministry identified 14,690 potential Wi-Fi hotspot sites across the country, based on high-impact areas.
Digital Hubs: To equip the youth with digital skills for digitally-enabled jobs and digital entrepreneurship, the Ministry aimed to establish 1,450 digital hubs in each ward over five years. So far, 174 hubs have been established and operationalized.
The Ministry noted it engaged with the National Assembly, Senate, and National Government CDF Committee of Parliament to secure funding for the necessary infrastructure, and discussions with the Council of Governors were held to establish hubs within village polytechnics, jointly funded with the respective County Governments and the Ministry.
“Each digital hub has the potential to train 300 youths and create a corresponding number of digital jobs, amounting to an average of 1,500 digital jobs per constituency.”
Digitalization of Government Services: The Ministry surpassed its target of digitalizing 5,000 services, with 5,084 services fully digitalized as of July 31st. The Ministry identified 9,362 government services, covering 179 MCDAs (Ministry, County, and Departments Agencies) for digitalization.
The priority sectors for digitalization included Health, Lands, Kenya Revenue Authority, Transport, Education, Border Control, Citizen Services, and Cabinet.
Digital Skills and Jobs: The Ministry’s AJIRA and JITUME programs played a significant role in equipping citizens with technical and vocational digital education and skills for digitally-enabled jobs and entrepreneurship.
The Ministry stated it collaborated with the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA) to equip TVETs with 23,000 digital devices.
The AJIRA Digital Programme linked 109,000 youth to digital jobs, with a total of 336,000 trained youth in digital jobs under the program.
Smart Mobile Devices: In support of digital entrepreneurship, the Ministry says it engaged mobile network operators to produce low-cost digital telephone gadgets and other devices.
The production and assembly of these devices are ongoing, with the first batch of affordable smart mobile phones expected to cost around $40 per unit.
E-Commerce: The Ministry states it raised awareness of digitally-enabled jobs and the digital economy among adults (53%) and youth (56%) through the AJIRA Digital Programme.
A survey by Mastercard showed a significant increase in Kenyans engaged in the gig economy, reaching 1.9 million in 2022.
The Ministry claims it incorporated digital marketing and e-commerce training modules into the AJIRA Digital Skills training program, preparing over 300,000 youth to seize opportunities in the e-commerce space. Enablers for e-commerce include public Wi-Fi hotspots, fibre installation, innovation hubs and Jitume centres.
Digital ID: In response to a directive from the President, the Ministry formed a multi-agency technical committee on digital identity to operationalize a Digital ID for Kenya by February 2024.
National Addressing System: The Ministry developed a draft policy and bill for the National Addressing System, engaging stakeholders and seeking Cabinet approval.
The system will deploy blocks identified from the completed Nairobi cadastral (mapping) to facilitate e-commerce.
These projects demonstrate the Ministry’s commitment to transforming Kenya’s digital landscape, enhancing connectivity, skills, and e-government services, and promoting digital entrepreneurship and economic growth.
The Ministry claims it aims to continue building on these achievements to further propel Kenya into a thriving digital economy.