ICT initiatives will help Kenya achieve Sustainable Development Goals – report

The ongoing national efforts to enhance the adoption of information communications and technology solutions have received global recognition in the just released Huawei Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Benchmark Report which found that countries that perform well on ICT also perform well on SDGs.

The Huawei report found a 90% correlation between ICT investment and progress in meeting six key SDGs including: Health and Well Being (SDG 3), Quality Education (SDG 4), Gender Equality (SDG 5), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9), Sustainable Cities (SDG 11), and Climate Change (SDG 13).  Countries that perform well in ICT also do well in progress on the SDGs, while countries that under perform on ICT also lag on SDG achievement.

The report released this week in Geneva, Switzerland, singled out Kenya as a global trailblazer in the ICT for development global scene alongside Germany, Thailand and Mexico.

The report notes that Kenya has experienced sustainable ICT growth fueled by widespread internet penetration, which has helped drive the countries sustainable development. With mobile penetration standing at 87%, which translates to close to 38 million Kenyans owning a phone, Kenya has been recognized as a leader in Africa for sustainable development applications in finance (M-Pesa), farming (iCow), health insurance (M-TIBA) and education (Eneza).

“Kenya has made significant advancements in ICTs. With our innovations in the financial sector, agriculture sector and education sector, we have managed to become pacesetters in the region. This report shows that these investments will pay off and help Kenya reach its sustainable development goals.” said Dean Yu, Huawei Kenya CEO.

The Government of Kenya has also been signaled out as a country where ICT-SDG connection is bearing fruit. Specifically, the report lauds Kenya’s Vision 2030 Master Plan for recognizing the role of ICT in realization of specific Sustainable Development Goals. Other government projects signaled out in the report include the Presidential Digital Talent Program to improve ICT skills, the Digital Learning Program to bring ICT to primary schools and the e-Citizen/Huduma centers, which makes government services available online and provides access points.

“Over the years, Huawei has partnered closely with our telecommunication customers and with the Government of Kenya because we believe that collaborations between the private sector and government bodies promotes economic growth. It is clear that if Kenya wants to achieve its Vision 2030 and the SDGs, further investment and progress in ICTs are necessary from all stakeholders.” said Dean.

Kevin Tao, Chairman, Huawei’s Corporate Sustainable Development Committee says in the report that for digital technologies to benefit everyone, everywhere, the digital divide needs to be closed, especially Internet access.

The results from the ICT Sustainable Development Goals Benchmark report indicates that Kenya should consider the following priorities:

SDG 3: Heath: Kenya has some of the highest maternal mortality rates among the research sample. Tailoring ICT solutions for home births or developing communication applications for expectant mothers or health facilities may help support this target.

SDG 9: Infrastructure: Kenya’s SDG 9 as a percentage of its SDG Sum score is the lowest in the research sample. This may be an area for attention, and also where relatively small ICT investments may result in significant results.

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities: Kenya has the lowest access to improved sanitation facilities in our sample. Improved management of water through ICT, such as through smart water grids, could result in significant improvements for this indicator and for quality of life for the Kenyan people.

Huawei focused on six SDG Goals in this study. Each was assigned four indicators aligned with the goal’s targets to assess progress. Data was collected on the indicators for 15 countries, representing a range of developed and developing economies at different stages of ICT development. For the ICT indicators, Huawei used the 11 ICT indicators from the ITU’s most recent ICT Development Index. ICT and SDG performance were reviewed separately to test correlation, and then the data was combined into a single benchmark to create the 2017 ICT Sustainable Development Goals Benchmark.