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Kenyans encouraged to embrace new technological innovations

The government is working with innovation hubs to lower entry barriers for ICT entrepreneurs and help scale their business in the country and beyond.

ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said the delivery of digital transformation will involve all players in the ecosystem among them private sector actors.

Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Joe Mucheru (left) and Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa (center), during the Fintech Innovation Week held at Safaricom’s Michael Joseph Center, Nairobi on Tuesday, 15th March 2022. Photo by Widen Ratemo

He said the emergence of new technologies, cryptocurrencies and compatible virtual currency enabled apps and websites to offer a cheaper and more efficient transaction methods in Kenya and the entire Africa continent.

Mucheru mentioned that his ministry will hold discussions with relevant government ministries on how to implement technologies such as crypto currency and bitcon which are important to the nation.

“The potential benefit for Africa is witnessed through tech-entrepreneurs, e-commerce, as well as diaspora remittance senders and receivers,” said Mucheru and singled out financial technology as a major force of economic development that has the potential to shape the structure of the financial sector in Africa.

He also noted that the immutable systems built on the block-chain technology have the potential to seal corruption and revenue seepage loopholes, noting that the digitization of the land registry records will deter fraudulent acquisition and transfer of land across the country while the Huduma Namba, that will be used as the single source of identity to eliminate fraud.

“Most recently, we have witnessed how non-fungible tokens have taken the world by storm, with our very own Eliud Kipchoge’s videos highlighting his iconic marathon career moments being auctioned for Sh. 4 million.

The CS made the remarks during the official opening of the Inaugural Fintech Innovation Week, held at the Safaricom Michael Joseph Centre in Nairobi, which is part of the Safaricom Open Innovation Week.

He said over the years, the country has witnessed Safaricom’s transformation journey from a simple mobile technology communications service provider to the most valuable firm in East Africa, and one of the most valuable brands in the African Continent.

“Currently 95 per cent of Kenyans have access to financial services through mobile money services while Safaricom has recorded more than 30 million users on its platform through the many changes that have been made in the ICT sector,” said Mucheru.

He stated that Fintech has continued to evolve and added that through the said platform many companies both internally and globally have continued to grow and assured the company of the government’s continued support to ensure technology drives development in Kenya and the entire continent.

He said fintech has transformed into an integrated payment and banking ecosystem with robust credit and savings platforms such as M-Shwari, M- Pesa and Equitel whose growth is due to the unprecedented increase in connectivity and the proliferation in the use of smartphones driven by low-cost devices and low-cost data plans.

The CS at the same time observed that in 2020/21 Kenya witnessed a surge in mobile money transactions and subscribers, an achievement he attributed to the enabling regulations deployed by the government through the Central Bank of Kenya.

Mucheru said “We take pride in Safaricom’s entry into new markets such as Ethiopia, as this affirms the immense opportunities that can be harnessed within Africa and encouraged Kenyans and the African countries to monetize on iconic moments, art, wildlife, scenery and culture as they have immense opportunities.

He called upon African nations encourage innovation, provide the proper infrastructure such as connectivity, energy and devices and impart their citizens with the requisite digital skills for prosperity.

The Digital Economy Blueprint, which was developed in consultation with key stakeholders including Safaricom, provides Kenya and all Africa nations with a template for digital transformation.

He said the government will continue with the rapid digitization efforts aimed at enhancing public service delivery, noting that currently, over 200 services are being offered through the online self-service E-Citizen platform, while the 52 Huduma Centres spread across the country offer complementary support to those faced with technology challenges.

Mucheru said to take innovation to the next level and position Kenya as a technology hub for both local and multinational companies, the country is building the technological capabilities on several fronts.

“This is through Digital Literacy Programme, the Presidential Digital Talent Programme, the Ajira Digital Programme and the one year paid internship opportunities to ICT and engineering graduates” he added.

He urged Kenyans to harness the opportunities of the regional partnerships available under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) single digital market platform as it provides new markets, offers new avenues for tech start-ups and e-businesses and a combined population of about 1.4 billion and a Gross Domestic Product  of over $600 billion.

Speaking at the event, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Peter Ndegwa said that the Innovation Week is aimed at showcasing what Safaricom offer for the future generation.

“Fintech will transform the lives of all people through a combination of technology and innovation,” said Ndegwa.

He mentioned that the project is tasked to transform Safaricom to promote customer satisfaction, innovation and create collaborations between Kenya and the entire Africa continent since technology and investment are key factors that will empower the country.

By Manu Mumba and Bernadette Khaduli

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