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State to digitise all services to enhance service delivery

The Ministry of Information, Communications, and The Digital Economy is making major strides to ensure that Kenya continues to harness the potential of technology for better livelihoods and standards of living.

Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and the Digital Economy Eliud Owalo (Center seated) poses for a group photo with a section of delegates during the opening ceremony of the 14th Annual ICT Management and Leadership Conference of the Computer Society of Kenya, Mombasa. Photo by Andrew Hinga

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 14th Annual ICT Management and Leadership Conference of the Computer Society of Kenya, Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo said that the government has started to provide physical technological infrastructure and meaningful inclusive connectivity.

Owalo said the government has also come up with feasible and sustainable interventions in the market to ensure that Kenya becomes a perpetual net consumer of ICT equipment and software.

He said the ministry has partnered with technological companies and the private sector to embark on local smart-enabled telephones, which, based on feasibility studies that the ministry undertook, show that the phones will hit the market at a unit cost of about Sh6,000.

“We are rolling out cheap smart-enabled smartphones, and we believe that within our Konza Techno policy, in partnership with the private sector, we should be able to embark on the local manufacture of ICT equipment for a beginning, and eventually we should be able to go the full way in manufacturing ICT infrastructure,” he said.

Owalo added that the ministry is currently rolling out 100,000 kilometres of fibre-optic backbone infrastructure that is targeting health facilities, schools, and the judiciary, among other public institutions.

He disclosed that alongside this is the ongoing rolling out of 25,000 public WiFi hotspots that are targeting markets, bus parks, and other public spaces.

“Focus is also on providing 1450 village digital hubs geared towards spurring e-commerce, creativity, and the digital economy. We are also training youth in digital technology and finding them well-paying digitally enabled jobs from around the world,” he said.

The CS said the effort is embedded in the objective of making the government of Kenya paperless, climate-friendly, and saving people time and money in search of government services.

He said people should be able to get as many of the services as they desire, particularly from the government, from the comforts of their homes or places of work.

He added that other emerging developments in digital technology include such innovations as big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and block chain, among others.

He said the emergence of these technologies are making it easy for quick and efficient decision-making, providing opportunities for real-time situations and process monitoring and analyses that optimise resource use, enhance disaster preparedness, and track progress towards advancing in pursuit of the UN’s global Sustainable Development Goals.

“As a government, we are focused on making the gains from these technologies part of our day-to-day benefits,” he added.

The CS noted that the ICT landscape in Kenya is evolving apace, adding that technology now promises to play an indispensable role in the progress of the country.

“We are witnessing tremendous growth and impact in internet penetration into society, digital literacy, and adoption of new technologies in various sectors—from banking to education and healthcare, and on to agriculture and governance, among other spheres,” he said.

He said that as the digital landscape continues to expand, Kenya must remain at the forefront of innovation because technology is permeating all aspects of life, work, and even play.

He added that the country’s promising internet-driven ecosystem is a testament to the innovative spirit of Kenyan entrepreneurs, while established tech companies continue to make their mark on the global stage.

He said there will be no longer a need to have manual processors in the country since, by the end of the year, all government services will have been boarded on the e-citizen platform.

He said there should be a mechanism for authenticating people’s identities for ease of accessing government services from the comfort of their homes.

By Chari Suche

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